Getting More Tale #547: The Redemption of the Worst McDonalds Ever
The sequel to #536: Worst. McDonalds. EVER.
I’ve been visiting the “worst McDonalds ever” regularly in the past few weeks. All McDonalds stores have been renovated since the 2006 disaster area we encountered in the last installment. They’ve made a number of changes to their menu and how you order.
Where a typical McDonalds used to have a huge counter full of cash registers to order, now they have just one. This is because they have switched over to an automated ordering/paying system using touch-screen kiosks. You might think that removing the human element is a bad thing. When it was first rolled out, it seemed things got slower. Today is another story.
Using the former “worst McDonalds ever” as an example, service is now much faster and accurate. You don’t have to get in line. Just walk in and stroll up to a kiosk. Follow the instructions on screen and touch what you want to order. You can do it as a combo, and you can change sizes quite easily. Making modifications is easy peasy. The kiosk then reviews your order and asks you to confirm it. Once this is done, you can either pay by debit or credit card right at the kiosk, or go to the cash register to pay.
The kiosk spits out your receipt with a number. That number then appears on a big screen that says “now serving”. Your number climbs to the top when your order is ready. Usually this happens quickly.
It used to be the case that we didn’t like to get McDonalds “to go” because by the time you get back, the fries are cold. Everybody knows McDonalds fries are best when they are piping hot. Cold McDonalds fries just don’t cut it. I am pleased to report that I can go to the former “worst McDonalds ever” and get back to the office in time with hot fries. My turnaround time is usually 15-20 minutes from door to door. Additionally, my order has been right every time. It seems the new kiosk system has cut down on human error.
This is all just personal experience; I have been to a few of the new McDonalds and only had a bad experience once, in Ottawa, when the new system was first introduced. That McDonalds was drowning in confusion and upset customers, including one who claimed this was the “worst McDonalds ever”. That first time aside, food has been fast and accurate since.
What does this mean in terms of general retail? Automated checkout is becoming more and more common. As long as the speed and quality remain in good standing, this trend will continue. It will probably not impact the music business very much. Most people who go shopping in a music store go there partly because there are humans to interact with. As long as music stores exist, so will manual checkouts. Of course, many folks (myself included) buy a huge chunk of their music from online retailers. However when we do visit a music store, we want a flesh and blood human being there.
Good for McDonalds for improving their service. I think the music business will continue on its own path.