Archive for May 13, 2016

McDonald’s & Table Service


I remember when my three children were young and we would venture out to McDonald’s. This would often times be in the dead of winter, since they offered a Playland where the kids could burn off some energy and I could get a small break. I recall the challenge of balancing a tray while trying to fill drinks, keep track of the kids, and find a seat. It wasn’t always easy.


It looks like McDonald’s knows that and has been making some big changes, or at least testing them out. One McDonald’s location in the UK is testing table service at their restaurant, along with 13 others across the UK. This follows other trial runs that were done late last year in US locations, including some California locations.


The main idea was to alleviate the stress of trying to find a table while walking around with a tray of food, especially so for parents like I was back in the day. There are other benefits to the change as well:


  • Customers can place orders at digital kiosks for more efficient ordering. Some locations are still taking orders at the counter, and others are offering both options.
  • Table service will “force” employees to come out from behind the counter, which should lead to more customer engagement as employees are delivering meals and assisting customers at the ordering kiosks.
  • Engaged employees can lead to better customer satisfaction, something that the fast food giant has struggled with over the last few years.
  • While the initial impression is that self-serve kiosks may result in needing less employees, this could actually be the reverse, especially in locations that offer “traditional” ordering at the counter. Especially during heavy customer traffic, additional employees will be required to deliver meals, which could help create more jobs.


I’d anticipate that this change will slowly take over the chain in some capacity. There may be challenges to the new process, especially in high volume restaurants during a rush, but overall it appears that this could be a welcome change for McDonald’s. Listening to the voice of the customer and making adjustments based on this feedback is important, and it looks like McDonald’s knows that.



A Fresh Set Of Eyes For One DMV




Going to the DMV is never a pleasant experience – they are noted for long wait times, unpleasant staff, and other issues that cause dread in people needing to visit.

The DMV in Connecticut is making some big changes.  Commissioner Michael Bzdyra was recently appointed to the position, and after a close look at operations with what he refers to as “a fresh set of eyes” is making some sweeping changes to help improve the consumer experience, some of which include:

  • Conducting focus groups and surveys to learn more about why consumers aren’t utilizing the online services
  • Streamlining the telephone system to cut down on inefficiencies and wait times for callers
  • Creating accountability by appointing a Chief Operating Officer. Along the same lines, he is working to improve the training procedures at the facilities

These are three of the major changes coming based on a recent article. In this case, it’s a great opportunity for a new person to step in and take a look at overall operations from a fresh perspective; that is one step in fixing some of the general issues that can arise.

For your business, is it possible to implement changes and find a “fresh set of eyes” without changing key staff?

Absolutely. Here are a few tips:

  • Similar to what this DMV is doing, take an objective look at processes in place. Now is a good time to ask employees for feedback and look at customer feedback survey data – any trends or consistent trouble spots? If so, you now have a starting point.
  • Get a fresh set of eyes from outside the company. Hiring a mystery shopping service to get a baseline snapshot of the customer experience can give greater insight as to areas of strength and weakness. Couple the data from this baseline study with the results of your employee & customer feedback.
  • Keep staff accountable. Once you have done the above steps, it’s time to lay out a plan to make improvements, renew training initiatives if needed, and then create a consistent measurement system. Mystery shopping is just one way this can be done; consider quality control monitoring of your call center, manager spot checks, or even spot check evaluations to collect objective data about the customer experience. Analytical reports can be used to continually monitor and gauge performance across staff, locations, or geographies. Use this data in performance reviews, training sessions, and incentive programs for maximum effectiveness.

For the Connecticut DMV, it will take some time before the benefits of the sweeping changes will be seen. However, this new Commissioner is doing things right, and it will pay off in the long run.


JC Penney: Pinterest + Bloggers = Success


jc penney pinterest


Looks like JC Penney is upping the ante in preparation for Mother’s Day!

It’s no secret that the retailer has been struggling for a few years now; they’ve tried different marketing tactics, pricing campaigns, and new staff. This newest marketing promotion, though, may be one that sticks.

The retailer announced that it was teaming up with Pinterest in a unique way. In the weekends leading up to Mother’s Day, JC Penney and Pinterest held events at 10 malls throughout the nation. Pinterest provided large “boards” measuring 10X9X2 and displayed them within the designated malls. The boards featured JC Penney clothing styles, hair ideas, and makeup for complete looks in a format similar to Pinterest.

JC Penney got another important social arena on board – popular bloggers – who helped promote the event, model and discuss JC Penney clothing on their blogs, and offer fashion advice. Finally, they had sales associates modeling the latest trends.

Here’s a sample event notification that includes all of the activities customers could enjoy:


jcp event


It looks like JC Penney did several things right:


  • They learned that their consumer demographic mirrors that of Pinterest users, and created a relationship with Pinterest to engage both users and consumers, both those that are following the brand on Pinterest and those that may not be.
  • They incorporated bloggers into the mix. If there’s one thing we learned about the younger generation, it’s the influence of bloggers, vloggers, and YouTube “celebrities.” The weight of their opinion is quite influential, and JC Penney took note of this.
  • The company rewarded its Pinterest users and encouraged more to follow. By incorporating a “show us you follow us on Pinterest” to receive a goodie bag of discounts, samples, and free stuff, it generated viral buzz. This could encourage others to follow the brand on Pinterest before the event; if they like what they see, they may stick around for the long haul.


JC Penney has had a tough road; I’m wondering if this new campaign will turn the corner for the struggling retailer. At any rate, it’s a great example of how to combine the on and offline world for a successful marketing campaign.