McDonald's Efficiency Issue & Why AI May Not Be Helpful

I was recently at a local McDonald's, just to use the bathroom. That's not to say I don't enjoy the occasional Big Mac. Anyway, I noticed a lobby full of customers waiting to order and waiting to pick up their orders. Clearly, the restaurant was short staffed as there was one employee frantically bagging orders and another running back and forth from the soda fountain to the drive-thru window while others back in the kitchen were shouting orders.


It's not an unusual scene; I've seen this before at several locations. The one employee who was busy filling up cups of Sprite and Coke asked the waiting customers to use the kiosk to order. Several, all definitely over the age of 50, balked at this notion. They exclaimed they didn't know how to use it and just wanted to place an order. So, the issue with automation in this case is that not everyone is willing to embrace it. No matter how convenient or time-saving technology can make the process of getting a burger, it can't be forced upon customers. Some people simply still prefer the personal touch of being waited on.

This isn't the first, and won't be the last time, that new technological developments at the fast food chain have been criticized. Back in February of this year, influencers slammed the AI drive-thru ordering process. A myriad of videos circulated on social media, showing how the robot order-taker fouled up orders, adding drinks that weren't ordered and the like. 


Is McDonald's bringing artificial intelligence to the ordering process taking it too far, or is it a good idea to increase efficiency and productivity? While the system has a ways to go to be perfected, it's obvious that there will always be the need for a human to give a personal touch for those who desire it.

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