In a bid to boost productivity and increase efficiency, we’re seeing all manner of self-service kiosks sprouting out all everywhere. McDonald’s, for example, has brought in these kiosks to just about all their restaurants. There are others too, like Hans, for example, where I dined at a couple of weekends ago. But I wonder if Singaporeans are ready for them.
The Hans outlet I was dining at was packed. I had a bit of trouble finding seats. Once I did find them, I was pleasantly surprised that the self-service ordering kiosks had no queue at all.
I was happy to order at the kiosk. Despite the rather long queue at the counter to place orders, it seems no one was willing to use the kiosk. Perhaps they didn’t know how to use the kiosk. Good for me, I guess.
Then I waited. I waited quite a while. You know, Hans is suppose to be quite fast. They were calling queue numbers way, way, ahead of mine. I know, they may not call in number sequence. Maybe if they were calling 3 or 4 numbers ahead of me, that’s fine. But it was more like 10 or 11. I seriously wondered several times if they had somehow forgotten my order.
My order was finally ready after about 25 minutes of waiting. I brought my food back, settled down and got ready to dig in. Then I realised they missed my drinks, my soup, etc. I went back to the counter, and after some brief moments of puzzlement, I found that because I self-ordered, I broke their workflow. People who ordered at the counter were given their drinks and soup immediately. When I ordered at the kiosk, their workflow broke. In fact, perhaps by using the kiosk, I had also upset their kitchen orders, thus my somewhat long 25 minutes wait.
Perhaps this was one isolated restaurant that hadn’t quite figured out their kiosk operations properly.
McDonald’s self-service kiosks works well. I hesitate to say it’s excellent, because for them, the problem is with customers.
People are standing in front of the kiosk taking time to think about what they want to order. You know if they were at the counter, the service staff could have prompted them, offered suggestions, or otherwise tried to expedite the ordering. This doesn’t work at the kiosk. Not only do we have customers who aren’t familiar with using the kiosk, there’s the added delay of them lost not knowing what to order.
I often think that in the case of McDonald’s, the manual ordering at the counter is probably faster and more efficient, for the customers. It is less efficient, no doubt, from McDonald’s point of view, since they need manpower to service the counters.
Some tweaking to improve the system is needed.