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Up Next on McDonald’s Menu: Personalization Innovation

Up Next on McDonald’s Menu: Personalization Innovation

The question, do you want fries with that, may soon be replaced with a more personalized question. McDonald’s recently acquired Dynamic Yield, an Israeli tech personalization company, for $300 million, reportedly to utilize automation and customer data to offer tailored recommendations to customers at drive-throughs and digital points of sale.

The decision-based technology will power personalized service at drive-throughs, eventually expanding to self-order kiosks that frequent airports and retail stores as well as McDonald’s mobile app. The customized options will include menu choices based on factors such as time of day, weather, traffic, and trending items. It will be rolled out through 2019.

This acquisition represents a larger move by organizations to utilize technology to better meet the desires of their customers and decrease customer effort, while also driving down cost through automation. It’s an initiative that makes sense as companies like Netflix and Amazon use data to create content based on customer choices and preferences.

Today’s customers expect companies to understand them now more than ever. Findings from Salesforce have shown that 76 percent of customers anticipate companies to understand their needs and expectations. And McDonald’s acquisition underscores the fact that more and more brands are competing on personalized experiences.

Digital means for human needs

Last year during the B2B Marketing Exchange, I stated that in the end it always comes down to the humans buying your product. Customers today want to engage with your business in a personalized and contextual way, and new automated capabilities are a step in the right direction.

Of course, not every company has the means or budget for a multi-million-dollar tech acquisition. But personalization can be applied during many steps of the customer journey, from the initial greeting to when the package arrives on their doorstep. Here are three recommendations to provide moments that matter to your customer:

1. Start with the basics: What can your business do with the tools and data at your disposal? There are several directions you can take to kickstart these valuable moments. Start by nailing the dynamic merge field in your emails, then train your sales team to look at news and social data before engaging with prospects and customers. From there use the dynamic field capabilities of your marketing automation platform, such as Marketo, Pardot, or HubSpot to deliver personalized content in your weekly or monthly newsletter.p>

2. Get smarter: Think about the small ways to deliver personalization across your customer journey from marketing to sales to customer service. Consider the data you have access to that would enable your team to be more personalized: last purchase, birthday, are they a dog person, where do they live, etc.

A great example of this occurred during a recent hurricane. One of our insurance companies shifted their customer service queue to prioritize people from the impacted area to get them the help they needed with their claims. Small things and small personalization can make a big impact.

Another way to do this is to deploy an intelligent bot to enable personalization and recommendations at scale for your customers and to empower your contact center associates.

3. Reach for amazing: With IoT and other modern technologies, brands have more data than ever on their customers and the ability to influence and personalize their experience. What could an Alexa skill do for your customers, or how about geo-location and mobile push notifications to create enhanced experiences like McDonald’s is striving toward? From sporting or cultural events, to traffic, to if you’re running late for work, this is where personalization is headed.

Ready, Set, Engage

It is easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to start. I recommend starting with the basics and rethinking the data and technology you are not utilizing to its full extent and then mature into creating more and more ‘wow’ moments.

Like many things in our life, we don’t notice daily interactions until they stop working (phone, laptop, car). Creating simple and seamless experience for your customers can be an incredible orchestration of complexity in the background, but the customer never needs to see it. Think of Uber—you pick your destination, a car shows up, and takes you there—but in the background, are myriad scenes: What is your location, how far away is it, which driver is going to come, what is your rating versus the driver’s, and is it going in the direction the driver prefers as they near the end of their day?

For brands and companies, creating an amazing customer experience very often hinges on creating a simple experience, where customers don’t have to think about how seamless it was. McDonald’s latest actions is just another example of how brands are taking these vital first steps.