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The 7 - Random - McDonald's Drive-Thrus & Call Centers.
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Mayhem
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#1 Posted on 11.3.05 1458.09
Reposted on: 11.3.12 1459.02

Hey, maybe they'll get the orders right ...

    Originally posted by CNN.com
    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - McDonald's Corp. wants to outsource your neighborhood drive-thru.

    The world's largest fast-food chain said on Thursday it is looking into using remote call centers to take customer orders in an effort to improve service at its drive-thrus.

    "If you're in L.A.... and you hear a person with a North Dakota accent taking your order, you'll know what we're up to," McDonald's Chief Executive Jim Skinner told investors during a presentation at the Bear Stearns Retail, Restaurants & Apparel Conference in New York.

    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 said.

    Revamping its drive-thrus is one of the latest initiatives in McDonald's more than two-year-long effort to revitalize sales. The company's flagship U.S. business has benefited in the last year from the introduction of healthier menu items like entree-sized salads and apple slices, later hours, and cashless payments.


http://money.cnn.com/2005/03/10/news/fortune500/mcdonalds.reut/index.htm?cnn=yes

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thecubsfan
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#2 Posted on 11.3.05 1544.10
Reposted on: 11.3.12 1558.07
So weird. Like the order's going to come up significantly faster on the kitchen's computer because the person's sitting in a call center rather than standing by the drive thru window.

I'd think this was a way to move one job for a high min wage state to a state with a cheaper workforce (and maybe conslidate the workforce a bit; after 9PM, you could have the same person maning three different McDonalds if it's slow enough), but the cost to set a system up like this and train people would seem to put a huge dent into savings.

The numbers must look a lot nicer on their spreadsheet.

(edited by thecubsfan on 11.3.05 1544)
too-old-now
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#3 Posted on 11.3.05 1552.22
Reposted on: 11.3.12 1558.35
Cubsfan, my thoughts exactly on shifting to a less expensive workforce. I'm sure they also figure to save more on product cost if their accuracy improves materially, there'll be less waste from making the burgers wrong.

Compared to the Burger King drive thru - where the order is verified on screen in front of you, McDonalds is way way behind.

Messing up on orders is a sure way to lose any chance of repeat customers.



CRZ
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#4 Posted on 11.3.05 1554.08
Reposted on: 11.3.12 1558.38
    Originally posted by too-old-now
    Compared to the Burger King drive thru - where the order is verified on screen in front of you, McDonalds is way way behind.
Lots of McDonald's have these (at least in California and Minnesota)
XPacArmy
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#5 Posted on 11.3.05 1735.08
Reposted on: 11.3.12 1735.15
    Originally posted by CRZ
      Originally posted by too-old-now
      Compared to the Burger King drive thru - where the order is verified on screen in front of you, McDonalds is way way behind.
    Lots of McDonald's have these (at least in California and Minnesota)


And in Virginia
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#6 Posted on 11.3.05 1845.44
Reposted on: 11.3.12 1851.34
If you have a person onsite taking orders, basically all they can stuff up is the order. If you have an offsite call centre, they can still stuff up the order, but now they can stuff up the store it goes to as well, right?
I'm also assuming they aren't going to go for the one drive through, one operator model, so what you might make up for in getting orders right using people with "very strong communication skills", you probably lose in time taken to take the order.
It seems like alot of expense for little, if any, gain. As Cubby said, them numbers sure must look purty.
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#7 Posted on 11.3.05 2000.41
Reposted on: 11.3.12 2001.16
    Originally posted by thecubsfan
    I'd think this was a way to move one job for a high min wage state to a state with a cheaper workforce (and maybe conslidate the workforce a bit; after 9PM, you could have the same person maning three different McDonalds if it's slow enough), but the cost to set a system up like this and train people would seem to put a huge dent into savings


Not really. 1st, Most Mickey's are already connected to McDonald's big and dirty IP system for accounting purposes. They do all their ordering via this system and low level of inventory trigger automatic ordering. So they're online already. So, capital investment-wise, they add VOIP to each McD's, about 50 a router and wire the ordering computer into the intranet as well.

