McDonald’s channels Uber to keep pace with customer expectations

McDonald’s is shifting its customer experience to keep up with digital disruptors like Uber and Airbnb.


McDonald’s operates in a world of “escalating expectations” according to global chief marketing officer Silvia Lagnado, so it must evolve keep up with brands like Uber, Netflix and Airbnb.

“Convenience and value are incredibly important to the McDonald’s brand but the benchmark has changed. Disruptors have completely changed the sense of value and convenience you can get,” she told delegates at the Marketing Society’s annual conference today (17 November). “They have really shifted the consumer expectation around experience.”

In a move to make the experience in McDonald’s more “enjoyable”, the brand has introduced a number of digitally-led innovations such as kiosks that speed up the order process and table service that allows customers to “sit down, relax and have their food delivered to them at a table in a very fast way”.

Another “small but important” digital development helps the brand improve the accuracy of its order delivery at drive-through locations.

“Imagine if a six-year-old child is given the wrong dipping sauce for her Chicken McNuggets and goes home crying. That will not be a feelgood moment for the child or the mum and dad. So improving accuracy is clearly helped by voice recognition, which is an application we’re rolling out in our operations at drive throughs,” she said.

McDonald’s is also introducing an order-and-pay function for PCs and mobile devices. The service enables customers to order and pay ahead, and then pick up food at the curb side or in a restaurant.

“People might say ‘duh, why aren’t you already doing that’ but we are in the process of doing it. It’s already live in France and it’s expanding into other markets and as soon as we get the infrastructure that powers 34,000 restaurants around the world in order we’ll be able to do that. But it’s not a small task,” she explained.

“In Asia with the help of incredible digital infrastructure we bring food to you at home or your office. In fact, McDonald’s is the third largest delivery company in the world thanks to the presence in delivery in Asia.”

The brand is also looking to tempt customers with products using “smart content” displayed in restaurants based on the time of day. Down the line it will look to offer food suggestions based on “things that are a little less predictable like changes in weather” thanks to its central content management system.

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