Fast-food outsourcing gets trial run in Charlotte
The Associated Press
Posted: Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009
CHARLOTTE, N.C. A fast-food giant has been trying to determine whether its easier to place your drive-through order with someone around the world instead of around the corner.
Jack in the Box Inc. has been outsourcing order-taking for some Charlotte-area restaurants to a call center elsewhere, testing whether the idea could improve efficiency.
Company spokeswoman Kathleen Anthony told the Charlotte Observer that the technology is intended to improve speed, accuracy and service. The San Diego-based restaurant chain hopes the process will free up on-site employees to process orders, accept payment and address other needs.
"It is something we're testing, not something we're necessarily committed to at this point," said Anthony, declining to discus the results of the Charlotte trial that began in the middle of last year.
Anthony told the Observer that the orders are routed to a Texas call center operated by Bronco Communications, and she said some orders may be routed outside of the country.
Restaurants including McDonald's and Wendy's franchisees have tried centralizing orders but neither has used the program nationally because they have found it difficult to prove it saves money, said Sherri Daye Scott, editor of QSR Magazine, dedicated to the quick-service restaurant industry.
Customers in Charlotte have noticed heavy accents among order-takers only to find different workers at the drive-through window.
"I had noticed it (several months ago), but I just thought the person taking the order was somewhere else in the store where we couldn't see them," said Elizabeth Banks, a Charlotte teacher and mother of three. "It never occurred to me they might be out of the country."
Kate Mosteller, marketing director of Andover, Mass.-based Exit 41, which focuses on off-site order taking, said the technology can help eliminate barriers between customers and employees who speak different languages. But it can also be difficult to match order-takers with customers who may have different dialects or expectations.
"You want someone who's friendly and articulate and who can understand ... different nuances," Mosteller told the Observer. "(Otherwise) you're going to know you're (being routed) somewhere else, and that's exactly what you don't want to do."
Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotte.com
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