McDonald’s Implements New, Very Far Away, Drive Through Order Technology

Mickey Dee’s is adding a twist to the garbly voice sneaking through the drive through loudspeaker. The person on the other end isn’t even inside the restaurant you’ve pulled up to, they’re in Hawaii Santa Maria, California.

The new service, currently experimental, reduces costs by centralizing customer service operations within a set of skilled and more precisely trained individuals.

The remote customer service center is subject to typical efficiency pressures. “Software tracks [their] productivity and speed, and every so often a red box pops up on [their] screen to test whether [they are] paying attention. [They are] expected to click on it within 1.75 seconds. In the break room, a computer screen lets employees know just how many minutes have elapsed since they left their workstations,” reports the New York Times. During peak times, operators can take anywhere up to 95 orders an hour.

Money saved through this cost efficacy can be shunted towards other facets, like developing the new chicken slab on top of a quarter-pounder with cheese meal, lite.

And for the operators, another bonus. One worker said after work, “I don’t smell like hamburgers.”

The Long-Distance Journey of a Fast-Food Order” [NYT] (Thanks to Aaron!)

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  1. Josh Cohen says:

    I think I experienced this yesterday. The person who took my order had a hispanic accent, but the person who took my money did not, nor did the person who gave me my food at the second window. Also, that sign in your picture that says “you must ask for condiments”? Well, my drive-through person asked me that too.

    McDonalds has a habit of trying new stuff with the drive-through. I can’t count how many drive-throughs I went to that had a boarded-up or painted over “third window” from when they used to take your order at window 1, pay at window 2, and get your food at window 3. That didn’t work all that well.

  2. RandomHookup says:

    I thought Hawaii has huge labor shortages (most islands do). Why take it to Hawaii rather than Iowa or Nebraska like most call centers? Perhaps the time difference helps?

  3. kerry says:

    Is it just me or does rapidly clicking on a little red box randomly popping up on the screen while trying to do your job sound like torture? Seriously, I’d probably start tearing my hair out and throw the damned computer on the floor after about 4 hours.

  4. DeeJayQueue says:

    Sorta-Related… for a while the Kentucky Fried Taco Huts around us were doing these pre-recorded “Hi my name is kathy would you like to try the new __________ sandwich with your order today?” The first time I’d ever encountered them was with a friend who was driving. We pulled up to place the order and “Kathy” started in to her spiel and my friend started screaming “Fuck You Kathy! I Hate you you fucking bitch!!!” as I sat bug-eyed in the passenger seat, unaware of what was going on. Then the real person came on and he ordered the food as normal. I guess you had to be there.

  5. mrscolex says:

    I, like Kerry, am very distraught over this red box. WTF? I would hope that if somebody is taking a call that the only thing they’re focusing their attention on is the person on the other end of the line.

    Do CSR people really have to do stuff like this?
    Could this be the reason they SUCK?

  6. airship says:

    I’m in Iowa, the #2 spot on the globe for customer service centers (after India). And the people I know who work in them are borderline suicidal all of the time. They are paid a few cents over minimum wage to deal with rude and abusive people on the phone all day, work on a contingent basis with no benefits, get minimal training, are written up all the time for minor infractions, are constantly monitored, and have to put up with idiotic crap like popup red boxes. All. Day. Long.
    I try to avoid calling anyone’s customer service line for anything, but when I do I try to be courteous, patient, and understanding. Those people have it rough.

  7. Paul D says:

    Oh yeah. This is gonna work great.

  8. I’m sorry if this makes me heartless, but I’m ecstatic about this. My order is normally taken by a poor teenager who’s got 15 different people yelling at him in addition to filling up a soda while he’s trying to concentrate on me. But now I’ll have someone who’s all about me. I’m the only thing they have to focus on, besides, one would imagine, the crushing failure that is their lives.

  9. John Stracke says:

    Correction: the call center is in California; one of the restaurants is in Hawaii. (Makes more sense, doesn’t it?)

  10. Rick Dobbs says:

    I’m with Justin. In California it’s usually someone who’s excellent at Spanish but not so much in English. Plus they can focus on getting the order out the door rather than taking orders and making sure that they get it right and getting my fries and drink.

    The experience I’ve had so far with this has been great and my orders have been a lot more accurate. Go McD’s.

  11. RandomHookup says:

    So the new trick will be: what questions can we ask that will prove the person taking our order isn’t on the premises…

  12. Fairytale of Los Angeles says:

    As a former call-center short-timer (I quit when the company started behaving fast and loose with personnel files and ignoring harrassment complaints)… yeah, that red box would make me just short of homicidal as well.

    If you’re paying me to work, just let me work. Don’t keep checking up on my shit with some new metric-providing torture device that saves you from having to *gasp* have actual human interaction with your workforce. People spend a lot of time these days talking about Jobs Americans Don’t “Want” To Do; I think it’s more relevant to point out that *no one,* *anywhere,* really “wants” a job where it’s presumed that you suck even before you’re hired, where you’re timed to the minute on getting back from lunch, and where your essential dignity is reduced to another number on some logsheet in an office you’ll never see.

    That doesn’t seem like rocket science to me, at least; maybe it’s different for your average CEO, once the soul-extraction procedure has taken place.

  13. non-meat-stick says:

    who eats this crap?

  14. Aoife says:

    It’s like in lost where every 108 minutes or something they have to click that button. Nobody gets sleep. They’re irritable.

    Another thing..

    Absolute proof that that intelligence and obesity are directly porportional.