In a recent webcast for executives and franchise owners, the fast-food giant said one out of every five customer complaints is about the service, and that ratio is climbing.
The webcast said "rude or unprofessional employees," are the restaurant chain's No. 1 complaint and one of the slides in the presentation said "Service is broken," The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The new focus on service coincides with the appointment of global chief restaurant officer Jeff Stratton to the post of president of McDonald's USA. It also follows two consecutive quarters in which McDonald's fell short of its profit expectations.
McDonald's said the issue was critical, pointing out that a National Restaurant Association survey found that customers rank friendly service as nearly as important as dollar value.
In another industry study, the annual Drive-Thru Study done by QSR Magazine, McDonald's was listed as second from the bottom in the "very friendly" category, the Journal said.
A company spokeswoman said the pursuit of friendlier service was ongoing. "McDonald's USA and our franchisees are absolutely committed to doing even more to consistently deliver a great restaurant experience for every customer at every visit," she said, while declining to comment directly on the webcast.
But a franchisee said, "The new leadership has decided to focus on customer satisfaction as a real driver for us to build the brand and build sales. So for us to maximize the potential that's out there, we've got to be the leader in guest satisfaction," the franchisee told the Journal.