How to Improve Customer Experience at a Fast Food Restaurant with Fernando Machado of Burger King

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“The expectations of people, thanks to technology, are different. You want it now, you want it fast, you want good service, you want it with no friction,” says Fernando Machado, Global Chief Marketing Officer at Burger King, regarding the company’s transformation to improve its guest experience and meet customer needs. In this episode, Fernando, an extremely successful marketer who’s been featured in Adweek and Forbes, shares how he works closely with operations and the franchise owners to make great CX come to life.

I encourage you to listen to the full episode and hear this lively conversation. You’ll find there’s advice that all of us CX practitioners can use, even if you’re not a part of a global corporation with thousands of franchises.



Establish a Framework to Connect All Facets of Your Business

Fernando shares 4 key marketing pillars that his team has instituted, which plays out in the way they look at their guest experience. These pillars aren’t exclusive to marketing and need to align with actions that are being carried out for CX improvements.

If the guest doesn’t have a good experience at a Burger King restaurant, they’re probably not going to return, so here are the 4 components that Fernando and his colleagues refer to when creating a pleasurable experience:

  1. Advertising and Design: Is this consistent across all stores? Is the story being told accurately and is the design of the store on brand and guest friendly? 
  2. Technology: How can it be used to improve the guest service both in the store and outside of it?
  3. Food/Food technology: There are a lot of initiatives around cleaning up ingredients and sourcing of official colors and flavors. Additionally, they’re working on limiting preservatives, looking into sustainable sourcing, and environmental sustainability.
  4. Analytics: helping markets to structure their calendar, understanding their segments better, knowing what type of communications works and doesn’t work, and help with media optimizations.

You Need To Be A Team Player At All Levels

Episode 149Burger King has a multitude of franchises, and Fernando has to work with these business owners and develop strong relationships so that they feel connected to the Burger King corporation. Fernando shares that establishing these relationships was an important step in making an impact beyond guest services.

After spending time with the various owners, Fernando started to understand how to best communicate with them and began sharing their success stories with leaders at the corporate level. Fernando stresses the importance of being a team player and putting the spotlight on others. He saw this as a way to galvanize the owners in moving the global vision of the corporation forward.

According to Fernando, being a team player is embedded in the Burger King ethos. He explains that his corporate office is an open floor concept, where he’s in close proximity with other leaders in the corporation. This open floor plan allows him to work better with the people around him; they spend a lot of time working together in a culture that’s transparent, team-focused, and not hierarchical.

Fernando explains that working together in the office and working various shifts at a Burger King restaurant helps leaders come together as a team. Like many other leaders taking charge of CX, he understands the importance of experiencing the field work. Fernando shares that everyone in the corporation, including the CEO, has to spend at least three days working in the restaurant. Having hands-on experience in the store, helps corporate leaders understand how the decisions they make at the top impact the employees doing their jobs on the field. 



It’s a Competitive Market, Invest in Technology

In today’s fast food market, there’s a lot of competition, and customers have higher expectations. According to Fernando, at Burger King, they are making it a priority to keep up with the evolution of the consumers’ needs.

Another core piece of the guest experience is ensuring that people feel good in the environment they’ve created. It was up to him and his team to think through design elements that would cater to the needs of their guests—such as comfortable seating, wifi, power outlets, music, and more.

According to Fernando, technology plays an important role in the way we eat, and he shares that Burger King is investing a lot in its technology. They want to use technology to make the customers’ lives easier, which means creating seamless apps, improving drive-through services, and developing partnerships with delivery services.

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then? 

Fernando says:

“I think that I wish I was more patient in the beginning of my career. I wish I knew how to influence people the same way I influence people today. I wish I grabbed the phone more instead of sending emails. I wish I knew the power of creativity and how to leverage that consistently when I was a brand manager.”

“People need to work on something that they are completely obsessed about, you know? I love what I do. So people sometimes say “oh my God, this week you put really long hours.” Yeah, but it didn’t feel like that because I really love what I do. I want to cause an impact on the industry, to the brand. I want to see people smiling when they see a material from the Burger King brand. I want to see people happy when they see the design that we did for the restaurant. You know, I am obsessed about the work that we are doing here because I love this. And if you feel otherwise in relation to what you’re doing today, maybe that’s not what you should be doing. And there is something out there for you. You know, find what that something is and be obsessed about it.”



About Fernando Machado

Prior to joining BK, Fernando worked for 18 years at Unilever. Starting as an intern, he moved up the ranks working different product categories and brands, including Dove where he led the groundbreaking “Beauty Sketches” (Titanium GP in 2013).

Fernando was recognized by Adweek as Grand Brand Genius in 2013 (and again as Brand Genius in 2018), by the AD Club of NY as Marketer of the Year in 2017, by Business Insider as top 10 most innovative CMOs in both 2017 and 2018, and by AdAge as top 50 most creative people in the business in 2017.

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