Episode #7: The Secret Story Behind McDonalds’ All Day Breakfast

Grad Conn

November 17, 202010 min read

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What do you do to reverse 17 consecutive quarters of declining revenue? You listen to your customers, learn what they want, and give it to them. This is the story of how All-Day Breakfast became a thing. And why you have modern channels to thank for your afternoon Egg McMuffin.

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Yeah, baby, it’s the CXM experience. And I’m Grad Conn CXO at Sprinklr here to talk about experience, and experience marketing and experience being the new brand.

So I’ve talked recently about listen, learn and love. I’m going to recap that quickly. And then what I wanted to do today is to actually use a real example from a real Sprinklr client who did, I think, one of the most exemplary jobs of listen, learn love that we’ve seen in a long time, and is a big success that you’ll all have heard about.

So let me start with a little bit of a recap. So listen, learn love. It’s a term we coined probably about a year and a half ago as we’re trying to think about how to describe what Sprinklr does. I think we had built the product out over many years. And to a certain extent, we had stopped talking about Listen as the fount of all things that happen in Sprinklr. It was just another feature. But I think when we looked at this as a series and thought of it in terms of like, what is the process that we’re landing, we realize that it all starts with listening. And listening is way more than just being connected to the social platforms, it’s being connected to all the messaging platforms, and the millions of blogs, forums and review sites that are out there. And more recently, we’ve actually even started pulling in things like closed caption TV, and radio and anything else that’s digital. So this idea of listen is that you want to pull in every conversation that may be about your brand, either directed to you or just about you. Every conversation about your competitors. And most importantly, every conversation about your category, because that’s where you can find real magic and real gold. The Learn part is that you’re pulling in millions of conversations.

And so it’s really hard to grok a million conversations about your brand. So there’s got to be a way of rolling that up into summary. You’ve got to have a BI system that’s quick and visual and native. And you’ve got to have AI across the whole thing to make sense of it, to be able to sort it correctly, and be able to see the key things. And that’s one thing that Sprinklr’s probably made the biggest investment in over the years. It was our CTO Pavitar Singh who, many years ago, said, as he looked at these massively increasing volumes across all these modern channels, said to the CEO Ragy, that there’s no way we’re going to be able to make sense of this, unless we’re amazing at AI. And so Pavitar started those investments many years ago. And they’re paying off today, and he’s a brilliant CTO.

And then finally love. This is another thing I think gets missed a lot. A lot of people out there are listening in different ways. Often people sample — I do feel you have to bring the whole feed in, not just samples, though some people are learning from it. But a lot of people fail to realize that the person who’s making the comment actually expects a reply. And so, love is someone who’s in pain  having a bad product experience, you got to like solve it. Somebody who is happy, amplify. Someone who’s angry, solve. Like you really have to get back to people when they’re talking about here. And increasingly, the expectation is that there’s a feedback loop. And you’re going to run it in a way that delights customers. So that’s listen, learn in love.

So who’s done an amazing job? I’m going to talk about one of my favorite brands, a place I’ve spent a lot of time and a lot of money over the years, which is McDonald’s. And we all know who McDonald’s is — one of the world’s largest restaurant chains and makers of tasty food. And I am going to tell this story about what they did to think through new menu items.

So the situation is… go back just a few years. McDonald’s had recorded 17 consecutive quarters of revenue decline… a lot of revenue decline, very challenging time in the company’s history. And they were trying all sorts of things. They’re trying salads and all sorts of different menu items. And they were running furious number of focus groups to figure this out. There was a great article, but one point in time, McDonald’s was the largest shipper of lettuce in the United States. And what they’re doing is they’re shipping the salads into the stores. They sat un-bought, and then they’d be shipping them back out again at the end of the week. And so things weren’t going great.

