WSJ recently ran an interesting article (and video) on how and why McDonalads is testing using robots to cook and voice-recognition software to take orders at drive-through.

The why is simple. To quote the article: “Both technologies are meant to shorten customer wait times that executives acknowledge have grown in recent years. McDonald’s also has stopped serving some burgers and given franchisees more control over their menus recently to simplify operations.”

But why is it important for the chain to shorten customer wait times?

For one, shorter customer wait time means they can serve more customers in a given time period. More customers means more sales. More sales means – hopefully although not always – higher profits.

The second reason is similar but more from a customer perspective. Shorter wait times at fast-food restaurants will in general translate into a better experience (not always true in other restaurants!), and will more likely to induce customers to visit more and more often. The opposite is that if a customer is ired by a lengthy wait, then he or she will not come back again. For me, I still shudder at the 1.5 hours spent waiting in a checkout line at a big-box retailer 15 years ago… I have never set foot in that store again.


Related article:

Wait, Where Did That Burger Go? Diners Struggle With Fast-Moving Digital Menus Digital screens flash promotions, but sometimes the images are too fleeting; a glance at Cheetos Popcorn (link)