original article came more than fifteen years ago. Long enough
that while I know it still exists, I won’t link to it. Instead…
got me thinking. And rereading the original essay has me thinking
again, but this time about what has changed, what hasn’t changed,
and more to the general ideas that are yet to come, what is happening
in the world today.
ideas we need to have in place before we begin wandering about.
original essay was posted in 2005, and then
brought back in 2017. It was based on an article that discussed
how McDonald’s was beginning to research the use of centralized
centers for taking drive-thru orders. Yup, hot fries to go call
– A couple of cheeseburgers was the order. I got one cheeseburger.
I also got a hamburger bun, with cheese and all the fixings (ketchup
and onion and such), but no burger.
where the two of these (and more) collide…
first thoughts I explored when it came about based on the idea
of having an office in Oklahoma taking orders for Oregon, Vermont
and Arizona. Those looked at the money involved, the possibility
of errors being made, and general responsibility. An interesting
trick that I kind of hinted at, but honestly didn’t develop, was
would you like to be a cashier, manager, or working one of the
prep stations, and have customer after customer complaining about
orders? One claims they said no onions, another wanted light ice,
and the hits keep coming. But as a manager, you don’t know where
the mistakes are. The orders you see displayer are being filled
accurately. This isn’t someone that needs to be shown how to have
a heavier hand when putting salt on the fries or another that
needs to know to include napkins and a straw in the bag. It’s
the call center not passing along the exact details.
never worked in a true fast-food establishment. But friends of
mine have, and I have heard plenty of stories. And one of the
funny things is how special the drive-thru can be. You learn a
lot about people, and in particular, what motivates them. Person
eating in the restaurant may come to the counter for salt, or
to point out that they ordered a chocolate shake and not strawberry.
At the drive-thru—and I can verify this because I didn’t have
the time or the motivation to go back and complain about me burgerless
burger—many times people take it and run.
even made fun of some aspects of the whole thing, but the reality
was pretty simple. And here it is…
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 said.”
quoted the article—ok, fine, here it is, from
USA Today—and I think I missed a
chance to point at something quite important, even when I did
in fact point it out.
don’t care. They definitely don’t care when everything is right.
And, they usually have a decent amount of flexibility when things
go wrong. But you really need to bump into a jerk, or tremendously
mess up to see a major issue develop out of a small thing.
head to the beach.
thirty years ago, I was working front desk and reservations at
a seasonal hotel. The basic run of dates the property was open
spanned from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Opened a few weeks ahead
of that, and closed a few weeks after, but usually a chunk of
the property was unavailable because room demand didn’t exist
outside of those magical oceanside summer season dates.
day, a woman came back to the desk after checking in and visiting
her room. She was quite upset. Nothing was what she had expected
or requested. There was no refrigerator in the room. There was
no television. And she continued. She insisted she had double-checked
and was told she would have an oceanside room, with a television
and a refrigerator. When I asked if she recalled the person she
spoke with, she claimed it was a very rude young girl. She said
she’d never forget how poorly the girl had treated her, but she
didn’t know the name.
then, computers weren’t as common as they are today. And, being
seasonal, the first few weeks of business were more taking reservations
with honestly no one staying in the rooms yet.
those thoughts and you wind up with reservation sheets that contained
a ton of notes, along with staff working on multiple things. I
had been trained, with it repeated several times, to note everything
on the form so that all of us had any and all details we might
the woman left the counter, my manager came out to me. She handed
me a reservation form.
might make you smile,” she said.
took it from her and looked at it. It was in my handwriting. The
woman had spoken to me. When I flipped the form over, on the back
were some special notes.
informed that no oceanside rooms have a refrigerator. Told only
rooms with fridges are street-facing units that are like suites,
but are one room with multiple beds mainly used by families
with kids. Stressed that no rooms have phones or televisions.
Woman insisted oceanside was what she wanted above all else,
and she confirmed she understood that meant no television or
I feel better? Yes. Selfishly, I can admit I did. Did the woman?
Well… probably not, but she was friendly during the remainder
of her stay. And I learned an interesting lesson that my manager
later summer up like this: Some people are content living their
life angry and wrong, often while insisting they’re right.
have not seen a massive wave of independently owned, secluded,
providing efforts for multiple locations in a variety of states
support offices taking over the fast-food industry. Hasn’t happened.
the lessons I learned on the beach… the comments friends of mine
have made… the experiences I have had as a customer… do confirm
that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
are convinced that we are seeing a change of days right now. That
business will never be the same. And I don’t think that’s true.
from debits cards to phone apps, we have seen plenty of changes
come sweeping in. Change is a constant. Of course, nothing will
be the same. Nothing is ever the same.
people, by and large, don’t change. They conform. They adapt.
And… most importantly to our questions about hot fries to go call
centers… when the order is correct, they take their order and
it matter where the order was taken if the bag has all the right
contents and the fries are hot? You know, it might not.