McDonald's mobile app triggers worker discontent
- McDonald's is facing rising worker dissatisfaction, high employee turnover and long customer wait times stemming from the ramp-up of its "Experience of the Future" effort, a push to embrace newer technology like mobile ordering and payments, according to a Bloomberg report.
- Some employees at the burger chain say the new ordering technology is causing more trouble than it's worth, with chaos ensuing alongside self-service kiosks, mobile app ordering and traditional checkouts, Bloomberg reports. McDonald's said in a statement provided to Bloomberg that it hasn't seen a link between the new initiatives and higher employee turnover.
- Drive-thru times at the chain slowed to 239 seconds in 2017, more than 30 seconds longer than in the prior year, and behind Burger King, Wendy's and Taco Bell, according to QSR magazine. With unemployment at 17-year lows, turnover at U.S. fast-food restaurants has jumped to 150%, the highest since 1995, according to researcher People Report. That means a store employing 20 workers cycles through 30 in one year.
McDonald's has quickly expanded its services to include mobile order and pay, and home delivery as part of its efforts to appeal to younger consumers that have shunned quick-service restaurants in favor of fast-casual dining at chains like Chipotle and Panera Bread. While much of the employee frustrations Bloomberg reports are tracked via anecdotal evidence that mobile ordering and self-serve kiosks add enough chaos to the operations to urge employees to quit, there are signs that the chain is understaffed to handle its order volume, as shown in the increasing drive-thru times.
The burger joint is trying to manage a variety of economic forces faced by many service industries. Rising minimum wages are gradually pushing up the cost of hiring even the most inexperienced workers, which is leading many restaurants to seek out technologies to reduce their headcount, such as kiosk ordering and mobile ordering and pay, as well as tablet ordering at sit-down restaurants. The low unemployment rate also means that service industries are competing for a smaller pool of job candidates who are willing to jump to new jobs on a whim.
Chains like Starbucks and Chipotle also had to adjust their store operations after introducing mobile ordering. McDonald's, which is the biggest U.S. burger chain with more than 14,000 U.S. restaurants, spent last year working out kinks in its mobile platforms and setting the stage for a larger push this year. McDonald's experienced a high-profile misstep in its effort to emphasize mobile engagement when its app crashed during a free ice cream offer to celebrate National Ice Cream Day, causing customers to take to social media to air their frustrations. The chain may have work to do to ensure that the drive for technological progress is actually improving the customer experience rather than detracting from its service.
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