McDonald's (MCD) customers aren't as happy as they used to be, but the world's largest restaurant chain has a plan.
Facing a spike in customer complaints on employee friendliness, McDonald's is rolling out a new dual-point ordering system that will hopefully make the dine-in experience less chaotic than it is at the moment.
Diners, franchisees, and investors better hope so.
Grimace is in the House
Shares of McDonald's hit a new all-time high on Friday, but things aren't as rosy as the stock chart suggests. In October 2012 the chain posted a year-over-year decline in monthly sales at the individual store level, the first time since 2003 it reported negative monthly comparable sales.
McDonald's has been expanding its menu aggressively to offset diner boredom. Premium chicken sandwiches, restaurant-worthy salads, and premium coffee beverages give the fast food behemoth more than just burgers to woo diners.
However, all of the exotic additions could also be creating confusion and long waits for customers.
Having a McHeart-to-Heart
McDonald's executives invited franchisees to a webcast last month where it detailed that one in five of the customer complaints that were coming in were about unfriendly employees. According to The Wall Street Journal, executives also pointed out that the number of complaints singling out rude or unprofessional employees is growing.
It could be a training issue, but it could also be the complexity of the menu and the longer wait times for the hungry to get their food.
McDonald's is banking on a new system to get that right.
Your Number is Up
The new system at McDonald's will dish out orders by placing numbers on receipts. A lot of chains do this already, but McDonald's will have an overhead screen that flashes the order numbers that are ready. Instead of having customers hover around the register after they order, the new system frees them to sit or walk around the restaurant until their food is ready.
Perhaps more importantly, there will be a dedicated employee bringing the completed orders to the opposite end of the counter. The move will free the clutter around the registers, and the runner will be able to fulfill any requests for sugar packets or honey-mustard sauce containers instead of tripping up a cashier tending to a new order.
A more pleasant experience will naturally encourage more repeat visits. McDonald's needs that to happen, regardless of what its sky-high share price suggests.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends McDonald's. The Motley Fool owns shares of McDonald's. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.
Go Inside The Secret Test Kitchen Where McDonald's Invents New Menu Items
McDonald's to Roll Out New 'Dual-Point' Ordering System
Tucked away at the McDonald's C.O.B. — or Campus Office Building — is the test kitchen, where the fast food chain comes up with all sorts of products.