The fact that I'm writing about McDonald's is kind of sad as I probably go there too much. However, from the computer-overlord point of view, I have some issues that cause people to suffer and should be addressed. A local and often used McDonald's tends to get my orders wrong quite a bit. I anticipate this and usually live with the results or overly simplify the orders. On three separate occasions it was so bad I found it necessary to call the 800 number on the side of the bag to complain.
When I called, as expected, it was automated. Fine, no problem. I just wanted to register my comments. The 800 number was not just a customer complaint number but an employee one as well. Ok. When I started selecting options on the menu I found the selections a little complicated. Eventually, I had to talk to a person, and she asked various questions. As I was talking to the person she was clearly filling out a form on the computer. She would ask questions and was rigid about the need for answers and limited on the responses I could provide. I don't blame her of course, it's the interface she's working with. My main food complaint was simple. A chicken sandwich was NOT cooked thoroughly and was room temp. During the questions, she asked there was no way to provide that information. I struggled with her to get what we could answered but my complaint didn’t fill in the form correctly. During the process eventually, I got the feeling like, why bother? What a hassle…. But I persisted.
Other questions came up I didn’t know. E.g. “What's the address of the McDonald's?”. I don't know the specific address! I know what road it's on, and the town but that wasn't enough. I know why they are asking but it should ‘figure it out’. Other personal information about me was also asked where I didn’t understand why it mattered. I wasn’t even asking for money or a free chicken sandwich. I simply needed to tell the manager of the store the issue and for that store to have a registered complaint as it was an issue.
What should McDonald's do? Use natural language processing of course!
When I call the phone number it really should specifically be for complaints from customers. Employees should have their own number. The computer on the phone says “please feel free to describe your complaint and any resolution you want” The person calling should also be able to say “I want to talk to a person” of course.
In my case I would've just left the complaint. Then I would have answered which McDonalds “the McDonald's on XYZ road in ABC town”. I may have provided my phone number for a callback or they would know with caller id.
Assuming you choose to talk to a person, the forms the support person needs to use should be natural language-oriented as well. They could just type in comments and be given questions to ask you from the system. Natural language takes away the handcuffs of the poor user interface. By having a free-form language interface the phone operator person does not need as much training and McDonald's can employ more people as needed.
So assuming McDonald's “REALLY” wants to solve/hear complaints, they should replace this system. NLP Baby!!