Tuesday, May 26, 2009

And a Side Order of Burnt Fries, Please...

And a Side Order of Burnt Fries, Please…

It seems that fast-food restaurants are experimenting with local job outsourcing as The Charlotte Observer offers this report.

 "Companies began trying remote ordering in 2005. As with outsourcing in other industries, technological advances -- namely high-speed Internet -- made it possible. When customers pull up to the menu, a call center worker takes the order on a computer. The order pops up on a screen inside the restaurant.”

Despite the number of technology companies developing order taker outsourcing solutions, the use of them so far is not widespread. Others have tried centralized order-takers within the st="on"United States, and it is observed that one potential reason for not implementing these outsourced solutions may be “they've found it difficult to prove it saves money.”  The article notes other companies who have experimented with limited trials including the parent company of Hardee's. Representatives of Burger King and Taco Bell said they have not tried it and don't plan to at this point.  Pizza call center solutions are particularly hot right now, according to this article about a leading provider of call center and online restaurant ordering services that has signed a contract with a New York style pizza chain in st="on"Colorado. Given the nation's high unemployment, if these order taking outsourced solutions have possibly failed to prove cost savings, why the push to take away these jobs from local citizens and hand them to “dedicated restaurant ordering call center call centers”, many which then contract the jobs out to cheaper workers as far away as India? The article also cites a local st="on"Charlotte mother's fast-food order outsourcing experience, as she describes the practice as “an awful lot of trouble” and wonders what the rationale for outsourcing these jobs is all about. She relays her outsourced order taking experience here:

"I had noticed it [several months ago], but I just thought the person taking the order was somewhere else in the store where we couldn't see them," said Elizabeth Banks, a Charlotte teacher and mother of three who takes her 15-year-old daughter and her daughter's friends to Jack in the Box for Oreo milkshakes most Friday afternoons. "It never occurred to me they might be out of the country."
At one point the girls asked the order-taker, "Where are you?" There was a pause, Banks recalled. Then, the person on the other end said, "st="on"Texas."
"I really don't think that's where they were," Banks said.

If outsourcing fast food order taking jobs to people in other countries proves to be unsatisfactory and unprofitable,  will common sense thinking prevail? During this country’s economic downturn, employing our citizens first is key to rebuilding our local economies. Whether fast food chains seek to outsource order taking or not is a secondary question, but the imperative, first question should be if so, why not staff U.S. call centers with U.S. citizens locally instead of sending those jobs to st="on"India or hiring H-1b employees to replace them?” Quality and trusted customer service matters. As this Customer Management Insight article explains, whether you’re referring to the work of individuals or communities, call centers are catching on. The article notes that the big trend that John Boyd, president of site selection consultancy Boyd & Company (Princeton, NJ) observes is a “a return to quality.” The author explains:

You’ve got to create value beyond the operational savings,” he says. That value comes from productivity, which entails a lot more than reducing labor costs."

Let's hope all the kinks get worked out.



Anonymous said...

the day we at Borriello Brothers outsourced to Stellar was the beginning of a very abd period. They butchered more orders than you would believe, and they were rude to our regulars. I love my job, and choose to remain anonymous for a reason, but man, I can't wait until the day Stellar isn't associated with us. The name "Stellar" is a joke in very poor taste.

2Truthy said...

Thanks for your comment and I am glad to hear you love your job. Must be a great place to work. Maybe these kinks take time to get worked out and I hope it goes smoothly for you and your co-workers to deliver quality service to your regulars.