Sitting in a McDonald's restaurant recently, I wondered how this mega corporation stays relevant to consumers in an era when we're more conscious of healthy consumption. Look at their menu and you'll see there are still many options containing high amounts of harmful ingredients (i.e. sodium, oil, fat, carbohydrates, and sugars). Nevertheless, people come in daily to this chain restaurant for a snack or a quick meal. Some stores have extended hours or even 24-hour service, and they're usually safe and clean. Customers enjoy free WiFi, free refills on fountain drinks, and can kill time, for example, when getting their car fixed. In their dining room, there's constant movement of people.
Upon closer inspection, I began to notice that their entire atmosphere was increasingly digital. The store has a touchscreen ordering kiosk and a Smartphone app for mobile users. There is a digital menu on the board, which today featured a caramel dispenser dressing the top of a frozen frappe sans assistance from human hands. With the digital elements so carefully integrated into the consumer experience, McDonald's continues to lead the fast food industry.
Where Do We Go From Here?
McDonald's teaches us that the customer experience must evolve or die. Recently, we found a Harvard Business Review webinar Qualtric's Luke Williams. He gave different ways to define the customer experience, everything from expecting the iPhone to help you check into your hotel to calling the cable company to complain about poor reception. Don't forget about going online to shop for clothes and filing insurance claims. When you have a bad customer service experience, you begin to feel differently about the company's brand. You may even think about switching brands. Williams explained that "the winners and losers in business are determined by the experiences that they provide."
Knowing that consumers have many ways to interact with a brand through digital and mobile technologies, we believe that you should focus on their experience. There are so many touchpoints, such as your current website design and product packaging. Making continuous improvements to customer experiences includes helping them successfully interact with your employees. You might also find more ways for artificial intelligence software to meet customer needs. You don't want your company to be one of those that falls short because of a reduced customer experience. You want to increase customer loyalty to survive in a volatile economy.
How to Build a Consumer Experience
It would be fair to say that major brands like McDonald's won't introduce new aspects to their consumer experiences, such as a mobile app or a new menu item, without front-loading their investment in focus testing. These brands want to understand what samples of consumers think of something they will introduce. Focus testing offers some peace of mind about the level of risk involved in introducing a change to the consumer experience. A company wants to reduce the level of risk to an acceptable level. While the effects of a change in the consumer experience don't always match the results of focus testing, there is some correlation that will encourage companies to continue the practice.
Setting Up the Consumer Experience Before Purchase
We can learn from McDonald's by considering what tools consumers need to complete their transactions in our online store. If a customer goes into a dining room instead of a drive-through, the ordering kiosk makes it easier to select choices from a digital screen and to process his or her payment. This only benefits the customers paying through electronic means, but it reduces the volume of people standing in line. Customers can easily select customizations for their double cheeseburger and avoid getting frustrated when a cashier mixes up their special request. When you think about how people want to check out through your shopping cart software, look for features that enhance their experience.
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