ImageVery few brands deal with 28 million customers a year let alone each day like McDonald's does in its restaurants. This gargantuan level of interaction continues on social media as the brand receives 5 mentions a second on Twitter alone, adding up to over 430,000 per day! Twitter, by the way, accounts for over 80% of McDonald's social mentions and not surprisingly is thus the focus of their social customer service activities.

Trying to sort through all of these comments and figuring out what to do with them is not an easy challenge but Kim Musgrave, McDonald’s Social Media Team Leader is definitely up to the task.  Kim and I were on a panel together in New York last week (Social Media for Customer Service Summit) and I was particular impressed that her team actually routes customer complaints back to individual store managers whenever possible within one hour of the initial post!

It was this commitment to extreme customer satisfaction in real time along with her honesty about the inadequacy of sentiment measurement tools that inspired the interview below. I’m lovin’ that and hope you do too.  

Neisser: How long have you been in your current role and how long have you been at McDonald’s?

Musgrave: I have been at McDonald’s just over four years, and as the social opportunities evolved, I became the Social Media Manager in Customer Experience & Insights in 2011. In this role, I work closely with the Communication & Marketing teams to drive the social media strategy for customer engagement and insights for the U.S. business. This includes developing processes for targeted engagement to build customer loyalty as well as using social data as a source of customer feedback about products and service.

Neisser: The Twitter handle @Reachout_McD is relatively new. Tell me a bit about the thinking behind this particular handle relative to @McDonalds and how it has worked thus far. 

Musgrave: The @McDonalds Twitter handle was born in late 2009 as a way for our customers to follow us for the latest McDonald’s news and promotions. As our follower count grew, so did the opportunity to give our customers a place to share feedback, ask a question, etc.

Neisser: @ReachOut_McD Twitter tends to be mainly listening & responding versus creating original content. Just curious, why?

Musgrave: Our social service team responds to @McDonalds customer service issues via the @Reachout_McD dedicated handle. We wanted a place to celebrate our customers who have great experiences at McDonald’s, so we re-tweet those as well.

Neisser: There is a lot of chatter on Twitter about McDonald’s every day. What kinds of challenges has this created from a listening standpoint?  

Musgrave: McDonald’s serves over 28 million customers in the U.S. each day. In social media, McDonald’s is currently mentioned every second! While tracking total volume/buzz is one metric, we really want to get to the “meat” of the conversations. Due to the fact that about 80% of our mentions are from Twitter, this context can ben be challenging with slang, sarcasm and profanity. “Just killed this Big Mac,” is that positive or negative? We are currently testing tools to get to the sentiment and emotion behind the mention and are finding only about 10% have this insight.

Neisser: Given all the noise, how do you decide what is worthy of a response?  

Musgrave: Our cross-functional team focuses on @McDonalds for listening and engagement 7 days a week. This team includes Customer Service (both at home office and call center), Communications, PR, and Agencies. As the volume of mentions has increased, we developed a “Playbook” with guidelines for response and a very simple Red, Yellow, Green light system.

Neisser: Everyone talks about social listening but not every brand is doing it. How well do you think your team is listening, and are there any tools that are working particularly well for you?

Musgrave: McDonald’s has been listening in social media since 2008 and the way we report to the business has evolved as we have communicated the value of social data. Sentiment is the most challenging, as I mentioned above, so having a tool that can capture the volume, then break down the context in an accurate way, continues to be an area of opportunity.

Neisser: Can you provide an example of social listening that helped inform other business activities (marketing, product dev, etc)?

Musgrave: Improving the restaurant experience is one of the opportunities for McDonald’s customer engagement in social. These engagement insights are combined with the traditional voice of customer insights to identify opportunities: how fast, accurate, and friendly is the service? Trending this over time (ie. monthly) can provide opportunities for operations.

Neisser: If a comment happens to come from a famous person, do you handle the response differently?  

Musgrave: Every customer of McDonald’s is important regardless of Klout, number of followers or celebrity status.  Recently, McDonald’s tweeted Al Roker because he missed his first day of work in 39 years by sleeping in. We thought it would be fun to post about it regarding McCafe and then they mentioned it on Good Morning America.

Neisser: Let’s talk about your social team structure.  Do you have a separate group for brand social and service social?

Musgrave: We have a cross-functional team. Social customer service is my area, and I have a dedicated supervisor for Twitter customer service. We are currently working with a few of our call center agents to develop the social care process. Facebook is managed by an agency, but we stay very closely aligned and work on service processes.

Neisser: How do you see service via social media evolving over the next 2-3 years? What kinds of things would you like to see improved?  

Musgrave: I see the customer expecting brands to be very responsive (just like calling), but also authentic in social customer service—no auto replies. For brands with increasing mentions in social, having the best social tool for prioritization and routing will be a necessity.