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“Our Customer Service is Broken”


These were the words shared by McDonald’s last week during a webconference with franchisees. The company has been struggling as of late, and an increase of complaints has not helped.


While there were some complaints related to food quality, these were overshadowed by the other complains related to customer service and employee attitude. Namely, the most complaints revolved around:


1. Rude or unprofessional employees

2. Orders taking too long to be prepared


These are some major factors in customer service, and while McDonald’s continues to be a frontrunner in the industry, continued complaints and service related issues can hurt them in the long run.
One of their challenges lies in the franchised based system – it’s difficult sometimes to ensure all franchisees are holding the same standards as corporate does, and to make sure that all operational procedures are being strictly adhered to.


This increase in complaints has definitely gotten their attention, and they will be working hard to overcome the challenges, improve service levels, and get back to where they used to be as far as customer service and satisfaction.


What can a company do when this happens? Since an increase in complaints signals concern, there are some steps that can be taken to pinpoint, address, and fix issues:


1. Determine if it’s a company-wide or regional problem. It might be there are only some locations that are showing signs of concern, or it may be a particular region. Start with these areas and talk with district managers who are responsible for these locations; has there been a change in any way? Is the manager seeing similar issues when visiting locations? It’s time to work with management for a clear review and observation to pinpoint issues.


2. Look for training opportunities. There may be a slew of new staff that may not have been trained properly, or a similar issue causing the decreased service levels. Determine if additional training is needed.


3. Ramp up your mystery shopping program. Check to see that you’re measuring the right aspects of the business. With franchises especially, it can be difficult to get buy in, especially if corporate offers mystery shopping services at the franchisee’s expense.


If you’re not doing so, it might be time to incorporate an incentive program tied to the mystery shopping program. Rewarding good service can increase its likelihood.


4. Talk to your employees. if you’re seeing a decline in service across a particular location, region, or even company wide, implement an anonymous employee feedback survey to ask employees for their thoughts and opinions regarding their work, their satisfaction, and ask for suggestions for improvement. Based on responses, this could be a great starting point for additional conversations with your employees, or signal the need for more or different training to give your employees a chance to be successful in their work.


Employee morale and work satisfaction have a direct correlation to customer service levels; when your company is seeing an increase in customer complaints, it’s time to start paying attention.