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Burgers and digital transformation

August 24, 2021

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Digital transformation is a term most readily recognized in the high-tech world, and as applied in most of our articles, is most regularly related to smart cities, public services, and utilities. But there’s really another whole approach to the transition that’s being experienced day-to-day by all of us, likely going somewhat unnoticed.

Now that a number of restaurants have welcomed guests inside again, take a look at a recent innovation that has occurred at the always-popular McDonald’s location near you. While employed some time before the pandemic, the existence of the ordering kiosk seems more noticeable and prevalent than it was before. For those of us in technology daily, it’s a siren call to the inner geek that is hard to resist.

The touch screen is large, and the photos that set our expectations for mouth-watering food are visually appealing. The large print is accessible, and you don’t need glasses to comfortably read the offerings, showing that there was considerable thought put into the presentation and user experience. The digital transformation employed has resulted in a spike in overall sales of approximately 27% overall and over 10% from the exact timeframe in 2020. The attention to improving the customer experience has certainly paid off for them.

And they were not timid with the rollout of the introduction. They clearly understand that Innovation must be deployed to all users—the sooner the better. McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc used to say it wasn't real until it hit the restaurants,and that standard has been upheld by implementation of the kiosks across their locations.

Digital transformation changes behavior

Customers were given the opportunity to decide how, where, and when to order and the flexibility has paid off for McDonald’s. They now order at the counter, the kiosk, or on a McDonald’s app from their phone. They pick up their order inside or at the drive-through window, or they have it brought to their car when they arrive.

The options to get what you want—when, where, and how you want it—are astounding. A considerable part of the ordering stress is replaced by a culture of hospitality. Gone are the piles of ketchup packets handled by dozens of other customers. A polite server personally delivered the extra condiments requested at the kiosk, directly to the table along with additional napkins. These simple touches enhance the perception of quality, but the somehow the experience can make the food taste even better.

Now let’s get back to our businesses. As we consider utility digital transformation, we should ask ourselves, what does this level of consumerization in society do for customers’ expectations? McDonald’s customers will also turn on/off electric service. They will install solar panels on their homes, complain about their high utility bills, and wonder why a crew is digging up their street. Customers rightfully expect simple, intuitive digital solutions from their utility providers.

Utilities are just-in-time enablers of electric power for the same customers. Many utility processes are optimized for something other than the customer. They are often optimized for employees or for legacy reasons.

How long does it take to initiate a new electric service? Would McDonald’s customers be impressed? How would their view change if they were notified 90 seconds before a troubleshooter arrived to address their problem?

We have an opportunity to learn and apply lessons from other organizations as we transition to more effective solutions. But you don’t have to go it alone and forge the path through the wilderness alone. Learn best practices and get guidance on your digital journey from a seasoned team of professionals who can provide detailed plans for a modular or expansive evolution over the time and budget you have available. Contact ESC Partners to learn how.

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