McDonald's to engage with tech-savvy customers in restaurants

McDonald’s is engaging with customers by implementing interactive technologies in its restaurants

McDonald’s is engaging with customers by implementing interactive technologies in its restaurants.

The fast-food chain is exploring technologies including self-serve kiosks, tablets and 3D printing to attract tech-savvy customers.

Mark Fabes, director of IT and digital at McDonald's Restaurants UK, said his main challenge is the “disruptive customer.”

“Our customers have technology at their fingertips and expect to engage with our business using technology,” he said.

Fabes said he has to adapt the McDonald’s formula of “good food, fast” to the digital savvy customer, while encouraging staff to stay up to date with technology customers use, and technology that make their jobs easier to do.

“We’re operating in an always-on society,” he said and while the chain is extending many restaurants to stay open later, Fabes needs a robust technology to support the kitchens and back office that uses a large amount of technology.

Innovative tech

McDonald’s is trialling self-order kiosks, as well as interactive tables and tablets, for customers to use in restaurants.

Fabes said he could look at 3D printing in restaurants to reprint toys from Happy Meals for children who don’t manage to collect every single toy in the set.

While implementing innovative technology is one thing, Fabes said it is important to join up the different technologies to build an “integrated restaurant”.

“How do you make the experience seamless and exciting at the same time?” he said. “We’re not doing it in isolation – we’re trying to join it up in a digital ecosystem.”

He said the restaurants must have consistent touch points in its look and feel to communicate with the customer at different points of the journey, from digital marketing, to people sitting at home and potential customers walking by a restaurant.

Gamification

The restaurant has also experimented with gamification on its mobile application. McDonald’s launched a range of smoothies over the summer, and offered a voucher for a free drink on the app. To receive the voucher, customers were presented with a "block of ice” on their mobile devices, which they had to scrape off with their fingertips or hold up to the sun to “melt”.

“It was about enticing people into the restaurant by asking people to download the app, and it was a little bit of fun,” he said.

Getting it right

But most importantly, the technology has to work perfectly first time round, otherwise customers won’t come back and use it again. “I’m not in the game of buying and supplying that technology,” he said. “I’m open to have those provisions provided to me, and also giving some flexibility and agility to move with the times.”

Fujitsu is behind the technology implementations at the fast-food chain, and speaking at the vendor’s annual conference in Munich today, Fabes said the McDonald’s board is incredibly supportive of investment in technology. But this support comes from explaining in business terms what the technology will bring to the business. “It’s more than enablement, it’s business growth.”

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