In Focus
COMMUNITY | Staff Reporter, Australia

"McCafé was not meeting customer expectations" states McDonald's Australia Catriona Noble

McDonald's Australia is always innovating, whether it is overhauling their McCafe concept or now offering a salad with all value meals. Read this exclusive interview with their CEO, Catriona Noble to find out what's next.

QSR Media: Is the verbal prompt/suggestion for a salad making any difference from a sales point of view?
Catriona: It’s too early to say at this stage – we’ve been offering the opportunity to choose for just under two weeks. We would anticipate our swap salad for fries option will have a positive response from customers. Many of our customers choose to swap occasionally, so by including it in the price of an Extra Value Meal we’ve made it easier for them to enjoy a serve of fresh vegetables,

QSR Media: menu board labelling - how are your customers responding so far?
Catriona: Again it’s early days but the feedback thus far from our customers has been positive and supportive.

QSR Media:  We recently interviewed some other QSR leaders who believe the government needs to invest a lot more in education around obesity and food choices, would you agree with this sentiment?
Catriona: Education is important. We would certainly be open to discussing initiatives with the Government. Equally as important is the investment we continue to make to provide choices across our menu and to improve the nutritional value of our food for example by reducing sodium.

QSR Media:  McDonald's Australia recently changed their coffee offering, what has been the response?
Catriona: Early this year we faced up to an uncomfortable truth – McCafé was not meeting customer expectations and our coffee was not up to scratch. We wanted to let our customers know that we had been, and always will be, listening to them, and we invested significant time and resources to improve the McCafé – every time they visit. We retrained our crew to be dedicated baristas. We changed our beans to a richer darker blend. And, most important of all we told customers “if you’re still not satisfied with our coffee, bring it back and we’ll replace it for free”!

The response so far has been great. Customers have noticed the changes and appreciate that we’ve listened to what they have to say.

We are the largest coffee chain in the country, and we also want to be the most loved and this is reflected in the customer response so far.

We were also very pleased that in a recent independent poll conducted by Canstar Blue, McCafé came out on top for customer satisfaction and price.

QSR Media:  Where do you see growth opportunities?
Catriona: While the burger and fries is the heart of our business, we’ve continued to innovate and push people’s expectations in terms of what a quick service restaurant can offer. If you told a McDonald’s licensee 40 years ago that they’d be serving salads or offering quality barista-made coffee, they might not have believed you. But these things have happened as a result of us listening to our customers.

We’re continuing the journey we started more than a decade age to address community concerns around the nutritional value of our menu options and offer a greater choice to customers. We have made many positive changes including healthier options for both adults and kids and ensuring nutritional information is easily accessible so customers can make informed choices.

In the future McDonald’s will continue that journey of listening to customers needs and seeking to innovate to offer what they want, whether that’s healthier choices, improvements to our service or changes to our restaurant designs.

QSR Media: The carbon tax - what kind of impact will this have on McDonald's?
Catriona: At this point we’re in the process of reviewing the legislation. What I can tell you is that McDonald’s will always deliver great value prices for our customers. 

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