Ug, McDonald's, the place I visit too often 8-O, has a poor ordering process in the drive-thru. Here are the main issues:
- Weather, if it’s raining/snowing/cold/hot you have to open your window
- The speaker and microphone physically are not the greatest at talking with a cashier/order taker
- Errors, due to MANY MANY factors
- The accent of the order taker or person ordering. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ accent, it’s just different between customer/cashier and adds to the problem especially when the microphone/speaker/weather is poor. The same is true of any computer voice potentially.
- Payment has to be done with cash/change to/from the cashier or credit card.
- Validation of the order at all three stages (order, pay, service) is not done, is not easy or not accurate.
- You get your food and it’s wrong. There is little recourse especially since you are have already moved on.
- The order is done right and YOU are WRONG. Yes, that happens, and there is no proof for McDonald's
Solution: natural language processing of course.
In some small ways, a few companies have started to do some ordering through natural language. I see a future at McDonald's where I use McDonald's app or Siri messaging to order or ask questions using only natural language. I know what's on the menu, I know what adjustments I might make, I can certainly add a credit card to the app and maybe even my license plate number to make the process more efficient.
The following is how the experience should be:
- I plan on going to McDonald's
- When I am within a short distance, say less than a quarter mile, I open my McDonald's app, or I say ‘Hey Siri order McDonalds’
- I then say my order (which can include questions)
- quarter pounder, no cheese, no onions, and a large diet
- The system (natural language system, not a person) asks if I'm done, I said “yes”, it repeats the order and I agree.
- I pull in a particular line and the order is brought out. (by drone ;-) )
My payment is automatic, they know my car, and the bag has a printout of the order validating the contents. I can always relisten to the order if there is an issue. This would include hearing my voice ordering the food. The McDonald's menu is finite and small so the language is limited and doable today. There are no reasons it’s not….McDonald’s needs the NLP religion.
It will be awesome. Almost no friction except I have to drive to the McDonald's. Obviously with Uber Eats and other like services I wouldn't have to do that either. But it's probably good to get out and to not just eat at McDonald's. ;-)
NLP it up!