May 09--McDonald's Corp. is making moves to step up the customer experience and technology in its restaurants.
A "concierge" opens the door and greets patrons entering the fast food chain's Everett restaurant at 128 Broadway. Other workers stand by to show customers how they can place orders on three self-service, touch-screen kiosks, enter a digital locator number, take a seat and wait to be served their meals at their table.
"It's just a nicer experience than waiting for your food behind a line of customers at the counter," said Mike Lingo, manager of menu innovation at McDonald's headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill.
McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook announced plans in November to modernize the 62-year-old chain's 14,000 U.S. restaurants and put "more choice and control" in customers' hands, with the "Just for You" kiosks, table service, mobile payments, "smart" menu boards and custom sandwiches.
Kiosks are in 11 Boston-area Mickey D's, and a dozen more are slated to get them by year's end.
Screen options let customers use the kiosks in English or Spanish, order food and drink items, edit orders and pay by card at the kiosks or cash at the counter. Kiosks also show calorie counts for each item and the total for the order.
Those ordering the new customizable Signature Crafted Recipes, launched Friday, can choose the topping (pico guacamole, maple bacon Dijon or sweet BBQ bacon), protein (beef patty, grilled chicken or buttermilk crispy chicken) and bun (sesame seed or a brioche-like "artisan" roll), and add extras.
Geoffrey Brewster, owner of the Everett McDonald's that reopened in March after renovations, said employees like the new system. "They don't have to be behind the counter and can interact with customers," he said.
About 70 percent of customers who come into the restaurant are using the kiosks, said Brewster. "What we're hearing is very positive feedback," he said. "A lot of it is, 'Don't take it away, don't just use it as a trial.'"
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