McDonalds – Innovation or Inconvenience?

During a recent visit to McDonalds for a sneaky bacon and egg McMuffin, I was introduced to the new (and improved?) McDonalds serving experience.

Upon entering the fast food restaurant, I was welcomed by a chap asking the question “are you paying by card?” – I answered “No, I am paying cash”; call me old school if you like. He then went onto educate me on the virtues of using the new terminal located just inside the door instead. He then pointed me to the new cashier area, where a very pleasant man took my order. He then gave a receipt pointing out a number on the top and asking me to wait over there until the food was ready. The order number would then appear on the screen, similar to Argos.

I waited for a couple of minutes for my order…Nothing was happening and I must admit to feeling like a spare part, stood with another gentleman, who was feeling very much the same. Now, this didn’t go unnoticed by the manager who informed us that the order was coming. A couple of minutes later, we were still waiting and getting a little agitated. This transaction I had conducted many times before and it had taken less than a minute or two to fulfil. The manager then came over again and told me to take a seat and he would bring the food over. Nice touch. Before taking a seat, I did mention that this process used to be much faster, his reply was “ah, but the food is fresh” at which my reply was delivered with a smile on my face “so, the food hasn’t been for the past twenty years I have been coming here”. He just smiled, obviously thinking ‘smart arse’.

A few minutes later my simple order was delivered to the table. I thanked the manager and considered the service I had just received. I must admit to thinking ‘what was wrong with the previous service?’ and what went wrong with the new ‘innovation driven experience’ in this instance. Well, in my opinion, there was nothing wrong with the old way of doing it; however, someone at McDonalds has obviously been given a new huge budget and been told to improve the speed of processing customers. Well, in this instance that was not achieved, but I could just be an exception (?).

That said, I do feel that the entire experience of visiting McDonalds should be a pleasant one, but quick and of good quality. So good quality – yes, the food was hot and well prepared; Quick – No, and at an inconvenience to me, the customer; and Pleasant – I have to say No. I don’t want to stand around with other people waiting for a number to tell me to join another queue to collect my food. If this new process demands this inconvenience to the customer, then delivering food to the tables has to be added to the service expected when eating at McDonalds. This whole experience feels like a supply chain process – force fed to the customer, not value chain – led by the customer. Not something you would expect at a good service company like McDonalds.

Now, I would add that this is only one visit, but the age old adage of ‘you’re only as good as your last visit’ rings true. Next time will I decide to wait and give McDonalds another chance (?) or pop into another fast food restaurant instead (?) and will the experience be better (?) or will I change my preference ongoing, taking my custom elsewhere (?) Now, McDonalds has no influence over any of these decisions; however, should I choose to revisit then they better get it right, if they value my custom, or risk losing me and customers like me to the competition.

Nigel Stone – November 2015

*All comments are based on my personal experiences and given freely. That said, you need to make your own choices. I can’t and wont accept liability for you employing any recommendations. Business is all about risk. It’s your choice.

Nigel stone has, over the last fifteen years, started, led, consulted and nurtured both UK and European businesses to achieve quite outstanding results.


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