US/INDIA – American fast-food chain company McDonald’s has promoted Manu Steijaert to the newly created role of executive vice president and global chief customer officer, effective Aug. 1. 

 Mr. Steijaert will report to McDonald’s President and chief executive officer Chris Kempczinski and will lead McDonald’s new customer experience team. 

The team combines several existing teams responsible for end-to-end customer experience — data analytics, digital customer engagement, global marketing, global restaurant development, and restaurant solutions. 

Mr. Steijaert- the son of a former McDonald’s franchisee – brings to his new role more than 20 years of experience in the McDonald’s system.  

After working in several positions within the McDonald’s system in Belgium and the Netherlands, he became vice president of operations in France, where he successfully integrated service and production platform innovations. 

He also helped to develop the “Experience of the Future” program, which eventually was implemented at McDonald’s restaurants worldwide.  

In 2019, he was named managing director of the Netherlands business before rising to vice president of international operated markets in 2019, supporting country leadership teams of 12 regions. 

“The formation of the customer experience team strengthens McDonald’s ability to lead the industry in anticipating and delivering on customer needs at every part of the brand journey, which increasingly extends beyond the walls of the physical restaurant through digital, delivery and drive-thru,” Mr. Kempczinski said.  

“As customer needs continue to evolve, we will create a frictionless brand experience across all our service channels using the insights generated from our increasingly important digital platforms. Manu’s deep understanding of the needs of our customers and his rich perspectives from multiple markets will be invaluable in leading this new team.” 

McDonald’s expands in India  

Meanwhile, Westlife Development, the operator of McDonald’s in India plans to expand its presence across the country through malls, standalone stores on high streets, and drive-throughs. 

The master franchisee of McDonald’s restaurants for western and southern India is optimistic of business returning to pre-pandemic levels and now plans to open 25-30 stores every year to expand its presence across the country. 

“Drive-thru has become a big enabler for us as consumers are preferring this format of food takeaway more than ever before. The use-case for drive-thru has also evolved owing to increased road travel and hence, we will focus on this format a little more going forward,” said Sanjay Soni, Senior Vice President – Development & Supply Chain at Westlife Development Ltd 

Currently, Westlife Development operates over 300 McDonald’s stores in 42 cities of western and southern India. Its business was one of the badly hurt during the pandemic which saw consumers stay at home and restaurant dining drop to almost zero.  

The firm notes that it has already witnessed revenue from convenience channels which comprises delivery, on-the-go, and drive returning to pre-COVID levels as the Indian economy recovers from its worst wave of the pandemic.  

The company expects business to back to pre-Covid levels in the coming quarters, prompting the plan to open more stores across the country.  

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