McDonald's, welcome to the club of retailers who think they trial mobile payments without briefing their sales associates. If it's of any comfort, you're in good company.
As a partner of ISIS—the telco's answer to mobile payments ("Hey, Google! You think you’re the only one can't handle mobile payments? Well, we can't handle it just as well as you can't handle it.")—McDonald's launched NFC mobile payments in two markets: Salt Lake City and Austin. As part of those rollouts, they engaged in a vigorous campaign, which apparently consisted of not mentioning a word to anyone who worked for them. (Hey, if you were partnering with ISIS on payments, wouldn't you be likely to keep it quiet?)
As wonderfully detailed in Mobile Commerce Daily, the lack of employee training was obvious. "I went through the drive-thru to buy a latte and said that I want to use my mobile phone to pay," said Carrie Chitsey, CEO of Blk24, Austin. "I got a deer-in-the-headlights look from the employee."
This isn’t the first time we've seen this. Paypal ran into this during a holiday promotion in New Jersey late last year and Square got similarly tripped up this summer. This is a serious heads-up to IT managers who are thinking about customer-interacting mobile project trials: Brief employees—all of them—and test them before you announce it to the public.
The employee is your face to your customers. Have customers do what you want them to do ("I heard you have some sort of mobile feature that allows me to more easily find your products") and then be met with blank stares and you're blowing whatever mobile investment you made. Also, you have seriously damaged the accuracy of the data that comes out of the trial you're funding.
Your take? How practical is to always brief all relevant employees?