Hey folks! We're going to get started in about 40 minutes. (I wanted to get a Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddle this morning to be festive, but got to the office too late. Oops.) Be sure to drop your questions for Melody and we'll try to get to as many as we can.
Hello, Fast Company readers. Happy Monday morning! Looking forward to my chat with Chris shortly.
Alright everyone. We're going to get started in just a sec.
Thanks for having me, Chris. It's a pleasure to share a little about the work that keeps me busy.
Your title is “Senior Director of Experience Design Innovation,” which, let’s be real, is a much better title than I’ll ever have. What does your job entail, exactly?
(Not that I don't like my job title.)
(Good save, Chris -- Your Editor)
It is a great title - I got to choose it myself a few years ago.
I work with a cross-functional team of researchers, engineers, and designers to study the future and envision how both the customer and employee experiences should evolve.
We tend to work in cycles of 5-7 years. Once we have new experience concepts to prototype and test, it takes that long to pilot in our markets and get real business results.
5 to 7 years? That's nuts.
If I’m a McDonald’s customer (and I am more than I should admit, especially in front of my coworkers), when does the experience that you are in charge of begin, and where does it end?
Experience generally encompasses any interaction with the brand – at the restaurant or through digital channels. I work primarily on the restaurant experience.
We study customer behaviors and lifestyles. We develop empathy for customers and employees alike - doing the typical design research things: day-in-the-life studies, observations, empathy research, and so on.
The magic, though, is in prototyping new ways to do what we do: communicate the menu, move people through the parking lot or restaurant lobby, help customers understand their role in the process. We build out new restaurants in our Innovation Center warehouse and test everything, then move to a test restaurant, and eventually partner with a market to test in real conditions.
So... about the restaurant experience. What is an example of one of these changes a McDonald's customer might see the next time they visit?
5-7 years is not the concept phase though - that would be nuts! 5-7 is the full cycle from the learning phase through to scaling in one or more markets.
It depends where the customer lives! I'm on the global team. Many innovations we test and scale show up in markets outside the US first. One small experience improvement - small but genuine - is adding a very large order number to the receipt. That was my idea. And most people in McDonald's thought it was a good idea. So it's scaling fast. Many FC readers out there may have noticed it. I'm more proud of that than maybe I should be. But it shows you how much impact you can have working for a company this big. Even little things have impact.