9/15/2005

A Big Mac from India? What the hell?

When youre watching late night television and you get the sudden urge to order Winsor Pilates or maybe even College Girls Gone Wild 17, you expect to be able to understand the operator taking your order. Unfortunately this isn't always the case. More times than not you will get a lady from India whose accent is heavier than a sack of dirt. It makes me want to just hang up and try to get an American. No offense to any people who have accents, but I just can't understand you. So what am I really getting at here? McDonalds is now trying to outsource their drive-thru ordering process. Next time youre there you might be hearing someone with a New Jersey accent. Kind of a cool idea if as long as you keep it in America. I don't know where they are finding people who are willing to sit at a computer and take McDonalds orders all day long. But I guess someone has to do it, just not me.

22 comments:

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sara said...

I totally agree. I once tried to call a customer rep for my internet card, and I seriously had to call back 3 times to finally get someone with an accent that I could understand. It was really frustrating

Chloe said...

So, I think it's great that McDonald's is trying to improve their service. I just wonder if it will work. What happens if the phones go out or someone pushes the wrong button? Does the drive-thru shut down until it's fixed because the workers are so used to having a computer do it for them that they won't be able to take orders? It just seems like a risky thing to do if there are any gliches in the system.

ethan said...

It seems that you think that the American accent is the universal one that everyone should have. To these people you are calling, you have the strong accent. I hope you jump out of that box you live in and learn about the world.

destiny said...

Jump out of the box I live in? Learn about the world by listening to a foreign telemarketer? Not quite sure youre gonna learn very much from that.
I didn't say that the caller needs to have an American accent. I simply said that I need to understand what they are trying to say. If you say I have the strong accent to them then you basically proved my point for me...
What good is it if neither of us can understand each other?
But good job trying to sound open minded by assuming I am close minded.

ethan said...

Wow!!! I knew I would get a reaction from that but I didn't think that the author would come down off of the high horse that they ride on to tell me that I am trying to be open minded by calling them closed minded.
In my opinion (you don't have to agree) is that in the world today you are going to have to hear accents that you can't understand. If you aren't a big enough person to at least not make fun of these people then good luck dealing outside of this all white state that we live in. I hope you haven't already offended to many people with your wonderful post.

destiny said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
destiny said...

Se non potete capire qualcuno, quindi che cosa è il punto del servizio? Ciò siete scritti in italiano, potete capirli? Mi rendo conto che il mio punto con questo è mólto differente che gli accenti semplicemente capenti. Ma il fatto della materia è quello se non potete capirli, quindi come è il servizio favorevole. Non ho fatto non una volta il divertimento di qualcuno, in mio intero alberino. Ho dichiato semplicemente che non potrei capire che cosa stava essendo detto. Tanto come voi che non potete decifrare questo. Ostruisce le possibilità bidirezionali della comunicazione. Vada avanti ed usi la gente con gli accenti, quella non è che cosa sto protestando circa. È quando CANT LI CAPITE

Wait, did you understand what I just said?

Let me translate it for you...

If you can't understand somebody, then what is the point of the service? This is written in Italian, can you understand it? I realize that my point with this is a lot different than simply understanding accents. But the fact of the matter is that if you can't understand it, then how is the service beneficial. I didn't make fun of anybody, not once, in my entire post. I simply stated that I couldn't understand what was being said. Much like you not being able to decipher the Italian part. It blocks the two-way capabilities of communication. Go ahead and use people with accents, that's not what I'm complaining about. It's when you CANT UNDERSTAND THEM that's frustrating.

Also,
For your future reference...
"Two" is the number after one
"Too" is in addition or more than enough
and
"to" is toward a given state

ethan said...

OHHH!! So you mean like you gave too much information in saying that i'm wrong. Or that you are too touchy when someone tries to question something you say. Your point is well taken and anyone can get a paragraph translated on the internet. I just don't waste my time trying to defend something that I have no ground to stand on with long critisims of someone I have no idea who is and was just trying to make a point not start a fight in TWO different languages.

ethan said...

By the way I can speak Italian

Dan said...

I do not think it has anything to do with being tolerant of others when it concerns the service that a firm offers. If a product is being marketed to American consumers, then effective communication should also be available. I am sure that someone over in India who has a question would prefer to talk to someone with an understanding of their native tongue. Because believe it or not, effective comunication also involves understanding.

destiny said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alex said...

I agree with Destiny on this one. I hate it when I'm trying to order some clothes, and the operator has such a heavy accent that it takes twice as long just because I have to keep on asking them to repeat themselves. I know that everyone needs jobs, but isn't there like a class they could take to help thin out their accents?

Dr. Tufte said...

-1 on Destiny's post for spelling errors.

Um ... last I checked most local drive through order takers sound like Charlie Brown's teacher. Someone from India may not be worse.

The problem here is a common one in analysing social science and business data. Suppose that someone in India actually takes your order and you don't notice - would you still complain? Without keeping track of who takes each of your orders, we can't tell whether accent makes a difference. This means it's quite possible that the success rate is actually higher with an Indian and you don't even know it.

Of course, the managers aren't dumb. They wouldn't do this if the bottom line wasn't improved. Having said that, Destiny has a point that accent/language barriers can be a problem that can affect service. This is an example of a negative externality - and managers can make poor decisions if they have trouble measuring the associated costs accurately.

The real way to do tell is with some sort of long term experiment. One product line with domestic call-takers and one with foreign. Then watch how revenue and costs evolve.

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