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Becoming customer-centric to compete in the digital age

Nayela Deeba | Oct. 27, 2016
Find out how McDonald’s is leveraging technology to meet the evolving habits and demands of customers in Singapore.

Benjamin Boh, McDonald's
Benjamin Boh, Director, Strategy & Insights, McDonald's Singapore. 

Since eating is Singapore's national pastime, one can be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing where to have their meals in the republic. Eateries thus need to be customer-obsessed to combat such stiff competition.   

In the case of highly acclaimed fast food chain McDonald's, it has leveraged technology to meet new customer behaviour and demands, and stay ahead of its competitors.

"For the first time, the [food and beverage (F&B) ] industry is serving digital natives who want their brands to be always-on, to constantly engage them, and to provide experiences that are share-worthy," Benjamin Boh, Director, Strategy & Insights, McDonald's Singapore, told CIO Asia. "To stay ahead of the curve, McDonald's must evolve and innovate around our menu offerings and service model to enable the best possible experience at the restaurant."

McDonald's has therefore rolled out self-ordering kiosks to more than 33 percent of its restaurants across Singapore, including the outlet at Marine Cove. "While some customers still like ordering through traditional methods, some prefer self-ordering as they are already doing that when shopping online. We embrace the change in consumer behaviour and have therefore created self-ordering kiosks that are designed for easy browsing and navigation," Boh explained.

Understanding the importance of mobile devices to consumers today, the McDonald's Marine Cove outlet is equipped with wireless charging points so that customers can charge their mobile devices while dining.

McDonald's has also transformed the way children play in its restaurants. "At our Marine Cove outlet, we've combined digital and physical play by introducing shadow walls, where children can move and see their own shadows cast in the form of McDonald's characters such as Ronald McDonald and Grimace. That promotes the idea of active play rather than playing games on mobile devices while seated," he explained.

Supporting the idea of a cashless society, McDonald's accepts cashless payments apart from traditional cash. Boh shared: "[Our] unified cashless system - which was launched in Singapore in 2011 - now accepts JCB, VISA, Master, payWave, PayPass, NETS debit and NETS FlashPay.  In June [this year], we strengthened this system with Android Pay, enabling us to offer our customers an even more efficient dining experience. [So far,] an average of 375,000 cashless transactions are made at our restaurants each month."

Top challenge for businesses

According to Boh, the top challenge businesses today face is balancing consumer-led strategies with technology-led strategies.

"Consumer-led strategies are driven by the wants of the customer. These are generated by being clear on consumer insights, how that impacts the way consumers interact and engage with your brand and then developing the right solution that meets the needs of the consumers. Technology is thus the enabler. In a technology-led strategy, however, technology is the driver. This makes it potentially inhibiting as we are bound by what the technology can do, and not what the technology must do for the customer," he said.


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