One of the most interesting components of business processes are that they’re ever-evolving. Project managers and business managers are constantly looking for new ways to streamline a process, especially through automation. One industry that has seen quite a bit of process changes in a rather short amount of time is the food service industry. Even before the pandemic, many fast food restaurants had implemented the use of mobile ordering where a customer could simply pre-order their food from the convenience of their mobile device and pick up the food at the restaurant, skipping the hassle of waiting in line. Mobile ordering often comes with its own set of perks and deals as well, such as the ability to schedule a pick up time and save your favorite orders to your history for your next purchase, which is great for frequent customers.
However, once the pandemic hit, it wasn’t just fast food services that were utilizing mobile ordering interfaces – almost every restaurant in business adapted it in one way or another. However, they don’t all get it right. Mobile ordering can be a great experience for both the customer and the business. Customers can walk in and walk out with their food in less than five minutes, while mobile ordering can also allow businesses to allocate more team members to food prep and less to cashier duty. The below process model shows exactly how the food ordering process can be streamlined through mobile ordering, cutting down the steps needed for the business to properly serve its customers. While a great idea on the surface, mobile ordering has a deep flaw that could ruin the customer experience entirely – it operates on the honor system.
While some restaurants do have a few simple but effective processes for verifying customer identity before handing over an order, most fast food restaurants just leave the food in a designated pickup area and hope it goes home with the right person. There is nothing in this process that accounts for the risk of patrons stealing food that doesn’t below to them which, if it becomes a recurring problem, could cost the establishment tons of money, especially if it’s not a type of loss they account for in their budget. This goes to show that not all process changes are “good” process changes. If looking at it from a broader lens, mobile ordering does not fast-track the process by all that much. As shown above, ordering in the restaurant only takes about two more steps than ordering online or in an app. So is it really worth it? The question for whether or not to utilize mobile ordering becomes about what’s more important to the business – a valuable customer experience or loss prevention?