was looking around the internet this evening, and I came across
article posted by USA Today. It’s
very short, go ahead and take a look.
the way I read the information in this article, this situation
is entirely possible – One day, I’m driving around in Warwick,
Rhode Island. I get a craving for fries, an apple pie, and a chocolate
shake. I pull off the road at a McDonald’s and head around to
the drive-thru window. When I get there, a pleasant voice welcomes
me and asks for my order… but the source of the voice could be
in Massachusetts… or in Ohio… or in Oregon.
got problems with this.
got a lot of problems with this.
start, let’s check out this paragraph from the article: “Call
center professionals with ‘very strong communication skills’ could
help boost order accuracy and ultimately speed up the time it
takes customers to get in and out of the drive-thrus, the company
I don’t see how that can be true in several ways. And that leads
to some of my first problems…
number one ~ If accuracy was the only reason to make
this change, McDonald’s wouldn’t even be thinking about it. As
a corporation (and depending on your position), they have an extensive
training program. If accuracy was the only reason for doing this,
they would just investigate their training program. No, this is
partly about money. See, by using a single call center, they can
have one person take orders for several restaurants. I mean… it
would be really dumb to have a single person in Montana at a computer
replace a single person in California on a window. Nope. Wouldn’t
do that. Instead, I think it’s more likely that multiple stores
would, in a way, subscribe for the help from a single call center.
So, twenty stores might pay a fee to a center that employees five,
six or seven people per shift. The fee the store pays would be
less than what they pay a staff member to work on the window,
so they save money. But, the call center makes money by offering
the service to several locations. And that does make a bit of
sense. However, exactly how is a person, taking orders for five
restaurants, going to able to serve me more accurately and faster?
Even if they do have some fool-proof technology in place to make
sure that the orders are delivered properly (and we have all seen
that only a gigantic fool believes a system is absolutely fool-proof)...
there is no way that a person handling orders for two or three
stores can clear out the line more quickly. The staff serving
the food is still moving at the same pace… didn’t see anything
in the article about the food being prepared faster. I’m not even
going to explore the idea of going from one order and sending
it to taking the next… meaning that not only could the person
taking the order be in another state, but I might be waiting in
line behind someone in another state because that call center
professional is handling the order of a person at a different
restaurant that arrived at their drive-thru moments before I arrived
number two ~ Are they saying their staff members right
now don’t have very strong communication skills? Because I’d be
ticked if I worked at one. Oh sure, I might be happy I didn’t
have to wear the headset and take the orders. But I’d just have
something else to do. It’s not like they’re sending me home and
paying me for watching television. So, is that what they’re saying?
that’s just two problems that come to mind from that passage of
the article. There are other problems that this concept creates
number three ~ When I get to the second window, if there
was a mistake and I complain then the manager and co-workers are
aware of it. In essence… management knows, and employees get informed.
I’m not saying they should or shouldn’t notice, or that they should
or shouldn’t care. There could be extenuating circumstances where
they will just take care of my complaint and then consider it
a dead issue... really, there could be. What I am saying though
is that a manager might notice if the same person is making repeated
errors when assigned to the drive-thru. That means that they could
conceivably talk to a person and correct them. But, when the call
center transmits the order, that option is pretty much removed.
Stretching the wording of this example, I guess you could say
that the employee never faces the accuser. How does a store manager
address that? Complain to the call center?
number four ~ There are times when I pull up to the menu
and can’t get the attention of the employee twenty feet away from
me that watched me drive around and can see me through the window.
Someone please tell me how a person sitting in a chair two thousand
miles away will be less likely to ignore me? Or… to be a bit less
sarcastic… the more elements you add to a situation, the more
that can go wrong. So when you introduce more technology into
the equation (having to send the messages long distance) or remove
some of the safe-guards (sight-lines to the drive-thru window
in case the other announcement devices don’t work when a person
pulls up), I think you increase the opportunity that mistakes
or setbacks will occur.
there are other problems… and yet already with these four I’ve
probably given the issue more time then it deserves. The reality
is… service is the key and nothing else… to which, cost is the
answer. McDonald’s and other fast food places have reached the
point where it isn’t that hard to create a big bill for a family.
I know they have their value items and special meals, and those
are fine. But a family of four can race through twenty-dollars
at one of these establishments without a problem. The reason fast
food locations saw their sales drop was… and I’m not alone in
feeling this way… that I would rather take thirty or forty dollars
and get a better, healthier meal than spend twenty on fast food.
the drive-thru can be a problem and it can be annoying at times.
I’m not saying it isn’t an issue to be addressed. While it may
be something to look at for improvement though, I think they’re
giving it a bit too much attention. I would rather have a manager
give me a coupon saying “we’re sorry for the delay, here’s a free
sandwich for you on your next visit” then find out that the order
was processed incorrectly from New Mexico and hear excuses.