Doing Whatever It Takes…At McDonald’s!

I’m BAAAAACK…and I brought something with me into 2021!

I can’t believe I managed to get to the end of the first month of the year without publishing anything here.  It wasn’t for the lack of ideas (they’re always flowing like the finest cheap wine in my brain), it was moreso the wanting to kick off the year with the perfect training video.  I will probably be searching for the next ten years to find something that fits the very definition of “perfect,” since I’m convinced there is nothing more perfect than any of the Wendy’s offerings (remember Hot Drinks, Cold Drinks, and Grill Skills?), as well as Jewel’s Customers FIRST method of training.  Amazingly, those kicked off 2020, and it should have been the perfect year based on those gems of customer service training alone.

2020 was a year of customer service gold, and I hope I can capture the same feel for 2021.

All of that said…

The Celebrity Touch

Of all the training videos I covered in 2020, only one of them featured an actual celebrity.  No, it wasn’t Wendy’s answer to Michael Jackson, Paula Abdul, or Jewel’s Own Joan (she’s a celebrity for a totally different reason).  If you guessed Ames’ Fitting Room Grandma Rapper was it…ummmm, no.

The only training video to feature a celebrity was Dave Thomas, who ordered an ol-fayshioned hamburger while new hires learned the four-point press on the grill.

Today’s video ventures back into the world of fast food, and features an even bigger celebrity than Dave Thomas!  This is gonna be a good one!

And no, Jewel’s Own Joan doesn’t have a sister.

Why do you think she’s famous?

The year is 1991, we’re new hires at McDonald’s, and NBA star Michael Jordan is teaching us to “do whatever it takes!” in this seemingly obligatory cameo usually given to “compensated endorsers.”  I know Jordan was a spokesperson for McDonald’s at the time, so maybe this was part of his contract?

One of those steps to “doing whatever it takes” better not mention taking the first job offered to you.  Someone would be in a lot of trouble.

Satisfy The Customer!

Michael Jordan pops up after some incredible early 1990s graphics, wearing some incredibl…y early 90s shirt, to explain to us what we, the new hires, are about to learn from the video we’re watching.  The aim, he says, is to “satisfy the customers” by doing “whatever it takes!”

He somehow relates playing basketball to serving French fries and Quarter Pounders.  But he has a point – paying customers are there to see him and the Bulls play “more than just a basketball game.”  Likewise, McDonald’s customers want more than just quick service, they want to be treated “like a guest in your home.”

My home does not smell like French fries and have a broken McFlurry Machine, Air Jordan, but go on.

His Airness informs us that the training we’re about to watch shows the different between Good Service and Great Personalized Service, which is what we all want from our local McDonald’s employees.

I’m fine with Good Service at this point, and more concerned with my order being correct.  But go on, McDonald’s Video, I’m intrigued.

“Doing Whatever It Takes!”

…with 90s graphics!

The video is supposed to be a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of a training video (the training video is the training video, if that makes sense), complete with actors posing as employees being filmed providing customer service to other actors, depicting customers.

The actor taking the food order completes his small but very important scene (no small parts and such, right?), but the director has called “cut!” due to the employee saying “Hi, how can I help you?” instead of the required “Welcome to McDonald’s” that he believes should be said.

The store’s Manager, Barb, steps in to the halted production to explain to the director the actor’s concerns with saying the same thing again and again.  She tells the director that she tells her own employees to “say what comes natural” with a warm, sincere smile.

The Director, Dave, is not used to the actors changing their lines, but the Manager Barb was the same way, very “by the book,” but she noticed that her employees looked stiff in their approach, (reminds me of that one Hardee’s employee) so she asked her staff to lighten up their approach – ad lib, Barb instructs them  The result was positive, and the guests responded well to this change.

This approach is filmed, and while it is better, Barb feels the actor playing the customer needs to act “a little less polite.”  So the director runs with this approach, and while the customer does a good job, the actor taking his order…not so much.  So they try again, with the employee using a gentle approach.  The result is the customer actor softening up slightly.  And that’s a take!

