Like any large, medium, or small, and residential, commercial or industrial area in this country, we have a McDonald’s near our house. I won’t say we go often, but every once in a while we pick something up from the golden arches. (self-confession: I’m addicted to Sausage McGriddles, but I haven’t fallen off the wagon in over a year!) As they continue to offer more and more healthy options, including things like yogurts, oatmeal, and apple slices in the Happy Meals, they move a little higher up on the frequency list. Plus our dogs usually request a cheeseburger or two.
My daughter is getting to the age where she appreciates the toys she gets from Happy Meals, and will tell you if she likes them or not. The past two times we have gone through the drive through and gotten her one, we got a toy that wasn’t advertised, and seemed like it was from a previous promotional toy run from months ago. Our initial guess was that they had a lot of inventory of the older toys and wanted to get through them before handing out the new toys. Although far from the most frustrating thing we’ve ever experienced in our lives, two times in a row made us want to let McDonald’s know how we felt about our experience.
We found their comment system online and emailed them, a very nice note letting them know of what happened, and that we also liked the new Fish McBites and were happy they were trying new menu items. The very next morning, my wife got a call from the regional manager in charge of all the stores for our area. He said he understood where we were coming from because he had a young child himself, apologized, and then said he wanted to drop by our house that morning to bring a toy to make up for it.
And so he did. He brought the entire display board for the latest promotion, including all the ballerinas and all the hex bugs. A completely unnecessary gesture, but we were very impressed with that level of response. In addition, he chatted with my wife and said that the location in question was actually one of their better performing restaurants, and they typically ran through the latest promotional toys quickly, so they sometimes have to supply them with whatever inventory they could find so they have something to give out!
My first response was, wow, what an impressive focus on your customers! There was no discussion of, well, what would you like in compensation, no $1 coupon coming in the mail, no free happy meal. There was simply a quick effort to make a positive impression on one of your billions of customers.
I think a key learning is how important a quick feedback loop on a comment system or a kaizen card system can be in the eyes of those giving the input. I suppose we expected our comments to go into a database, perhaps be looked at, maybe categorized and if it was one of the highest frequency items, maybe they would look into it someday, but we probably wouldn’t hear back from them. Our comments would essentially be heading into a black hole as far as we were concerned.
Instead we got response, correction beyond our expectations, and additional information about the situation within 24 hours. Because of this, we’ll be more likely to use their comment system again. Not because we expect a rack of toys every time we send an email, but because we now know our customer input is reviewed and valued. In fact, if you removed the toys and personal touch from the equation, I think we would have been happy even with an explanation of the toy supply chain situation at that location. We also recognized that we are much more likely to get a response if we include details of the situation, our opinions, and a conversational tone rather than the “you guys stink!” mentality.
Because of this we will now have a very positive experience to share with our friends and family vs. a negative one, something that will stick in our minds for years to come. How many of your comment, kaizen, or complaint systems are set up with a primary goal of delivering positive experiences to your customers or the submitters to the system – whether internal or external?