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.
Aw, that last photo of Evan is priceless!
one of the reasons i love your blog. and i love you. you GET IT. i’m lovin’ it.
I completely understand your nostalgia about McDonalds because I grew up in the Midwest where having our first Golden Arches was a very big deal.
However, you simply must rent the movie, “Super Size Me,” to understand the nutritional land mine McDonalds’ food truly is. I met a high school girl locally who nonchalantly told me her uncle hauls worms for McDonalds. After my double-take, her friends and Mother all acknowledged that her uncle is indeed a long haul truck driver who hauls worms to be added to the hamburger meat as an extender.
This is a fantastic social media and customer service story. Where the story stems from is irrelevant to Fadra’s point IMHO. And check facts before you believe every worm hauler story out there: http://www.snopes.com/horrors/food/wormburg.asp
And this? Is how it should be done!
What an awesome experience. I saw that tweet and thought to myself, “Oh no they didn’t!!” That’s even worse than my two boys getting different toys and crying over it.
Great pic of your son!!
That is awesome and look how happy that little boy is!!
I had a friend that worked for McDonalds as a manager and they really are a very well run company. Which would explain their success for all of these years.
LOVE a social media story gone right. I heard this phrase once a long time ago “just give ’em the pickle.” It was the philosophy that doing a little extra for your customers goes a long way in building loyalty (the “pickle” part came from the practice a deli charging a customer $.25 for an extra pickle).
From the looks on his face, it was worth LOTS of pickles.
Wonderful story! Love it!
I miss the deep fried pies as well as the dark meat McNuggets! And you’re absolutely right about McD’s being a kid’s world: I remember seeing other kids having a birthday party there and being insanely jealous!
Wow! That is awesome. I love to hear that customer service really is alive! KUDO’s for McD’s too! It seems they are frequently targets in the media for having “bad for you food” etc – ahem people….it is a choice! You can choose to eat there or not…My 3 yr old son LOVES going to McD’s – he loves the superhero toys (calls them fight guys). I have to say that McD toys are the most frequently played with toys in my house!!
Just wanted to say thanks for sharing an excellent example of the power social media has to delight customers and recover a potentially negative service experience. It’s always great to see companies doing this well, especially when they are the size of McDonalds. It just goes to show how much some of their staff care about making their customers happy!
P.S – I agree that Wolverine is by far the best superhero toy to collect, your little boy obviously has great taste!
I can remember when a McDonald’s showed up in my home town. Me and my best friend walked to it after school. I know it was a long time ago, because we didn’t think twice about walking the mile or two to get there… and it had snowed that day! We at and ate a small fries because it was ll we could afford 🙂
Very cool. McDonald’s always ends up as the de facto target of fast food critics, but the effort they’ve put into rehabbing their image and updating their stores is quite impressive.
Even if I can’t stomach their food half the time, I’m still a sucker for their sweet tea, and the service is usually top notch. Glad to hear they’re moving into social media so willingly!
That is so awesome!!! Evan looks so very pleased! 🙂
Awesome, I love that. And he is such a cutie, great pic!
I thought the phrase was “Have it your way.” Oh wait, I think that’s some OTHER burger chain.
Yup. A little bit goes a long, long way.
I loved the birthday parties. That was before kids’ birthday parties cost more than a wedding. As for me? I’ll take the white meat McNuggets please!
Isn’t that bizarre? My son loves the Happy Meal toys too. He loved the cars that came out not too long ago where the men inside popped up. I also dug out of the attic a Happy Meal toy I had saved from the 90s. It was a little Buzz Lightyear from the original Toy Story. He loved it so much until he LOST it. Thank God for eBay and people who collect those toys.
I had already prepped him for the fact that they didn’t have the Hulk or Wolverine. That was hard enough to explain. But the devastation at receiving a girls’ toy was absolutely priceless. To me 🙂
Everyone hears the negative stories all the time and they are pretty quick to share. I say, we need to teach big business the way we teach our kids. POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT!
My son got a kick out of the fact that you like Wolverine. He wouldn’t go to sleep without him planted on his nightstand.
So you walked uphill in the snow, both ways, just for a taste of those savory french fries? Well, kudos. If there is one unadulterated pleasure in my life, it is the taste of McDonald’s french fries. None can compare.
If you can’t stomach their food, you haven’t found the right menu item. Or you need to build up your fast food tolerance. It’s a process 😉
I actually told him the LPS toy was cute and it was okay if he wanted to keep it. It wasn’t necessarily a “girl toy” but he would hear none of it. Boys will be boys.
Thank God we don’t go on more roadtrips. Yes, they have healthier choices but I am not capable of making them when I have a double cheeseburger and french fries staring me in the face.
Very nice. I like when big companies get it and follow through!
We got a nice LPS basket and bird…but my Boy didn’t know the difference and took the basket and bird and peep-peeped the whole ride home.
When I came home and Fadra told me the story I was happy to hear the way McDonald’s took care of my little guy. It was a small gesture but to a 3yr old it means a lot. McDonald’s has kept up with the times offering healthier choices. I for one love going on a road trip. It means only one thing a Big Mac is in my future. Clearly Katie and the team she works on gets social media. You listen to your customers and you respond. I’m lovin’ it.
This was awesome Fadra – my experience with McDonald’s is also like yours stemming from a small town with nothing except a Hardees. And road trips from WV to Florida to visit my grandparents was my dad’s idea of a McDonald’s-fest, where we stopped at one for EVERY meal. I have one question for McDonald’s, why don’t they have more kid-friendly choices for breakfast. I don’t know about you, but my kids will only eat a few bites of pancakes and that’s about it. Where’s the waffles, french toast sticks, etc?
Verifying the parade and sharing a french fry story. Fadra’s love of french fries is inherited. Fadra, Tonya(her sister) and myself(the mom) all love Mc D’s fries. It is really neat that you can take three females from the same family, same love of fries…pile Mc Donald’s fries in the middle of the table and all three will grab for the same fry. We are all prone to examining the fries before eating one, and the ones we love the most are the slightly limp, extra greasy ones. Yummm.
Evan, you are my little super hero! Love you, Grandma
You forgot one of the most important characteristics of a perfect McDonald’s fry… square-tips are the best! Pointy-tips are always chosen LAST.
Great photos, and I’m glad you had a good experience with a mega-corp. That’s kind of rare these days.
Thanks, Serene. McDonald’s is one of the few companies that gets social media and is using it to connect with their customers. I was fully impressed and happy to share my story.
And it really helps when they make our kids happy. Kudos McDonald’s.
And, OMG we got a McDonalds when I was in jr high. It was the highlight of our town for years. We would also sneak out of school and go to McDonalds and share fries and a large coke because none of us ever had enough money to get our own food.
Such an awesome story!
That is so very cool!
That is the sweetest story. Kudos to McDonald’s, finally a company who really cares about their customers. It’s nice to see your little boy with the big smile!
When I was a kid, my dad worked at McDonalds for a couple of years. I loved all the free happy meal toys that found their way to my house.
I love that McD’s gave you such a great response to that tweet. A lot of companies could learn from that!
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How very interesting! I never would have expected a response like that. Your son is so cute!
Aww, thanks! Whether you love McDonald’s food or hate it, you have to admit
they DO respond to their customers and keep up with the times! And they have
pretty cool Happy Meal toys 😉
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