McDonald’s Connects with Employees and Customers

At AMA’s MPlanet conference today, I had the opportunity to be part of a special Blogger Q&A session with Mary Dillon, Executive VP and Global Chief Marketing Officer for McDonald’s. She talked about a strong focus on employees, reaching out to moms, and social media.

Connecting with Employees

Mary started the session by sharing about the strong social networks that have been built by and around McDonald’s employees, or crews. “We have over 1.6 million employees around the world, and we try to inspire the crew to feel great, deliver on the brand promise, as well as reduce turnover.” There are several internal social networks which not only engage crews but also give them the opportunity to become more educated (with some even getting credit for it!). Some of these crew communities include MeTime in Australia and New Zealand, OurLounge in the UK, Latin America’s McLand (hope you speak Portuguese!), Singapore’s Ketchup!, and USA/Canada’s StationM. On this last one, Canadian Amanda Wilson was recently voted, by fellow employees, to be the resident blogger and moderator for this community.  Per Mary, these internal-only communities really help crews with engaging, bonding, and living the brand.

“Each employee could be the one experience someone has with our brand. This is a great way tap in and get people on the same page, share experiences.”

Customers Rock! take: I agree with Mary about the impact each employee interaction has with the brand. This could be a returning customer, or it could be someone new to us. Either way, each brand interaction adds up to an overall brand experience, and in this economy, it is important to make sure those experiences leave a positive impression.

Connecting with Customers

Back in 2005, McDonald’s started a Moms advisory panel – Moms’ Quality Correspondents. Per Mary, McDonalds wanted to learn more about this group of customers and be more closely connected to what they are feeling, needs, brand perceptions, and how they would like to evolve it. It is a live (ie. not online) group with participants from multiple countries, including athletes such as Bonnie Blair, a mom in Latin America who is a chef, another mom in the USA who is a PTA president. The McDonald’s team meets with them once per quarter to find out how to improve. There are now panels country by country.  When asked whether this would move online, Mary responded that enjoy the face to face experience with these moms, and the amount of online activity varies country to country. In the US, it is primarily online.  One of the moms also had her own community where she shared her McDonald’s experiences. Recently, she took a trip to a McDonald’s supplier (they send these moms on field trips!) and blogged about it. Usually, these ladies authentically share what is surprising to them!

When asked about how they recruit the moms, Mary shared a few criteria (one was NOT that they eat at McDonald’s). They tend to look for a woman who is a community leader, an influencer, and someone who will bring in strong perspectives (and share them out, too).

Customers Rock! take: Spending time listening to your customers is a critical part of forming a great customer experience. How do customers perceive your brand? What do they tell their friends (and others)? At a minimum, give customers a place to provide you feedback (online, if your customers are online a lot). If you can meet live with customers to hear this feedback, all the better.

Social Media

McDonald’s sees social media as a great opportunity to gather consumer information on attitude and perceptions about the brand. Per Mary, “This is a big opportunity for us; we haven’t tapped into it much yet, but we will!” She also stated that they are willing to look beyond merely the cost of doing social media marketing, as they recognize that this is a different kind of conversation. I couldn’t have said that better myself!

Customers Rock! take: McDonald’s will be a company to watch in these upcoming months. They have a great focus on taking care of employees and getting them engaged with the brand. This will continue to bring them benefits as they move towards engaging their customers online through their website, through communities, and through the social web. Based on the interactions I could see at the Moms’ Quality Correspondents site, there are a lot of consumers that want to more closely engage with McDonald’s and their offerings (how can I be one of your moms?). Now is the time to cement relationships with brand loyalists, turn them into brand ambassadors, and really harness the powerful social networks that many consumers already have in place.

Thank you so much, Mary, for sharing your time with us. You rock!

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37 Responses

  1. Thanks, Becky, for this fascinating example of using social media to engage employees. What a great way to reach out to connect employees with each other as well as back to the corporate brand. I hope at some point you can do a follow up with Mary (if McDonald’s will continue to share their experience) for “lessons learned” from these internal social networks – from both the company’s and employees’ perspectives.

  2. Becky – excellent recap of the round table discussion. As we learned from Mary sharing her insights a well trained and enthusiastic “crew” is critical to creating a consistent global brand that reflects the local culture.

  3. Hi Becky – nice recap of your conversation. I think it is refreshing to see “social media” coverage that does NOT include Twitter. (Though McDonald’s is on Twitter – see @McNugnuts.) I think using social media to connect crew members is really interesting and powerful. Like Best Buy’s Blue Shirt Nation.

    Thanks – TO’B

  4. McDonald’s has to be the classic example of excessive consumerism and reactive rather than proactive social conscious. They were the frontiersmen in enabling the demise of the American Institution of families dining together. I wonder why they do not promote family packs instead of Super Size me’s. I think their efforts to use social media to continue their unsavory empire are astounding. Making money is great! but when is the social price too much? If Ray Kroc could have forseen the impact on family social life I wonder if he would have done it differently. I am just saying…

  5. Sounds like McDonald’s has come a long way since I worked there (age 17 at $1.90 an hour). “If there’s time to lean, there’s time to clean”…

  6. The thing about this theory is that it only works for a very large organization. It also only works within pre-defined limits. No way are people being honest on something that their boss can see, and that they could be fired for. Its just one more PR newsletter in a digital wrapping. Then again, given the company hosting it, I’m not amazed that it seems so tacked on. For most companies, a more personal and timely medium (like an IM with a group chat, or even video chat) would be the better choice.

  7. I must agree with Kate, employees will never be fully honest if there is a danger that their boss/supervisor can see what they really feel about the company – and, of course, people who are 100% happy with their job are as rare as flying pigs 😉

  8. Connecting with your employee is one way of gaining their honesty and in some way their loyalty!Employee satisfaction is one factor that would innovate them to produce quality products/services and quality products/services means satisfied customers!

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