Donovan Smith joined Costa Enterprises in 2014 as one of the area supervisors for seven of the company’s 24 McDonald’s franchise locations. Costa Enterprises holds high standards for themselves, stressing excellent food, service, and cleanliness. And because they operate under the McDonald’s name, they must also be compliant with the parent company’s customer service rating requirements.
We spoke with Donovan about the unique challenges of customer support in the foodservice industry, and how the business has used technology to improve.
What are some of the customer service challenges in your industry?
A customer can get in touch with us many different ways --- there’s our website form, the hotline, and the feedback we get on the surveys on our receipts. And it can be about food, or staff, or the facilities. It’s a lot of feedback, and we need to get all of it to the right restaurants directly and see that it’s funneled to the right person in a timely manner. And we’re receiving feedback 24 hours a day.
How were the restaurants handling all that?
When I started years ago we were using several operator services at once to take customer inquiries. It was complicated because we were juggling information for multiple restaurants from multiple vendors. Plus, it would take days for the operating services to send us customer feedback, and even then we had to pass it on to the correct locations. So there was a delay in addressing customer concerns.
How did you use SupportBee to solve this?
When we were told we were switching to SupportBee, I was glad it was so easy to use. It was easier to manage inquiries because we could put respond templates together for different managers, some of who may not have known how to word things, so they appreciated that help.
Instead of getting information from multiple operator services, now everything comes into my core feed--even transcribed voicemails customers leave on the hotline--so I am across everything.
Now I can delegate quickly, assign tickets to different mangers and share tickets with teams so they learn how certain issues get resolved.
What were the results?
Faster time to resolution, and it’s cheaper than the operator services. For example, last night a customer called saying he had come by one of our restaurants and the bathroom was dirty. That voicemail went to my SupportBee feed, and we got it corrected that same night. Before using this platform, it might have taken more than a day to fix the issue.
Since it’s much easier to address issues immediately, my locations’ response time and especially follow up rates have really, really improved.
What features serve you best?
I always go to “all” under tickets so I get a good view of what’s open and what’s in progress each day. It’s also a great way to trust but verify that a complaint was handled, and see who commented and who sent what email.
What is Costa McD’s customer philosophy?
We have a rule of three--three touch points for customer complaints...we make three attempts to reach a customer through email and phone calls. And we like to resolve things in 24 hours.
If you met someone who was just entering their career as a food service supervisor, what advice would you give them?
I would say that there’s always a little truth to any complaint, even if it’s being a little dramatized.
Share with your team. Even if I personally handle a complaint, I have the general managers call the customer as well so they get exposure to what’s going on.
And always follow up with a customer--phone calls are a great way to build relationships so make sure to get their phone numbers [at the first point of communication].