Many Hawaii McDonald’s Drive-Throughs Use Workers In Texas

HONOLULU — More than half of the McDonald’s restaurants in Hawaii with drive-throughs are now using what are called “remote order takers” — people taking your order from a call center in El Paso, Texas.

The operation requires special training for the call-takers so they can understand Hawaii customers.

McDonald’s Restaurants of Hawaii started testing remote order takers in 2006. It then began expanding the program statewide in 2007.

“We want to make sure that our customers get their orders right and they get them in the most convenient way possible,” said Melanie Okazaki of McDonald’s Restaurants of Hawaii.

McDonald’s actually trains the Texas order-takers to understand local phrases and accents.

“Sometimes people throw in a little bit of pidgin here and there and so we want our order-takers to become accustomed and comfortable with that,” Okazaki said.

So McDonald’s does some role-playing with the order-takers from the mainland and gives them a few Hawaiian words to use such as aloha and mahalo.

“It takes a little getting used to on the order-taker’s side, but I think with practice, they become more and more comfortable working with our local clientele,” Okazaki said.

McDonald’s said the new system is delivering more accurate orders and speeding up service, but there is no cost savings.

“We haven’t pared back on our labor force at all. In fact, we’ve been able to have our crew members concentrate more on their particular position,” Okazaki said.

So food workers can concentrate on the food without worrying about taking orders as well.

If the system goes down, restaurant staff can still handle drive-through orders in house.

Thirty one out of 50 Hawaii McDonald’s restaurants are using the new technology. The other 19 have chosen to keep things as-is.

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