How I Reshaped Customer Experience at McDonald’s

Alex KaarFeatured How I Reshaped Customer Experience at McDonald’s

How I Reshaped Customer Experience at McDonald’s

McDonald’s proudly delivers one of the best restaurant service system platforms in the world. Globally aligned technology, advanced systems and refined processes ensure a consistent customer experience.  McDonalds doesn’t compromise on brand standards or product quality and are committed to continuous innovation, ensuring they maintain their position as the market leader in its category.


As a licensee of a McDonald’s store, prior to my career in executive search, I gained a unique perspective on how to create small points of difference that would deliver a huge customer impact. While most people assume that all innovation comes from head office, the truth is that McDonald’s encourages innovation and service development at a store level.  They call this “human innovation” and I took that opportunity to introduce several ideas that were geared towards surprising and delighting my customers.


Let me take it to your table, madam. 


Picture this scenario:


A single mother with four children finishes work on Friday afternoon. She had promised the kids earlier in the week that she would treat them to a meal at the local family bistro as a reward, so when Friday rolled around and she was exhausted, a pub/bistro meal with a playground was a quick and easy way to please everyone.


She lined up and placed a huge order and waited patiently. The service model at this bistro was pick up at the counter only.


The four meals, desserts, drinks and her coffee were placed at the pick-up area ready for collection. She couldn’t leave the children on their own in the playground so she attempted to carry the meals, push the pram and open the door at the same time. Her coffee spilt, staining her white shirt golden brown.


The shock of the burn catapulted the tray and the meals fell to the floor.  Simultaneously, one of her twins had leaked terribly through the nappy which required urgent attention.


Witnessing this experience was the revelation that inspired me to act.


As a restaurant owner who also operated a ‘pick up at the counter model’, I was proud of the fact that my staff would regularly assist customers to their table. This was not a prerequisite at McDonald’s, but it was something many stores did as a courtesy.


After witnessing that incident, I proclaimed that – ‘NO DINE-IN CUSTOMER WAS TO EVER CARRY THEIR OWN TRAY TO THEIR TABLE ‘.


Henceforth – The birth of formalised table service in a McDonald’s restaurant.


We make birthdays better through song! 


A mother was dining with her young children in our Hastings restaurant the following Saturday afternoon.  I was in the restaurant at that time and was informed that she had brought her son’s birthday cake into the restaurant and had asked if it would be okay for her to serve it.


Cakes weren’t supplied by McDonald’s, as we didn’t do birthday parties in that restaurant.  We didn’t have a party room and available infrastructure either.


On that afternoon, based on a ‘customer service point of difference’, I created the Macca’s choir.


If a child visited a restaurant on their birthday, all operations would cease for 30 seconds, the entire service crew would move collectively to the dining area and sing a joyful rendition of happy birthday. We’d then allow the child to make their own ice cream behind the counter.


The team often sang ‘happy birthday’ four times a day, as it became local legend at our Hastings site.  Each performance was as energetic as the first and every child was made to feel special, so much so that they would talk about it for weeks.


This became our ‘POINT OF DIFFERENCE’.


The “YES” rule.  


I hate hearing I “can’t” do something, particularly when the thing stopping me from getting the outcome I want is a matter of process or “company policy”.  So I created the company motto “WE SAY YES”.

Here’s how saying “Yes” played out…


A customer ordered a gourmet burger from the reinvented menu and requested extra onion and pickles to augment the flavor.  However, she requested the regular menu pickles and onion which didn’t make up part of the standard premium burger build. My employee politely declined the customer’s request and strategically offered additional pickles and onions from the premium range at an ‘additional’ cost.


Seeing the disappointment on the customer’s face sparked me to action. ‘We serve others’!


From now on simply, “Give them the pickle”! at no extra cost.


The marginal increase in food cost was offset exponentially by the top line growth. If a customer asks, and we have the capability, in line with food safety and brand, “WE SAY YES”


A point of difference in a small patch of restaurants within a network that now boasts 1,000 restaurants nationally, resulted in record sales four years running.


In all industries, “We serve others”. To be commercially successful, MAKE OTHERS HAPPY!


Final Thoughts 


At Alex Kaar, we are currently undertaking our own process of “surprise and delight” and will be rolling this out over the coming months.


What are the small “surprise and delight” moments you can take advantage of?


A) Are you offering? – What do you already do well in this space?
B) What can you offer? – What are the little moments that you can make better for your customers?
C) What aren’t you offering? – What’s holding you back from doing this, or at least trialling it?

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Steve Kitto

Steve Kitto manages a portfolio of clients across the Retail, Logistics, Supply Chain, Procurement and Property sectors.

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