Thursday, June 23, 2011

What your customers will tell you

In continuation to my last post I want to give an example of what your customers can teach you.

In 2002 McDonalds reported its first quarterly loss (347.8million) in 47 years. The board wasn’t impressed – so they brought in Jim Cantalupo, a recently retired McDonalds Exec. Jim understood his customers values and interests and more importantly, he understood that they constantly changed. He needed to know who his consistent and heavy users were and why they chose McDonalds.

For a long time – McDonalds was focused mainly on children. Advertising happy meals with cool toys inside. Hell I remember getting my first toy, a cool character out of Aladdin.  Parents went to McDonalds because they could relax and connect with their children. Mothers would generally choose not to eat very much, maybe pick a fry here and there – but often chose to go hungry because connecting with their children outweighed the cost of not eating.

In 2002 children were still essential to the success of McDonalds but now there was more to it. Under Jim’s direction McDonalds decided to learn more about their customers by sitting down and getting to know them, by interviewing them while they ate and by asking them questions. Jim and his team found out moms hold the power of choice. In fact, mom’s were more likely to exercise their veto vote in 2002 because of the growing number of food options available. A family that was going to McDonalds twice a week was now only going twice a month.

Why? Well McDonalds didn’t really offer any food that wasn’t for lack of better term “dirty”. With growing concern of health and wellness in society and among the minds of mothers – one can understand why McDonalds would start to take loses. Under Jim’s direction McDonalds started to introduce their healthier eating options – the salads. In the 12 months Jim acted as CEO McDonalds saw tremendous results – all because he chose to learn more about his customers.

What can you do to learn more from your customers?