“Stay Within Reason, Go Beyond The Expected.” (Episode 96)

“Stay Within Reason, Go Beyond The Expected.” (Episode 96)

Interview with Tina Chao, Chief Marketing and Digital Customer Experience Officer, at McDonald’s Hong Kong.

Here is a simple rule for how to approach creativity towards your customers: “Stay Within Reason, Go Beyond The Expected.”

It is the strategy that helped McDonald’s Hong Kong go from having 50,000 users of their app to, in one and a half months, having more than 1 million!

I learned about this amazing success from Tina Chao, Chief Marketing and Digital Customer Experience Officer, at McDonald’s Hong Kong.

When Tina came into her role she realised that the McDonald’s app was ok, but people were not using it. The reason for using it was not clear enough for the customers.

Unless you aim to build a “super-app” then an app has to have a clear and simple reason for why people should open it. For McDonald’s, it became “Value Monday”.

Every Monday the company would upload 200 HKD worth of coupons to be used the following week. Suddenly the reason for using the app became clear: “Every Monday I get good deals from McDonald’s.”

Next came the focus on “convenience”.

The old version had a pre-order function, but you had to scan a QR code in the restaurant before you could order (!) which made no sense. In the new version of the app you could order before coming to the restaurant.

Finally, they made sure that all major e-wallets work in the app (they have integrated 10 different e-wallet solutions in the app, and any promotions for McDonald’s that a bank runs are automatically integrated into the app.)

Today 80% of all payments at McDonald’s Hong Kong are cashless.

Tina talks about the focus on being “simple, convenient and relevant.” and to delight the customer with some surprises and excitement, but without being confusing or making the customer feel that they do not understand what’s going on.

She sums it up brilliantly in the Chinese saying 情理之中, 意料之外 which can be translated into “Stay Within Reason, Go Beyond The Expected.”

That could be the slogan of creativity towards customers: “Stay Within Reason,

Go Beyond The Expected.”

Customers want to be surprised but not confused. They want new improvements but not at the cost of becoming lost.

The trick is to balance the expectedness of reason with the unexpectedness of surprise.

I am reminded of the famous quote from Einstein: “Make everything as simple as possible – but not simpler.” Based on my discussion with Tina I want to rewrite the quote to: “Make everything as expected as desirable – but not more expected.”

Make things more expected than people want and it’s boring.

No-one likes boring.

But make things more unexpected than people want and it’s just weird.

Let’s take an extreme example: The music festival Coachella

People will come up with interesting clothes to wear, come ready to dance and have fun and expect a happy party.

Imagine coming to Coachella and seeing they turned it into an HR Conference… It would be unexpected, but not within reason for what Coachella is all about.

With their app McDonald’s Hong Kong created an app that people knew how to use and why – get good deals every Monday, and pay for the meals you order.

It makes sense for the users. It’s within reason.

And then McDonald’s sprinkles some unexpectedness into the mix with fun promotions, surprising deals and unexpected promotions.

It’s a strategy that clearly has worked for McDonald’s Hong Kong. They have one of the highest app usage in the world of any McDonald’s and today the app has been downloaded 4 (!) million times, which is mind-blowing considering that Hong Kong has less than 7,5 million inhabitants …

So be inspired by the McDonald’s Hong Kong strategy: Stay Within Reason, and Go Beyond The Expected.

How could you stay within Reason and go beyond the expected with what you are offering to your customers? I would love to hear.

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