It's mind-numbingly easy to place your McDonald's order with the swift tap of a touchscreen. You need not even interact with a human, thanks to delivery through UberEats, mobile ordering with curbside pickup, and in-restaurant touchscreen kiosks.
To maintain its head honcho fast-food spot, McDonald's has infused technology throughout their ordering experience. This presents unintended consequences. Don't be surprised if your order takes longer than expected.
According to Bloomberg Technology, McDonald's drive-through wait times now lag behind Dunkin' Donuts, Wendy's, Burger King, Taco Bell, and KFC. The data was gathered by QSR magazine over 2017. The average wait time at a McDonald's drive-through was almost four minutes (239 seconds), a full 30 seconds slower than 2016.
Even if you order through a screen, humans at the other end are still responsible for preparing your order. Your Big Mac isn't the only one in their queue. Employees are now juggling the walk-up orders with the drive-through orders with the UberEats orders with the McDonald's mobile app orders with the touchscreen kiosk orders. See where I'm going with this?
Employees have more to juggle with fewer resources to do it. No matter how they've placed their order, customers expect the same McDonald's experience: hot fries and fast efficiency. It's becoming more difficult to deliver on that promise.
For this very reason, McDonald's employee Dudley Dickerson quit. "They added a lot of complicated things," Dickerson told Bloomberg Technology. "It makes it harder for the workers."
Another McDonald's employee, Westley Williams, told Bloomberg he's leaving to take a job at Checker's because the mobile orders and kiosks have caused too much stress and chaos. Williams told Bloomberg he asked for a raise for doing extra work, but didn't get one. "When we mess up a little bit because we're getting used to something new, we get yelled at," Williams said.
On paper, McDonald's 250,000 employees are generating more revenue than ever. Each employee generated about $65,000 in revenue in 2016, Bloomberg reported. Last year, it climbed to $97,000 in revenue generated per employee. Great news for McDonald's pockets. But will it last?
Higher revenue does not mean the workers are happy -- or that the customers are either. If McDonald's can't figure out a way to more seamlessly integrate technology into the experience without stressing its workers out, customers could be looking at longer and longer wait times. And they may just very well start eating elsewhere.