Sign outside McDonald's Plaza, one of the four...
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Every business deals with poor customer service. The larger the company, the more customer service snafus occur. It is the nature of the beast, or the business if you will. Yet, how the company handles it, especially in today’s realm of social media, is where the company can shine or fail.

McDonalds is one of the largest companies out there. With over 32,000 franchise locations, 400,000+ employees and 62 million customers a day, there is significant number of point-to-point contacts with those customers on a daily basis.

I admit I rarely go to McDonalds. Not out of disregard for the company or the food, but solely for the fact that I am at home more often than. This one day, however, I found myself traveling with a toddler that fell preemptively fell sleep. An unfortunate timing: he had a full belly of yogurt and crackers, but my stomach was rumbling. Especially since it had been a long morning, and we had been on the road for 3 hours.

A drive-thru was my only option and I knew there was a McDonalds nearby. After waiting in the drive-thru line for over 15 minutes (couldn’t get out of the car due to said sleeping toddler) I quickly scanned the (confusing) menu with the tiny print on the billboard as I attempt to communicate my desires through the little black box.

As I drove up to the pay window, I asked the employee about the pricing of my meal since I thought the price was $4 and not $8. After several rounds of “I don’t know” why the price is different, he finally gave me an answer (value meal vs. single items). However, he made it clear that he did not like my questions and proceeded to snap my change in my hand, slam the little window, and stomp (literally) to an office and (based on the hand gestures), complain to someone about me. While I get that all the time from many blog haters, I was in shock. I was hungry, I barely come here and I get an employee that is off his rocker. As I drove to the food window, I asked that employee to please get a manager as I could not get out of the car. Someone came over and I mentioned what had occurred. She handed me a free burger card as an apology.

As I drove off shaking my head, I reached into the McDonald’s bag to placate myself with fries as least. As I bit into a cold fry, I tweeted.

Within hours, I had two McDonalds social media representatives tweet me back saying how sorry they were about my experience. “Wow”, I thought. Someone was listening. Someone cared that I had a bad experience and cold fries. They wanted to know what happened and when I told them, they passed the details to the restaurant general manager: to improve, to learn and to prevent. They also sent some free coupons for a future visit.

In the few months since the incident, I have not been able to stop thinking about the fast social media response and the forwarding of the information to the restaurant in question. A winning combination that other organizations should make note of in their social media strategy. Furthermore, it is not just the “poor service” response plan that amazed me. All companies with a social media presence should be scanning Facebook and Twitter for questions too because it is never good to hear stories of no response when a consumer asks a question of a brand. Both levels of engagement (crisis management and proactive management) build positive customer relations and customer loyalty.

Next time I have a sleeping toddler in the backseat and a craving for fries, I know where I am going. What about you? Tell me about a positive customer service experience you had, and one person will receive a handful of McDonalds free product coupons valued over $10.


Rules: (Gotta have them)

Leave a comment about this post; US entrants welcome. Include your name and email in the appropriate fields so I can contact you if you win. (Including just first name or first name + last initial is OK!). For your safety, please do not put your email in the actual comment. Anonymous or SPAM-like comments will be discarded. Entry period closes at 11:59PM ET, Monday, November 14, 2011.
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One lucky winner (drawn randomly via “And the Winner is” WordPress plugin) will receive the coupons. No substitutions and the winner will be notified directly via e-mail who has roughly 48 hours to respond and claim their prize. They then will be listed back at this post using first name only. A minimum of 5 people must enter in order for the Giveaway to occur. Winner must comply with all rules mentioned here, or a new winner will be selected. Charlene Chronicles has the final decision on the winner and is not responsible for wrong email addresses or notification being tagged as spam. Full legal disclosures can be found here.
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Image used with permission. I received no compensation for this post. I sincerely appreciate the Mc-Awesomeness of McD_EasternMA and Amanda_McD, as well as the great Alison at their Boston-based PR company. The coupons I received I am giving away to one of you.

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