McDonald’s Wishes For Better Voice Recognition Technology

Via Paul Kedrosky:

“‘Would you like your Coke and orange juice medium or large?’ Ms. Vargas said into her headset to an unseen woman who was ordering breakfast from a drive-through line. She did not neglect the small details —’You Must Ask for Condiments,’ a sign next to her computer terminal instructs — and wished the woman a wonderful day.

What made the $12.08 transaction remarkable was that the customer was not just outside Ms. Vargas’s workplace here on California’s central coast. She was at a McDonald’s in Honolulu. And within a two-minute span Ms. Vargas had also taken orders from drive-through windows in Gulfport, Miss., and Gillette, Wyo.”

The article is fascinating. Like Paul, I also was caught off-guard at first, reeled back, and wondered why it surprised me. The descriptions of the call-center environment seem like a sick blend of Big Brother with sweatshops. Thinking about it makes me feel… icky.

As I delved further and further into the article, one realization popped out at me:

If McDonald’s could replace the people with machines, they’d do so faster than you can say “Big Mac.” Is that really a loss though? Loss of low-skill, low-wage jobs – yes. Degradation in customer service? Probably. But PR / marketing aside, no one expects good customer service from McDonald’s. Hence, McDonald’s makes even more money killing us slowly. Eerie.

The Long-Distance Journey of a Fast-Food Order – New York Times

P.S.

Don’t forget BugMeNot.

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