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I want my pie

The McDonald’s at JFK International Airport had an inventory discrepancy after I recently ate there. If it reconciled sales of the just-added Strawberry Pie with how many pies were still on hand at the end of the day, the count would have been off by one.  So would the tally of satisfied customers, because I never got the pie—despite a wait of easily 30 minutes (hey, the restaurant was by my gate.)

The chain’s mounting service problems couldn’t have been on starker display. Except, perhaps, for the snafu I witnessed three weeks later at a unit almost in the shadows of the chain’s headquarters.

Personal experiences are a shaky foundation for sweeping characterizations, but the chain has acknowledged its service problems, though internally, not to the public.  Executives addressed the issue in a webcast to franchisees earlier this year.

According to reporters who saw the presentation materials, the Golden Archers noted a climb in complaints about speed of service.

Amen to that. It’s routine now to step away from the counter and wait, and sometimes wait a long while, for your order, even if it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

The store in Oak Brook, where a fellow customer waited about 20 minutes for three ice cream cones, at about 3 in the afternoon, is printing numbers on its receipts. Place your order, then pick up your food when the number’s called.

That’s a sign of plague. At the very least, use the customer’s name, not a number. Talk about depersonalizing the customer.

But the bigger issue is losing service speed when convenience is your M.O.

It’s a classic case of speed being sacrificed to add more menu choices. The next rung down the ladder is losing quality to complexity. McDonald’s should wise up and be sure that doesn’t happen to what is still the service and quality standard of the quick-service market.

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