Reputation Management In A McNugget World March 6, 2009

Written by: Digitally Approved
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Maybe you saw this story on TMZ where a woman called into 911 several times to complain that her local McDonalds refused to refund her money after they ran out of Chicken McNuggets. Knowing how crazy one can get over Chicken McNuggets, I understand her frustration. While calling 911 several times is extreme, her calls are now posted on one of the biggest entertainment news sites online. No matter how you look at it, it’s bad news for McDonalds. Reputation management has always been a huge task for any brand, but couple that with the economy and the growing social media world and it can spell even bigger troubles.

In the end it’s not the fact that McDonalds ran out of McNuggets or that this woman tied up life saving resources to complain about it. It’s actually that this one woman, with no blog and no real influential voice, was able to impact a multibillion dollar company’s reputation.

So what can McDonald’s do going forward?

  • Customer service access – every brand should display an avenue to communicate customer frustrations. It can be a sign with a 1-800 number to customer service or information on where to complain on the web. Most customers will ‘eat’ the $.99 they lost in the ordeal if they feel they can voice an opinion somewhere and have it heard by the brand. If nothing else, it will help prevent customers from going to public forums to voice their frustrations.
  • Customer service education in a social media world for all employees. If the manager at this McDonalds knew that this woman’s 911 call would make it on to TMZ they might have handled the situation differently. The old saying ‘The Customer is Always Right’ takes on a whole new meaning when we all began to understand that every customer has more power then you could ever imagine in today’s digital world. Reputation management online is something that should be addressed with every employee from the CEO to the delivery driver. We understand you can’t please everyone, but remember if you don’t even bother to try, that customer could cost your brand more in the long run.
  • Lastly, use this incident to launch a new platform. I would thank this woman for bringing the error to the brand’s attention. “No customer issue is to small to fix, and McDonalds is committed, which is why we are launching” …Twitter, customer service website, etc.

If nothing else, keep a solid supply of Chicken McNuggets in every store. Remember Americans are hurting in this economy and a $.99 Chicken McNugget meal is no laughing matter.