McDonald's Is Investing in Customer Service Tech

McDonald’s may be better known for making burgers than customer service technology, but that’s not stopping the fast food giant from trying to become an innovator in the service industry. To that end, McDonald’s has signed a deal to acquire the Israeli-founded customer service automation start-up Apprente, which offers AI and voice-based conversational technology developed especially for use in loud environments.

Once the acquisition is finalized, Apprente will form a new internal group within the fast food chain’s technology team, McD Tech Labs, based at the McDonald’s innovation center outside of Chicago. This latest technological addition rounds out some of McDonald’s other innovation efforts, including the acquisition of a personalization start-up Dynamic Yield, the expansion of McDelivery, the development of the McDonald’s Global Mobile App, Mobile Order and Pay, indoor and outdoor digital menu boards, and self-order kiosks. 

“The initial focus of the Silicon Valley team will be to enhance technology for use in McDonald’s Drive Thru. However, we believe that the broader voice-based technology also has the potential to reach customers when, where, and how they want through incorporation into mobile ordering or kiosks,” a McDonald’s spokesperson wrote in a company blog. “As our needs grow, so will this team--bringing new skill sets into McDonald’s as we build on our commitment to meet customers and crew on their terms.”

By alleviating the pressure on employees and leaving some of the work associated with taking drive-thru orders to AI bots, McDonald’s hopes to improve the experience not only for employees but also for customers, who will have to deal with less frustration and mistakes, which often occur as the result of overworked employees.

“We're testing to see how tech innovations can alleviate pressure on restaurant employees, making it simpler and more enjoyable to serve our customers,” the spokesperson added.

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