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.
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!