Now they hire and train a call center. Basically, they can do this anywhere they have internet access and both a cheap real estate market and a cheap labor pool. In fact, they could have people sitting at home, doing this. So, let's just say they have 50,000 McDonalds - I have no idea, but let's just say. They put a rotating ring down on the system, so the next free agent gets the call from the remote. They take the order, it goes into the system at the local establismsnt and they go back into the line.

Think of it: Yes, these people will probably make a little more than the average order-taker at a McD's, but if they had 50,000 stores online, they might be able to get away with 10,000 ordertakers, or less. That is a monster savings with a minimal capital investment.
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#8 Posted on 11.3.05 2232.44
Reposted on: 11.3.12 2233.25
And now for something completely different...

Working in a McDonald's call center would be kinda boring, wouldn't you think? At least people who actually work at McDonald's restaurants can make the food, handle the money, deal with customers face to face, and so on. (Whether or not that's actually an improvement from a call center, I'll leave to the opinion of whomever's reading this.)
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#9 Posted on 12.3.05 0055.55
Reposted on: 12.3.12 0056.21
Working in *any* call center is VERY boring. Having had lots of experience in them, I can see where they could really save some money. However, I just don't think that this is a very good solution. There's too many things that could go wrong at your average McDonalds that could be taken care of by on-site staff, but not by a remote operator.

-Jag
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#10 Posted on 12.3.05 0844.57
Reposted on: 12.3.12 0847.13
This is going to be cheaper and more accurate than the current method. Current methods seem to use radio technology, where this will involve ISDN lines for a clearer, more accurate order.

Incidentally, this probably is also a respone to proposed increases in the minimum wage laws.
Guru Zim
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#11 Posted on 12.3.05 1507.22
Reposted on: 12.3.12 1514.25
The main point that I didn't see addressed in the above posts was order taking fraud.

If you've ever been to a drive through with a sign that says "If you are asked to pay a different amount than the above total, please call (xxx) xxx-xxxx" then you may have an idea what this is about.

Basically, people ring up an order a few dollars cheaper than what you bought, or they charge you the non-combo rate and then ring in the combo rate. As long as they take out the right amount of money from the till (and the customer doesn't notice) then they make a few extra $$ per hour.

By separating the order taker from the cashier function, you eliminate the possibility of this scam.

Also, on the call center front... You can have standardized greetings. This is where a voice file is played to start the conversation. It could be a jaunty jingle, a 20 second TV commercial, or just a really good sales pitch for the item. It's probably going to be a multi-media ad, though, assuming they follow the route of every other business that has captive audience time (ATM's, movie theaters, etc).

Call centers are all about stats. This is what I do for a living, pretty much - as the DBA and lead developer for a call center. They will track order taking time, etc. down to a level you won't believe.

In time, this remote feature will be replaced with speech recognition with the option of an operator (possibly for a fee). Once the customer is culturally OK with not speaking with the person who is making their food, it opens up a lot of options.

Oh, by the way, phone ahead if you know you are going to be at the McDonald's in a bit. Then just pop in and pick it up. You can do your ATM or Credit card over the phone if you do it that way.

If they aren't planning all of this with this move (along with shafting the minimum wage laws in CA, etc) I'll be really surprised.
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#12 Posted on 12.3.05 1803.54
Reposted on: 12.3.12 1804.11
I fail to see the way it's gonna be faster, since the order will have to be relayed from the drivethru menu, to a call center, then typed in and sent back to the correct restaurant. Sounds hokey to me.

As long as I can still get my Dbl. Qtr. Pounder, I'm good.
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#13 Posted on 12.3.05 2011.10
Reposted on: 12.3.12 2013.56
Have you used a phone in the last 50 years or so? When was the last time talking on the phone was slower than taking through a drive through menu?
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#14 Posted on 12.3.05 2153.44
Reposted on: 12.3.12 2157.15
    Originally posted by Guru Zim
    Have you used a phone in the last 50 years or so? When was the last time talking on the phone was slower than taking through a drive through menu?


