Tobold's Blog
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Touch screen McDonald's

I ate at McDonald's today, something that doesn't happen all that often. So I was surprised how far technology had come in that place. They had touch screens there now, where I could place my order, pay with a credit card, get a receipt, and go with that receipt to the counter, where somebody was already filling my tray with my order. That went a lot faster than the usual dialogue with the person at the counter, especially when the restaurant is crowded and loud. Good idea!
They're becoming much more common in parts of the US. They can slow things down, especially if you're in line behind a first-time user. But overall they're a great way of circumventing the language barrier that is cropping up in certain areas. It's pretty hard to order a chicken sandwich on a plain white bun with no tomato and extra mayo if the person behind the counter doesn't speak your language.
GOod stuff.

I wish the schools would implements such technology within the next 30000 years.
Living in Silicon Valley you would think that I would have seen one of those by now here. Now if only they can do the same thing for drive thrus...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Damn my last post was totally riddled with typos.. With an edit button missing, I'll try again.

Not a frequent fastfood user here:)

But when i do go to McDonalds or Burger King the rigid scripted nature of the dialogue annoys me. I can give my order in 1 concise sentence (menu 2, large fries, large diet coke, ketchup, to go please) but the person at the counter somehow needs to go through these step by individual step. Which kinda makes my first sentence a total waste:)

So this newfangled system sounds good to me. Havent seen one in action where i live though.
Maybe Tobold can do a post on his favorite gaming snacks )

Me, I rarely snack while gaming.
There are a number of reasons the front counter people go through the step-by-step process.

First, they're frequently trained in a specific set of phrases that the owner, franchisee, or company deem both customer friendly and that ensure accuracy.

Second, if the employee is new, the will latch onto these procedures so as 1) not to screw up and 2) as a means of comforting themselves in a new and stressful environment.

Third, these procedures might be strictly enforced and the employee will face corrective action should they deviate.

Fourth, they might just not be listen, could be stupid, or some other legitimate fault of their own, rather than procedural bureaucracy.

When I worked in the industry in that capacity, I managed to gain enough clout with my management as well as experience at the counter to ignore anything overly dogmatic, but it's amazing what this type of employee has to put up with - from every direction.

A little bit off subject, but I thought I'd offer a little bit of insight into a position that receives little love from both the industry and the customer base.
Makes perfect sense jaxom92. From a customer's point of view though it sometimes resembles interacting with a machine: only data in a certain format will be registered. From the salesperson's point of view it must be frustrating too: you have all the information required for processing the order but still have to go through the protocol of multiple questions. Of which you already know the answer...
Taco Bells in the US were testing this at least 10 years ago.

A local Taco Bell in my area tried this with multiple order taking computers on poles in the front of the store where you'd normally order. Worked great for me, I whipped through it quickly and had my order. But, older people were just standing there with a blank stare looking at the computers and looking around helplessly trying to find an employee to take their order.

Might work well in combination with the traditional method. Give people a choice. Kind of like self-checkout lines at the grocery stores and ATMs.
I wonder how easily germs spread from person to person via those touch screens - not such a big deal for an ATM machine, but definitely a consideration in a restaurant - might want to use hand sanitizer before eating.
People are too impatient for good service, so this is what you get. This type of service compliments the instant gratification decade. I could anticipate the next step would be placing your order via an iphone and the human interact completely being disregarded.

what is scary is i was in KFC yesterday with my brother and said "wouldn't it be a brilliant idea if they put self service kiosks into these places, so you could choose what you wanted quicker - i think i might start a business doing that".

guess someone beat me to it. that and Gamercards for XBL :( damn.
Certainly you have a valid point from the customer's perspective Phantasmagoria. When I go into a fast food restaurant now, particularly the chain I used to work at, I know exactly what I want and say it in a manner that I think makes sense to the person taking my order. Too often there is confusion or questions that I already answered in my order. So, being on the other side, I could get frustrated. Knowing what I do, I try to be patient, but indeed there still doesn't need to be the computer like questions a lot of the time.
McD's, KFC, Burger King... why would anyone ever consider eating that rubbish?

But yeah great for those people too lazy to cook real food and want to be extra lazy whilst losing another step of human interaction.
Recently I had the misfortune to wait for half an hour to be served in an "old style" cafeteria where they struggled to cope with peak demand despite there being plenty of staff behind the counter. It gave me a new appreciation of just how good at that sort of thing McDonalds are. It doesn't surprise me one bit to see them using technology to make their system more efficient.

Too bad the food is still awful.
Their premium chicken sandwich is alright, imo.

Do people complain about the food they get at a rodeo or carnival? Its food that is of a quality customers expect.

And KFC, their food is actually delicious imo in comparison to good ole home cooked chicken which is usually dry and not as well seasoned, But Whatev.

theres an iPad menu solution, makes me wonder why McDonald's doesnt use these instead
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