Friday, February 13, 2009

Business Lessons from a McDonalds Experience: How to Turn Off Customers

Normally I try to pick the positive things out in life. On this blog entry I'm going to point some good lessons I learned from a bad experience at a McDonald's recently. So in the end, maybe it was a worthwhile experience? ;-) So...

It was late and I needed some refreshment. You know the drink that refreshes (Coke of course), a built to order hamburger (no onions, etc) and another chance to experience the speedy service system that has revolutionized American eating...

Try to Confuse the Customer
I pulled up to the drive thru and stated my simple, CEO request: "#1 with no onions, a coke and that's all". (sometimes, to the chagrin of my wife, I also let them know it is "to go"--just in case that question will come up) Now with that straightforward, no loop holes, request you would think, "No questions", but then that maddeningly confusing question: "Will that be medium or large?" Now is the medium what comes with? Or did they jerry rig those sizes again and large is actually a super duper mini and I need to order a super x-large to get a medium? "I'll just take a regular" I say, trying to get what comes included. "Sorry we don't have a regular, sir". Rggg. Now I'm not going to "beat around" and say "Could I just have what is included?" And the metallic voice says "Sir, I don't understand that request, do you want small or large?" Finally in frustration I find a way to cut through this obfuscation "Could I have the drink that is included for $5.99?". "Yes, sir." Whew...

Plan Not To Deliver The Customer's Request
Now just let me say that when you "special order" at fast food drive thru, always CHECK the order. I think somewhere in the operation manual for fast food operations it says "If the customer is in drive thru, ignore any special orders because its too hard for the customer to get them corrected." And since these employees were following the handbook, I got onions free. At our company I'm known for this mantra "If you didn't test it, it doesn't work." You know, I guess I didn't check it so...I'm to blame! ;-) Well, maybe McDonalds doesn't plan not to deliver, but I'm awfully suspicious.

Deliver a Disappointing Solution
Have you ever had that thirst for "the taste that refreshes" only to recieve a fountain soda that was hard tell exactly what flavor it actually was? It's dark colored so it has to be coke, diet coke or rootbeer but the taste is so flat it really could be anything? Or the taste of fresh, hot, crisp (and heart attack inducing) McDonald's french fries irrationally caught hold on you? Only to recieve old, lukewarm, limp, mushy things?

You know we can beat up on McDonald's but actually most companies have the capability to make the mistakes above. But if we are aware of them its the first step to improving.