Last week Dad and I visited McDonald’s Noarlunga. Previously, I had seen these new machines in there where you could order your food, but I had not yet tried them out. Dad was like, “can’t we go to Hungry Jack’s?” And I was like, “noooo! Let’s go to McDonald’s.” I told Dad about the new machines, and with a little chuckle he said that actually really interested him, so off we went. As far as I knew, it was just a new way to order anything you wanted from the menu and allowed you to customise your order to some degree. Once I got in there I walked over to the machines and went to order a McFeast, with Dad watching eagerly by my side. Not too long into the process, I was approached by a McDonald’s manager named Saxon. He was a very good-looking guy with a lot of charisma and charm and I liked him straight away.
He said something like “I couldn’t help but notice the excited look on your faces, is this your first time using these machines?” “Yes”, I replied. He asked if we needed any help, I said, “I think I’ve got it, I’m used to using an iPhone and iPad with touchscreens so it feels familiar”. He was like, “it’s a bit like a giant iPad, isn’t it?” Haha, it was indeed! He went on, “but did you know you can create your own custom burger now?” I was like, “no, that sounds cool” He’s like, “well it’s not too late to cancel your current order and start again. Would you like me to walk you through it?” I said, “sure”. He helped me go through the whole process of ordering my own custom burger, it was actually quite exciting! Even Dad was excited next to me.
I couldn’t believe all the choices. First of all the bread – a toasted brioche style bun or a baker’s bun. I chose the former, it looked so golden and yummy. Followed by that was my choice of cheese. Saxon, like a fine culinary chef, recommended to me: Colby Jack. But I took Swiss. After that, it was turning up the flavour with some cool customisations. I chose to add egg, an Angus beef patty, guacamole (I love avocado), grilled mushroom, whole leaf lettuce, tomato, caramelised grilled onion, long-sliced pickles and aioli sauce. I was kinda interested in the dijonnaise sauce, although Saxon asked, “do you think that will go with the flavour?” “Hmm, I don’t know,” I said. So I decided to go with his suggestion of aioli, a garlic and mayonnaise combo. I also got it with a large fries and Coke.
Next Saxon helped my dad to order. Dad chose the same bread and cheese as me. Dad added bacon, egg, pineapple, lettuce and tomato for his. Dad is not a mayo man, he’s more of a tomato sauce man, so I suggested he get the ketchup. As Dad and I sat down to wait for our orders, we were just so excited! We couldn’t wait for our food to come! Saxon informed us that we were going to love it when we saw it, and that he would bring it out to us. Haha! What service! It was not too long before the food arrived. Of course – being an avid Instagrammer – I had to get a photo.
Saxon spotted me with my phone out and asked if I would like a photo of him. He was too adorable! Of course I said yes! He also said the coaster my drink arrived on doubled as a little chef hat which you could take a photo of yourself with your creation and hashtag #CreateYourTaste. I wasn’t feeling very photogenic so I was happy just to get a photo of my helper. I got some amazing food pictures though. It was served on a wooden board and the chips were in a little metal holder. I also noticed the staff in the kitchen had on new uniforms with aprons that looked super professional.
I enjoyed the food so much, and Dad felt the same. Saxon came and took away Dad’s wooden board when he was finished and asked us what the verdict was. We loved it. Dad did lightheartedly mention that his burger was swimming a bit in all the juices, and Saxon said he’d give the feedback to the kitchen. Another staff came and got my board when I was finished and asked if I enjoyed it too – YASSSS. It was just so delicious! One thing I couldn’t get over was my EXCITEMENT. Dad felt it too. When we left the store I even waved goodbye to Saxon. I’ve since discovered he was visiting from another state to help set up Create Your Taste (CYT) in my local store.
When I got home I told my brother all about it, I tweeted about it, I texted my friend Ish in the States and I planned on sharing on Instagram as soon as I got the time (it takes me a while to edit them and write the caption). I also really wanted to write this blog on it, because my experience was just so exciting. My friend’s remarks from the US, was, “That’s what McDonald’s is like there?” And “Doesn’t feel like McDonald’s at all”. I explained it was a new thing McDonald’s was doing here, and I have to say it was working! Another American friend on Facebook remarked, “This is really McDonald’s?” I also got some bewilderment on Twitter. Furthermore, I told a lot more friends and family about it during the week because I was so excited about the experience.
