You may have heard that McDonald’s announced strong quarterly results yesterday. The quick-service restaurant chain reported a five per cent increase in global same-store sales and the second quarter in a row of same-store sales growth in the US after seven quarters of declines.

What’s remarkable (or perhaps not) about this tale of corporate turnaround is that no one, including the corporation’s CEO, is attributing it to any changes in traditional marketing. Virtually no mention is made of campaigns, advertising, content, social media, promotion or the like. This success story is all about customer experience — of changes not to messaging but to the product and service experience offered to consumers at each touchpoint.

The primary change driving McDonald’s recent success is the chain’s decision to offer all-day breakfast. But on the earnings call, CEO Steve Easterbrook also called out CX improvements such as a new streamlined menu, improved order accuracy, investments in food quality and ingredients, and menu simplification. McDonald’s implemented many changes this past year, including how Quarter Pounders are made to improve flavour, removing sandwiches from its menu to speed ordering and customer service, replacing margarine with real butter on its breakfast sandwiches, and increasing hourly wages and adding benefits to address concerns over workers’ compensation.

Certainly, marketing and promotion played a part in getting the word out about these changes — but whether you read about McDonald’s turnaround on CNBC’s mad Money, Fortune or Business Insider, you will not find the words “marketing,” “advertising” or “content” in these articles. The thorough Business Insider review of McDonald’s 2015 actions mentions a single promotion among the 19 changes McDonald’s made in 2015: the launch of the McPick 2 deal.

Gartner has noted that “Customer Experience Is the New Competitive Battlefield” for marketers. McDonald’s just demonstrated how battles are won (and customer experience ROI is delivered) in the war for consumer attention, consideration and preference.

This article is reprinted with permission of Gartner

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