In the next scene, Customer Actor #2 is supposed to be reluctant to ask for a special request (a tomato slice) on her Big Mac, but the Employee Actor doesn’t bat an eyelash at the request, and Customer Actor #2 is satisfied.  Director Dave is hesitant about this, but the GM reassures him that this needs to be seen in the video, as this is part of “doing whatever it takes!”

During a break in filming, the Employee Actor, Jim, speaking with Actual Employee Lisa, talks about the process of acting the part versus living the part – the actor gets multiple takes to “get it right,” while the employee has one “take” at getting it right.  Lisa never really thought of it that way, and it reinforces the importance of nailing the training method and providing the best customer service…

Doing whatever it takes!

Yeah, I know.

Filming resumes, with Jean as the next customer actor, and Lou as the employee actor, and an extra getting instructions from Director Dave.  In this scenario, Lou brings out a special order from the grill to Jean, and then proceeds to clear a tray off a table that the extra has just left.  An alternate take is done based on Manager Barb and Employee Lisa’s suggestion, with Actor Employee Lou asking the customer at the next table if he can take his empty tray, and engages him in conversation.  Director Dave likes the scene, but Barb informs him that it isn’t a scenario that happens often.

Lisa then talks about how the grill team are the “real stars,” and that without their teamwork and quick response, the customer service team would never be able to get the orders out quickly.

And then there’s the Drive Thru…

A customer drops his change at the Drive Thru window, and when he responds negatively about having to get out of his car to retrieve the dropped coins, the cheerful employee says that someone else will come get the change later.  She gets him his change again (this time, he doesn’t go all butterfingers and drop it), and the customer is very satisfied.  The Employee Actor working that scenario says she did what felt natural to her, and this satisfies Manager Barb and Actual Employee Lisa.

And now, it is time to film the final scene for the training video…The Perfect Service Scene!

Can Employee Actor do it?  Can she serve the customer perfectly…whatever it takes?  Will she get the order correct?  Will the mom and her two children get the desired Great Personalized Service Michael Jordan glossed over?

Yes! They do get the best service possible!  And that’s, as they say in filmmaking, a wrap!

But not before we hear a word or two from a head honcho!

Ed Rensi, McDonald’s U.S.A.’s President, arrives at the end to recap that last scene.  He says there is always a way to “improve the script.”  Employees are more than just “six steps and a smile,” and have the power to make things better, with A-plus service, with a goal of letting customers – the real customers – know the employees really care about them.

Before viewing that last scene again, be sure to…

…and then watch the scene again!

Customer satisfaction at its finest. That’s “doing whatever it takes!”

“Doing Whatever It Takes!”: The Ad Campaign!

McDonald’s promoted the “Doing Whatever It Takes!” customer service model beginning in 1991, with a “documentary”-style commercial to promote it.

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Employees also wore pins that sported the slogan…

Image: eBay
Image: eBay

I don’t really remember this phase of McDonald’s marketing, and gather that it started in 1991, and probably continued into the early 1990s.  Complete with 90s graphics, uniforms, and those sweet Midwestern accents (which really add to the hospitality charm), I’ve officially bought training videos into 2021.

Heck, I even bought Michael Jordan along for a two-minute cameo.  Even the training videos I showcased in 2020 couldn’t accomplish that!

Would you like to see it all played out, in a way that words don’t always do justice?

Why, watch the video, and see the moment where the training video is the training video!

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We’ve Only Just Begun…

As we wrap up the first training video article of 2021 (with the promise of more to come!), I have one very important request, something you need to do that ties all of this nostalgia up nicely.

Yeah!  Nostalgic reminders at their finest!

“Be kind” about it.  Rewinding prolongs the longevity of videocassettes, and we’ve got plenty of people to train…whatever it takes!

I had to throw that in one more time!

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