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Dave O’Flanagan
17 May 2019

Four lessons for all consumer brands as McDonald’s puts personalisation on the menu

When you think of McDonald’s, you think of food, done fast, by a huge global brand and franchise business. What you probably don’t think of is technology. In fact, McDonald’s is one of the last remaining names at the top of the rankings for the world’s most valuable brands not known for its tech.

All that changed in the last few weeks. The Dynamic Yield acquisition is big news for McDonald’s and a bold statement of intent, as the company sets out to capitalise on the huge potential of data, AI and personalisation.

The move is all about personalising the way McDonald’s interacts with its customers across the whole business. The prize is clear. For the customer, it will mean better menu recommendations, faster service and a more valuable experience all-round. And for the business, less waste, better customer engagement and, ultimately, a positive impact on the bottom line.

Personalisation deserves the attention of any organisation that’s serious about creating a market-leading customer experience.

This is more evidence of the rapid growth and evolution of consumer personalisation – led by the likes of Amazon, Spotify and Facebook. But stories like this serve as an important reminder that it’s not just the prerogative of the tech giants. Personalisation deserves the attention of any organisation that’s serious about creating a market-leading customer experience.

Companies like Urban Outfitters, Walmart and Sephora are showing us what’s possible. The opportunities are endless. For banks, it could mean real-time, bespoke offers for customers based on their historical activity and current financial needs. For retailers, it might be personalised deals for shoppers as they step in-store that factor in current stock levels and previous purchases. Or for airlines, live baggage information and personalised duty free deals for passengers as they move through the airport.

As McDonald’s puts personalisation back into the spotlight, there are important lessons for other organisations ready to take the next step. I think there are four key takeaways.

1. Prioritise the customer

This is all happening because consumers are in control in today’s mobile-first, fast-paced culture. Their digital experience has become a priority. Companies need to organise their people and infrastructure around customer experience to make true personalisation possible.

2. Consumer expectations cross industry borders

Consumer experience in one industry is shaping expectation in others like never before. People expect the same digital experience from their bank, utilities and fast food provider as they get from Amazon, Google and Facebook. If you don’t think personalisation is a concern for your industry now, it probably will be soon.

3. Data and AI are the enablers

We have the tech to make one-to-one personalisation a reality – the way we can now work with data, analytics and AI has the potential to be truly transformative. Companies must reassess their digital infrastructure and build a tech stack that can unlock the potential.

4. Personalisation is everybody’s business

This all points to the reality that everyone needs to start taking data, AI and personalisation seriously – no matter your industry, business or job description. Personalisation and customer experience is here to stay and we all need to get on board.

Whatever the prevailing mood around personalisation in your organisation, this move by McDonald’s should prompt some telling questions. Is my business actually making use of its data? Are we really taking CX seriously? How can we move personalisation to the next level?

Intelligent, one-to-one customer engagement is now a very real possibility for any consumer-facing brand. Take your cue from one of the world’s biggest and best: it’s time to take personalisation seriously.

Dave O’Flanagan

Dave O’Flanagan is CEO at Boxever – a market-leading personalisation platform that uses data and AI to make every customer interaction smarter. Boxever is recognised by Gartner as a leading player in personalisation and ranked by Forbes alongside Google, Apple and Amazon as one of the most powerful examples of AI in use today.

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