Touche...

but it still sounds hokey to me. Why incorporate someone offsite...when you can talk to the fry jockey with the headset in the building. And I'm not seeing where it would cut down in mistakes..maybe it's just above my head.
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#15 Posted on 13.3.05 1156.44
Reposted on: 13.3.12 1158.26
    Originally posted by Packman V2
    Why incorporate someone offsite...when you can talk to the fry jockey with the headset in the building. And I'm not seeing where it would cut down in mistakes..maybe it's just above my head.
Rare is it in a fast-food drive through that the person taking the order of the customer at the speaker/intercom is tasked only to take orders. Far more often, the person who takes the order is also taking the money, handing out the order, and is many cases, putting the order together. Any time a company can reduce the number of tasks necessary for positions such as these, it can only help. That said, think about how often your order is wrong - and the receipt provided to you in your bag is correct. It's not just the taking of the order.

Also, I would bet that the call-center order-taker will hear your words far better than the person in drive through does, since they will probably have a better headset, no fryers beeping a few feet away, and no drinks to dole out to others while they are listening to your order.
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#16 Posted on 13.3.05 1336.12
Reposted on: 13.3.12 1344.59
If this means mass layoffs, I can't find it in my heart to embrace it. If they want to cut back, they ought to cut back on advertising. The McDonalds arches are the most recognized symbol in the world, yet I still hear 6 to 7 annoying "I'm Loving It" spots on my local radio station.

And i'm sure it's just a matter of time before North Dakota becomes New Dehli.
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#17 Posted on 13.3.05 1531.39
Reposted on: 13.3.12 1531.39
As a former Mcd's store manager I have some info for you guys.
There is around 30,000 Mcd's in the world. About half are in US and Canada the other half are in other (mainly NATO and other US military base areas) countries. Japan has around 1,000 Mcd's and has a different menu. So a call center would only be a US and Canada call center not an England call center.
About half of customer complaints are caused by the customer. That is why most fast food restaurants use the visual screen. It cuts down on mistakes on both parts and makes "grifting" harder. Hell, my old store has them and the owner only owns 3 marginal stores.
This idea will almost certainly start in Chicago. Chicago has or at least had by far the highest store to customer ratio in the organization. Also the corporate office is there. I see a beta test around Chicago then moving to some place with a low minimum wage and cheap land.
For the corporate stores it will work pretty good. Setting prices by region would be fairly easy. For the 60% of owner operators (especially in the smaller towns) this will be a nightmare to set up.
Mike Zeidler
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#18 Posted on 13.3.05 1950.20
Reposted on: 13.3.12 1952.20
I could have sworn this was already in place in St. louis and other select markets.

Guess it was Colorado Springs, but I think they're handling St. Louis' orders as well.


(edited for more info.)
(edited by Zundian on 13.3.05 1959)



(edited by Zundian on 13.3.05 2000)
thefraserman
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#19 Posted on 13.3.05 2246.15
Reposted on: 13.3.12 2251.09
They've got sort of a call center type operation going here in BC Canada for Pizza Hut.

No matter where you are, you dial 310-1010 and there's a call center that takes your order and it relays it to the nearest restaurant, and then gets delivered.

Pretty nifty.
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#20 Posted on 14.3.05 0831.13
Reposted on: 14.3.12 0836.46
I think that another reason that McDonalds is doing this, along with reducing costs and improving efficiency like other people were saying, it also gives the corporation one more thing to sell to the franchises. McDonalds makes it's big money by selling things like pre-made patties and McD's cups and hamburger wrappers to the individual franchises. Now, they'll be able to charge for the use of thier order service call centers. The fee will be less for the francise owners than paying for local high-school teenagers and senior citizens to take your order.
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