@heidi_helen really as in the Golden Arches?
— Paul Ledger (@Flexicoder) June 17, 2015
There’s some really important insights I gained from this whole experience. These things I observed can be applied to a business, a product or even your own personal branding when marketing yourself.
1. Recreate yourself
To appeal to new customers or win back customers who have lost a bit of interest, recreate yourself every now and then. Find out what it would take to get people’s interest. McDonald’s has introduced new custom burgers with new ingredients not usually on their menu and presented that in an attractive way to their customers.
2. Build excitement
There is nothing more contagious than excitement! If you manage to excite the customer, just like McDonald’s excited me, that excitement will spread via word-of-mouth. It will also make the customer want to come back. You don’t need to beg your customers to speak about you; if they are excited – they’ll spread the word. Aim to delight and create a sense of awe. I saw on social media that McDonald’s is actually aiming for “a smile at every seat”. Don’t underestimate the power of a smile – both for now and later.
3. Use innovative technology
McDonald’s is using new technology to appeal to a new generation of customers. Most of us are familiar with touchscreens now so it feels like home and is not hard to adopt. How might you use innovative technology in what you do? What do your customers want? For example if you only accept payments in cash but your customers want to pay by card or an online payment service, you may be seriously limiting yourself.
4. Offer choices
Allowing a customer to have some choices creates an enjoyable experience and ownership over the product. It’s “my creation”. McDonald’s uses 5 screens on their ordering system so the user is not overwhelmed with the choices. The screens are divided into bread, cheeses, meats, salads and sauces. Even though there is quite a lot to choose from, there are still some limits – only 2 types of bread for instance – not 15. If there were too many choices a customer could become frustrated, but just the right amount feels good.
5. Utilise social media
McDonald’s were clever to create marketing material with their new service for your to add a hashtag and share on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook etc. People love sharing things on social media, and McDonald’s have encouraged it and made it easier for customers to do so. In my experience stores can tell people off for taking photos, but if you openly allow it, customers will feel better about sharing and it’s actually good for your business. Social media spreads the message even further. It helps to create accounts for all the popular social media services – because people like tagging the brand in their posts. McDonald’s Australia has accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They also further engage with their customers there so the relationship can continue outside of the physical store.
6. Offer personalised assistance
Having personalised assistance while I used the touchscreen ordering for the first time really made a big difference. Even if McDonald’s only offers this assistance for the first few months, it’s enough to get people used to it. Having someone talk me through the system and offer me suggestions took away the stress and confusion I could have felt at learning something new. It also sped up the process and made it more enjoyable. I felt valued. This is a good model to adopt when introducing something new to a customer. Having a person there to answer any questions immediately and to make recommendations really improves the experience. It lets the customer know they are not alone.
7. Bring character
Bring your character, who you are, to the table. I had a really funny, charming and friendly person help me as I ordered my food. I really enjoyed it. It made me laugh and feel happy. It was memorable. You can’t fake your character or encourage other people to do so, but you can empower people to be themselves and to bring their personality into the service. Not everyone is loud and funny. Not everyone is gentle and soft-spoken. However – who someone is – brings value and enjoyment to an experience. Don’t just train people to be robots or highly productive machines, encourage differences and individuality and some flair.
8. Focus on presentation
McDonald’s has really gone all out on presentation. They’ve thought about it at all angles. They have new staff uniforms, appealing-looking machines, well-designed marketing material and very attractively presented food. They brought the food out on a wooden board, had a metal fries holder, a skewer with a flag to hold the burger together, paper underneath the burger with a nice printed design, a coaster for your cup, and even newly-designed packaged hand sanitizer wipes. If you think about it, this is the kind of thing that customers want to photograph and share. They don’t want to photograph a sloppily put-together burger. Plus it just makes what you’re offering so much more enjoyable. People eat with their eyes first.
9. Use the right timing
I wasn’t harassed the moment I walked into McDonald’s, I was allowed to get settled first before I was approached. Appropriate timing is essential. You don’t want to approach customers too late when they’re about to give up in frustration, but you also don’t want to be right in their face the moment they come through the door.
