For any small restaurant owner looking to keep customers satisfied, minor mistakes can be covered by a heartfelt apology and a comped meal. But for a fast food behemoth that churns out over 75 hamburgers a second, minor mistakes can be catastrophic. McDonald’s Inc. has certainly learned this lesson over the course of a recent series of PR blunders that left customers anything but “lovin’ it.”
It all started on a day so inherently full of joy and indulgence that only the Big Mac of fiascos could ruin it – National Ice Cream Day. McDonald’s promotion was simple – any customer could use the company’s mobile app to get a free vanilla cone on Sunday. Additionally, customers who redeemed the offer between 2 and 5 p.m. would be entered into a chance to win free McDonald’s soft serve ice cream for life, according to a company press release.
The innocent offer did not go as smoothly as planned. All day long, McDonald’s social media was under siege by ice-cream lovers irate at the app’s debilitating glitches.
Of course, the irony of a broken app wasn’t lost on customers who had experienced trouble with McDonald’s notorious broken ice cream machines.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, fast forward to McDonald’s next big promotional offer. Not only was the July 26th rollout of the UberEats McDelivery partnership service a huge step forward to compete in the lucrative food delivery market, but it was also an opportunity to regain a positive public spotlight after its less-than-stellar National Ice Cream Day promotion.
For this offer, all customers had to do was order from a select McDonald’s location using the UberEats app after 11 a.m., and their delivery driver would pull up, burger in one hand and promotional gift in the other. Gifts included picnic blankets, flip-flops, pillowcases, hoodies, and onesies, all McDonald’s-themed. Fast food-themed swag is a steadfast marketing stunt, and to McDonald’s credit, the clothing items were unexpectedly stylish. The execution, however, was lacking.
Unlike a simple app malfunction, the McDelivery’s maiden voyage was host to a number of issues. First off, eager customers were stunned at the UberEats $4.99 delivery fee. In the world of Dollar Menu fries, customers were reluctant to double the cost of their order just to save a few miles of driving for their lunch.
Past this, many customers also resented the suspiciously high quantity of the promotion’s cheapest offer, flip-flops, being handed out. Besides the obvious issue of gifting single-size shoes to a population of various shoe sizes, customers were quick to accuse McDonald’s employees of siphoning off the promotion’s best items, citing tweets depicting McDonald’s employees clad in the offer’s most coveted items, onesies and hoodies.
And as fate would have it, even more customers ran into app malfunctions when attempting to order.
Though some were quick to call out fussy customers complaining over a free lunch, it’s apparent that McDonald’s failed to regain the ground lost in their ice cream app disaster.
Conclusion: when your company has grown to serve over 62 million people a day, handling customer traffic should be second nature by now. McDonald’s, on behalf of ice cream and french fry lovers everywhere, please keep your unskilled labor behind the fryers and not in your IT department.