I love a good story with a happy ending. I love it even more when it involves social media and customer service. But I can’t spill the beans right away. I have to make you read through irrelevant personal history before I get to my point. Because it’s my blog. And I can do that.
I’ve had a long love affair with McDonald’s. It started when I was growing up in rural southern Maryland. When I say rural, I mean that you waved at everyone you passed on the road whether you knew them or not. You left your doors unlocked at night. You didn’t go to the movies because you didn’t have a movie theater. And most of your shopping was done through the Sears catalog store, because real stores were nowhere to be found. We had one traffic light and one fast food restaurant in the entire county.
We had Hardee’s, which was adequate. It was sufficient. But one day, right across from my middle school, a McDonald’s was built.
(Cue the trumpets)
No big deal, right? Oh, it was. The town had a parade to celebrate the opening. Yes. A parade. The parade was well-attended and talked about for years mainly because we all remember Grimace fainting during the parade. Apparently that big purple suit can be quite hot.
McDonald’s was so popular that they had to remodel and expand in less than 2 years. When I was feeling really daring in high school, I would skip chemistry and go hang out at McDonald’s. I loved the characters (Hamburgler, the Fry Guys, Mayor McCheese), I loved the kids’ areas (seating booths in a ship, tree stumps as stool, and the good old fashioned playground outside), and I loved those pies. I don’t care about calories or trans fats or anything. I miss those deep fried cherry pies.
Side note: When I visited China, I found that the McDonald’s there still makes the deep fried pies. My favorite flavor was taro root.
Let’s be honest. McDonald’s has done a pretty good job at evolving with the times. They ditched their styrofoam packaging to help save the ozone layer. They offered us innovative products: McRib, McDLT, McPizza. They gave us healthier choices: Fruit & Yogurt Parfait, Apple Dippers, Grilled Chicken Snack Wraps (I did have a chance to sample their new oatmeal with fruit that they are offering this fall. I was actually quite tasty). They have installed a playland at many McDonald’s, recognizing that the restaurant is truly a kid’s world.
When it comes to marketing, they seem to be keeping up quite nicely as well. McDonald’s plays in the social media world very well. And I can vouch for that because I was on the receiving end of a pretty nice customer service experience. Here’s how it played out.
McDonald’s is offering superhero Happy Meal toys. Brilliant, McDonald’s. Because my 3 year old is a mega-superhero fan and thus we must procure the entire collection.
So off we go to the mall for a Happy Meal. I sit my little Evan down with his meal and tell him NO TOY until he eats his lunch. I grab something that’s a little less cheeseburgery-frenchfryish. When I look up, I see Evan with the saddest face I’ve ever seen, red eyes, and tears running down his face.
I thought for sure that he was going to have a fuss about which character he got. Instead, he shows me they put in the Littlest Pet Shop toy. A girl toy. Apparently, that’s quite devastating when you were expecting a superhero.
I thought it was kind of funny so I tweeted about it:
A very short while later, I got a tweet from Katie at McDonald’s offering sympathy and amends. She sent me a DM saying she could fix that and send me a new superhero and which one would I like and what’s my son’s name and what’s his favorite thing from McDonald’s and would it be alright to send him a little treat.
#1 Totally not expecting that. It is just a simple toy after all. But it means a lot to Evan. And I have eaten my fair share of cheeseburgers trying to get him all the characters.
#2 I was able to ask for the elusive “Wolverine” which is the character Evan has really been searching for.
#3 Katie sent a personal handwritten note to Evan and me along with a card for a free dessert.
#4 She sent it exactly when she said she would.
It’s true. My feelings about the experience and the responsiveness will translate into repeat visits. I like knowing that a company cares. Yes, it’s in the name of business. They want my business. I have no beef with that. Treat me like you care about my business and you are much more likely to get it.
And finally, hats off to McDonald’s for not only embracing social media, but actually getting social media. It’s about connecting with customers and engaging them. They connected. I’m engaged. I’m lovin’ it.