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West Orange Times & Observer Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016 3 years ago

McDonald’s hires more staff after installing automated kiosks

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McDonald’s recently added self-serve kiosks to one of its Winter Garden locations. And it’s actually enabled the staff to offer a more personal experience.
by: Gabby Baquero News Editor

You’ve seen them in Walmart, and Chili’s and now they’re popping up in McDonald’s. It’s become nigh impossible to miss the novel trend of stores and restaurants embracing technology with self-serve kiosks.

Two months ago, the McDonald’s location on Daniels Road and State Road 50 installed two self-serve kiosks at its entrance, complete with a human concierge nearby to help customers unfamiliar with the system navigate through the process.

This change comes as a result of McDonald’s selecting Florida as one of its test regions for the automated kiosks. To date, the state has 95 stores with the kiosks, with nine located in Central Florida, said Dipika Joshi Hernandez, media relations manager for Dalton Agency, which represents Central Florida McDonald’s locations.

The addition of the automated kiosks in this location is part of the corporation’s new initiative called “Experience of the Future.” McDonald’s plans to have more than 600 locations with the self-serve kiosks by Nov. 16.

“‘Experience of the Future’ goes beyond the kiosks; it’s more of a personal experience that goes beyond the front counter,” said Jason Watson, the supervisor of the McDonald’s on Daniels Road and State Road 50. “In the days of old, you came to McDonald’s, you placed your transaction, (and) the employee stayed behind the counter, but now we’re encouraging our employees to come out and interact more with the guests. Because that’s what (the customers) are telling us — they want that interaction.”

Furthermore, the addition of the kiosks did not mean a reduction in jobs. Watson said the Winter Garden location has increased from 50 employees to almost 70 since the kiosks were added two months ago.

“There’s been some criticism when (some customers) view the kiosks,” Watson said. “They think that it’s actually eliminating jobs, but it’s quite the contrary. We’ve actually added four more order points in this store right here, and that creates a bigger need for employees behind the counter to help fulfill those orders, as well as the production area to produce the food. And then, in addition to that, we added another lane in the drive-thru. So we actually opened another position in our drive-thru area. If anything, we’ve added more positions through this versus eliminating them.”

Watson applauds McDonald’s approach, because he believes it’s creating more of a personal, informal relationship between customers and employees by eliminating the physical and psychological barrier front counter imposes. 

    “I would say that, for the employees, it’s actually allowed them to interact on their terms,” Watson said regarding how it has benefitted the employees at his store. “It’s a little more of a personal experience. We used to have a 6-step process on greeting customers, like robotic, you (did) these steps over and over again. … Now it’s more personalized (because) we allow the employees to engage with the customers and greet them within reason. So a younger employee will greet a younger customer with ‘Hey man, what’s up?’”

Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected]

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