Perspective

How the world’s largest fast food brands use data to keep customers coming back

How McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A use social data to satisfy their customers' hunger.

Every consumer-centric brand knows that putting customers first is job number one. And one of the best ways to discover what customers want is to listen to the feedback they provide every day on social media.

Sprinklr knows this better than nearly anyone. With more than 1,500 employees in 10 countries, Sprinklr provides a truly global social media management platform for the enterprise. Sprinklr helps the world’s biggest brands engage with their customers on Twitter and more than two dozen other social channels, guiding key decisions on marketing, advertising, research, customer care, and commerce.

More than half of the Fortune 50 and some 1,200 global brands — including Allstate, Microsoft, Nike, Marriott, SAP, and NASA — rely on Sprinklr to deliver more human and intuitive experiences at every touchpoint. Analysing social data for engagement, volume, and sentiment enables these companies to make smarter business decisions and boost customer satisfaction.

Two of the best illustrations of this involve iconic fast food chains, each of which used social data in different ways to literally feed their customers.

Analysing social data for engagement, volume, and sentiment enables these companies to make smarter business decisions and boost customer satisfaction."

Ragy Thomas, Sprinklr CEO

McDonald's: Dawn of the all-day breakfast

For many, breakfast is the best meal of the day. And McDonald's knew that a significant percentage of its 69 million customers would love to order eggs or sausage after 10:30am, when its breakfast menu ended.

But how deep was their hunger? Reconfiguring 14,000 US restaurants to serve McGriddles alongside Big Macs was no trivial task. There had to be sufficient demand to warrant the investment.

To find out how important all-day breakfast was to its customers, McDonald’s turned to Sprinklr. Combing through Twitter, the company uncovered more than 334,000 Tweets from McDonald's fans mentioning all-day breakfasts going back to 2007. Even better, Sprinklr found the first person to ever Tweet about it:

Eight years, one month, and 15 days after John Lee's Tweet appeared, McDonald's replied to say his wish would soon be granted. The company then sent another 11,999 personalised Tweets to other fans who craved McMuffins at midnight, alerting them to the October 2015 debut of all-day breakfast.

“The October 6 launch became a global trend organically," says Paul Matson, US director of social media for McDonald's. "There was no paid media, we started with the people and the people did the talking for us.”

The launch was an unparallelled success. All-day breakfast is credited with helping to reverse a 14-quarter decline for the $5.7 billion company, sending its stock to an all-time high in April 2017, as well as a 10 percent improvement in positive customer sentiment. That probably wouldn't have happened if not for the social data.

Chick-fil-A: A tale of two BBQs

Social data can be a valuable way to uncover your customers' deepest desires, and then fulfill them. On the flip side, data can also reveal when you're offering something your customers don't want, in sometimes brutal fashion.

Chick-fil-A experienced this when it introduced a new Smokehouse BBQ recipe in spring 2016. That new flavour did not sit well with diehard fans. Those fans took to social to make their displeasure known.

Customers drew up petitions, started a boycott, even launched their own hashtag campaign — — in the hopes of restoring the beloved original recipe.

Chick-fil-A knew it had to respond. After the new flavour was launched, the number of mentions of BBQ spiked dramatically and Chick-fil-A's social mentions overall increased by a factor of nine. But 73 percent of the interactions were negative.

After Chick-fil-A's new BBQ flavour was launched, the number of mentions of BBQ spiked dramatically... But 73 percent of the interactions were negative."

The company decided to do something it had never done: restore the original recipe. It launched a new social promotion campaign using the hashtag , and asked Sprinklr to identify 250 especially dedicated fans to receive a surprise gift.

On the day of the relaunch, Chick-fil-A assembled a war room of team members to monitor and engage directly with fans. It engaged Sprinklr to gauge the campaign's success, measuring the volume of community and fan responses, BBQ sauce mentions, hashtags, and conversation sentiment.

Over the next three days the team reviewed and responded to more than 7,500 messages. Chick-fil-A and BBQ sauce were mentioned 18 times more often than in the prior three months, with more than 1,000 of them using the hashtags or . Most important, sentiment flipped from 73 percent negative to 92 percent positive, a stark reversal of the early outrage when the new recipe was first launched.

Chick-fil-A’s success is nothing short of remarkable. The company has nearly doubled revenues over the past five years and is now the eighth largest food chain in the country. One of the keys to its success: a willingness to listen to customers and admit mistakes.

Helping global brands like McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A get closer to their customers is fundamental to Sprinklr’s mission, says founder and CEO Ragy Thomas.

“We only have one ‘true north’ at Sprinklr: creating value for our customers,” he says. “Sprinklr creates value by helping companies solve their problems, and the Fortune 500 brands we work with have a very big one on their hands: figuring how to engage with each of their customers in a meaningful way, at scale, across every social channel.”