How McDonald's took complaint resolution from 10 days to 10 seconds with digital vouchers

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan March 22, 2023
Working with Ventrica and Zendesk, McDonald's has slashed its customer response time and made significant sustainability gains.

Ronald McDonald

Fast food firm McDonald’s has rolled out a digital voucher scheme to speed up the firm’s complaints resolution process in order to improve the customer experience. 

Talking at this week’s European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards event, Ian Partridge, Vendor and Service Innovation Manager, McDonald’s, recalled that when he joined the firm five years ago, one of the things he noticed was that when it came to customer service, the brand wasn’t as quick as it needed to be: 

Customers had an expectation of, 'I've been in, I've had my food, it's been a couple of minutes' and stuff like that. But if there was something wrong, or they had an issue with that order, then that customer service could take a significant amount of time to get resolved.

This wasn’t just an issue related to volume, he added: 

It was down to how we gave our gestures of goodwill to those customers. This was a paper voucher solution, which literally required somebody to sit at a desk and stuff paper into envelopes...not hugely efficient. Customers would constantly call us back chasing vouchers, or the vouchers had gone missing in the post etc. So we really wanted to look and say, 'How do we improve that customer journey? How do we bring our customer service in line with the experience that customers have in restaurants?' That was quite clearly in my mind gonna be a digital solution.

Now, with a large estate like McDonald's has, that is never a quick process to deliver. There was a lot of things around technology within the restaurants, and our scanners that we needed to bring in line before we could start to deliver this. But when we looked at digital, it was going to be quicker. It was going to be better for customers. Customers could literally have that resolution in a very short period of time. It was a nicer journey for customers. They felt more listened to, because they had a response in a reasonable time, and it allowed us to develop vouchers outside of a single five pound monetary value, into something that felt much more aligned with what customers required.

Technology solution

With that in mind, working with outsourced customer experience agency Ventrica, the customer journey was mapped out and KPIs identified. McDonald’s franchisee business model meant that there were internal stakeholders to be contacted and brought on board. Ventrica worked with Zendesk as the technology partner to provide the digitized voucher solution on behalf of McDonald’s. 

There were clear customer-facing objectives identified for the new system, including cutting down response times. With the paper-based approach, it could take 10 days to get a handle on an issue and provide a resolution…and that was before the physical voucher was put in an envelope and sent off in the mail! 

That was taken down from 10 days to 10 seconds, said Patridge, although that in itself isnt the whole story: 

It wasn’t actually 10, it was less than 10. It was less than five. In fact, it’s about a tenth of a second. If you look at the end of that customer journey, there’s your voucher eligibility. By the time you’ve finished the conversation with our virtual assistant, then that voucher is in your hands, literally less than a second later. 

He added: 

That was a big result that actually made customers feel like they were being listened to. When dealing with a resolution takes hours and days, sometimes that frustrates customers. Sometimes customers feel that their their issue isn't being taken seriously or isn't being listened to. But if you get that resolution, with a response and apology, in that customers hands within seconds, then that makes them feel like you're really engaging with them on a very personal level. So for us, putting that customer first and foremost that was a massive win for us.


There have tangible benefits for McDonald’s itself, including a 50% reduction in voucher-related AHT (Average Handle Time), a 35% improvement in FCR (First Call Resolution) rates, and a 30% increase in customer satisfaction levels. And with sustainability at the top of today’s corporate agenda, the shift from paper to digital means that annual carbon emissions have been reduced by 2.64 tonnes. 

And there’s more to come now that the digital vouchers initiative has provided a solid foundation, explained Partridge: 

For us, it's like the sky's the limit. It's, 'Where do you take that?'.  Once you've got a springboard like that, and you look at a lot of the technologies that are coming along now, you look more and more about how do we understand exactly what that customer's issue is? How do we resolve that quickly? How do we, effectively, take the human out of the loop on those, while still showing the customer that they're valued, still showing the customer that we care and we're listening to them. 

We're using that automation, we're leveraging digital enhancements to ensure that they get that resolution quickly. And then the agents that we have - because let's face it, we're always going to have humans here and we're always going to have agents involved - they can then focus on issues that are more important to customers, issues where that human touch is needed to ensure that they get that right resolution. So it's very much a balance between between the human element and the digital element. I think we will do a lot of good stuff. Things are only evolving. I think that the landscape is developing so quickly now, that we will look at technologies and where they add value, where they give us something that we believe enables our customers, enables our franchisees, enables our agents.

Meanwhile, customers are noticing the difference, he concluded: 

There are a number of comments that come back now. It’s, ‘Thanks for your speedy response’. Again, alluding to [the idea] that, with a lot of people, if you take too long, they feel like you don’t care. That was never the case. It was the fact that perhaps our processes weren’t as good as they should have been at that point. But now we’ve moved on and we’ve got to this point, it truly does mean that people feel like we are listening, because we are!. 

A grey colored placeholder image