And so they turn to Sprinklr. And they said, you know, instead of this focus group approach, because, you know, our sense is that we’re just not hearing the truth in focus groups. Now, anyone who has been in marketing for any length of time knows that focus groups are just, you know, pure horseshit. I mean, I, the fact that we still do them makes me cringe inside. Focus groups are good for nothing because you got a bunch of people, all posturing in front of each other. And I’ll massively biased because you’ve paid them to come in and talk to you. And so not surprisingly, people were going into these McDonald’s focus groups and saying, I want healthy food and I want salads. And you know, they’re not going to say, you know what I really would like? I’d like McNuggets, wrapped in cheese. That’s what people really wanted. But they weren’t saying that, right? They were saying I want more stuff that you don’t make. And so the guidance was unhelpful.

So what McDonald’s did is they sat down with Sprinklr. And we set up a listening system and a learning system to see what were people actually asking for when they are talking to McDonald’s or talking about McDonald’s? And lo and behold, what do we see? Very interesting, you can probably guess, if you’re following the story. A lot of people asking for things like…  and they didn’t say it specifically, right. So when you’re doing listening, you’re looking for signals. No one’s gonna say McDonald’s should introduce this new menu item, no one’s gonna say that you don’t talk that way. But what they might say is, man, it’s three o’clock in the afternoon, I could really use pancakes. Or it’s midnight, I’m really drunk. I need an Egg McMuffin. Or, boy, I really wish I could have hashbrowns with my Big Mac. And, you know, at those times, McDonald’s wasn’t serving those items, because, you know, they famously would stop serving breakfast at 10:30. And you’re in there, 10:31 right there, you can see it, but you know, they wouldn’t serve it anymore. And so, McDonald’s saw all these signals, and there were thousands and thousands and 10s of thousands of people asking for different breakfast items. And so what they’re able to do is they’re able to take this to management, and show management, hey, listen, we got an opportunity here to do all day breakfast.

So some excitement, they could kind of scope it. They could see the level of desire. You might argue that people have been asking for all day breakfast for a long time. But it was hard to prove it, it was hard to, you know, see it as being just comments. Now you can actually see the data and decide to launch it in the way they decide to launch it, which is really cool. They decided to launch it with a great example of love.

So what they did was they went back to all those people. And they could do this because they’re inside Sprinklr and they had those comments. And sometimes the people had made the comment like years before. So Sprinklr keeps a real time archive — goes back five years — of everything that’s happened on modern channels. So they could go back five years to someone who said, boy I really want pancakes. McDonald’s would say, you know, on Monday, you’re going to get your wish. So they did a teaser campaign. And a lot of people were confused. Like, I think McDonald’s social team is broken, because they’re responding to a tweet I did three years ago with this kind of cryptic note.

Then on Monday, McDonald’s said to everybody, you know, pancakes are now available, introducing all day breakfast, and people went wild. The level of personalization, that level of connection and caring. You don’t normally see that from a company. And just the fact that I’d said this, and then you actually listened to me. You actually did it. That’s hot. Right? That’s super cool.

And so what happened is people started talking about it. It became a top trending topic on X, formerly Twitter and many other places. And what happened then, the offline media picked it up, became a hot story. McDonald’s had PR motions, obviously, lined up against it as well. And the confluence made it a really big deal. And if you think about that all day breakfast launch, it was  magnificent. And people were talking about it. It was exciting. It was like, you know, like the Superbowl. People were like, wow, McDonald’s got all day breakfast. This is amazing.

What’s so great about what I love about the story is that the product — all day breakfast — McDonald already had it in the refrigerator. They didn’t have to make anything. It was already there. The eggs were there. It was all there in the fridge. They didn’t have to do anything special. They just needed to continue serving breakfast. Anyway, so it was a huge success. McDonald’s, came to our conference and told us that we contributed billions to the bottom line of the company, which is very exciting for everyone at Sprinklr. And they’ve been an amazing customer ever since. And we’ve worked with them closely on a number of other initiatives as well.

And so that’s a really good example of listen, learn, love. They listen to their customers. They’re able to roll that up into a series of “what does is this comment mean, and what is the potential?” They also used it to decide which breakfast items to put in the all day breakfast menu because it’s not everything. And then they loved everyone by going back to them, showing that that they’d listened to them, and making their dreams come true.

And so we’ll study other examples of this type of behavior in the coming weeks. But I wanted to share that one because it’s one of my favorites. And thank you for listening for the CXM Experience. I’m Grad Conn, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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