10. Ask for feedback
Asking for feedback, helps both you and the customer. It allows you to know areas where you can improve, and it also allows the customer to feel listened to and valued. My dad was able to openly share his feedback because he was asked, and also because his experience had been quite pleasant so he felt free. There might be a lot your customers would like to share with you but they are too shy or don’t want to be negative (or feel judged for sharing). I’ve read that 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain and 91% will never return. A customer that is dissatisfied with their experience will also tell between 9 – 15 people. Take the bold step to ask a customer how their experience was and take what they say on board, without judgement. Be thankful and appreciative for feedback even if stings a little. The benefit of asking for feedback is that besides allowing people to share negative feedback with you, you will also receive back positive feedback about what you’re doing right which will encourage you and reinforce that you’re on the right track.
To read more about Create Your Taste (CYT) head to McDonald’s Australia’s website – here. “Introducing Create Your Taste. How very un McDonald’s”. Touchscreen ordering makes it easy to build your very own gourmet burger. Just follow 5 simple steps. 1) Choose your bun. 2) Make it cheesy. 3) Turn up the taste. 4) Fresh’n it up. 5) Get saucy.
I couldn’t believe it when I went to @mcdonaldsau yesterday and got this! I created my own burger on their new ordering system. I got a toasted brioche bun, Swiss cheese, egg, an Angus beef patty, guacamole, grilled mushroom, whole lettuce leaf, tomato, caramelised grilled onion, long-sliced pickle and aioli sauce! Check out the presentation! I’m actually going to blog about the experience! I was so excited about this, it was so cool and delicious! I was also treated like royalty when I received it. My order was brought out to me and I was asked if I enjoyed! First-class service! #CreateYourTaste #Maccas #McDonaldsNoarlunga #McDonaldsAu #McDonaldsAustralia #Fries #GourmetBurger #CaféStyle #ToastedBrioche #Brioche #BriocheBun #SwissCheese #Egg #AngusBeef #Guacamole #GrilledMushroom #Lettuce #WholeLettuceLeaf #Tomato #CaramelisedGrilledOnion #LongSlicedPickle #Aioli #AioliSauce #Gourmet #FoodPresentation #Latergram #???? #???? #????
Another shot of my burger from @mcdonaldsau Noarlunga! See previous post for details. #CreateYourTaste #Maccas #McDonaldsNoarlunga #McDonaldsAu #McDonaldsAustralia #Fries #GourmetBurger #CaféStyle #ToastedBrioche #Brioche #BriocheBun #SwissCheese #Egg #AngusBeef #Guacamole #GrilledMushroom #Lettuce #WholeLettuceLeaf #Tomato #CaramelisedGrilledOnion #LongSlicedPickle #Aioli #AioliSauce #Gourmet #FoodPresentation #Latergram #???? #???? #????
A photo posted by Heidi Helen Pilypas (@heidi_helen) on
My burger wouldn’t have been the same yesterday if it wasn’t for Saxon at @mcdonaldsau. He was the best ever! Walked me through the whole ordering process and has such a charming and radiant personality! He asked if I wanted a photo of him too… haha! Of course! I think I love this guy. Well done McDonald’s, well done Saxon. Top staff, top service, top experience. It’s worthwhile going into the store just to meet this guy. #CreateYourTaste #Maccas #McDonaldsNoarlunga #McDonaldsAu #McDonaldsAustralia #Fries #GourmetBurger #CaféStyle #ToastedBrioche #Brioche #BriocheBun #SwissCheese #Egg #AngusBeef #Guacamole #GrilledMushroom #Lettuce #WholeLettuceLeaf #Tomato #CaramelisedGrilledOnion #LongSlicedPickle #Aioli #AioliSauce #Gourmet #FoodPresentation #Latergram #???? #???? #????
One more photo of my meal yesterday. #CreateYourTaste #Maccas #McDonaldsNoarlunga #McDonaldsAu #McDonaldsAustralia #Fries #GourmetBurger #CaféStyle #ToastedBrioche #Brioche #BriocheBun #SwissCheese #Egg #AngusBeef #Guacamole #GrilledMushroom #Lettuce #WholeLettuceLeaf #Tomato #CaramelisedGrilledOnion #LongSlicedPickle #Aioli #AioliSauce #Fries #Coke #Gourmet #FoodPresentation #Latergram #???? #???? #????
A photo posted by Heidi Helen Pilypas (@heidi_helen) on