The question as to how one can improve fast food, and the quality of service that accompanies it, is one that has concerned researchers and members of the public far more than those who sell these products, whose main aim after all is simply to keep money rolling through the tills at the least cost. Nevertheless, it is an issue that needs to be addressed by all stakeholders in this unique sector of the food industry, partially because of the increasing linkage between fast food and health issues but also in relation to issues related to the quality of the final product, its marketing and customer service.
Let us first consider the quality of the product. Due to its concentrated upon offering low prices to the customer, it can be assumed that the quality of the raw material ingredients used in fast food is likely to suffer, basically because the fast food outlets purchasing in this area will be driven by the need to achieve minimum cost. The problem with this approach is that it leads to a situation where, potentially, the food product offered contains a higher level of fat and other elements that can add to health issues. For example, some consider that fast food adds to the increasing obesity problem that it reaching almost epidemic proportions in some countries. In other words, despite these outlet’s attempts to introduce healthier options into their menus, the basic products that they have built their markets upon still contain ingredients that can be considered damaging to health if consumed in excessive quantities.The term ‘fast food’ also indicates that the intention of these outlets is to achieve rapid turnaround of their products, from kitchen to customer. This need for speed can sometimes lead to a situation where the food presented to the customer can be undercooked, which not only spoils the taste but can also be potentially harmful.
It follows therefore, that there is a need for the management of fast food outlets, and those who regulate and inspect these premises, to ensure that these businesses aim to seek a constant improvement in the quality and nutritional value of their products and, additionally, that safety standards in terms of food preparation and rigidly enforced. For example, there is little interaction between employees and customers and, on occasions, the manner of the staff can come across as being blunt, almost to the point of rudeness. If fast food outlets wish to retain the loyalty of their customers and not lose this to competitors, they need to ensure that all frontline staff are adequately trained to ensure that they provide a quality service to the customer.
In relation to the more practical aspect of the fast food outlets, which include the packaging and customer service quality, there are also needs for improvement. For example, in terms of packaging, although there have been some moves towards packaging that is biodegradable, and therefore environmentally friendly, this has not been adopted by all fast food outlets. Moreover, there is still a considerable amount of wastage in fast food packaging that could be elminated, without this being detrimental to the product. Reductions in this area would not only be seen as an environmentally friendly step but would also produce cost savings for the business. Perhaps some of these cost savings could be directed at improving customer service. Because of the focus of fast food outlets on employing low cost frontline staff (those who serve the customer) and the reluctance in many cases to spend money on customer service training, often the experience of going into a fast food outlet can be quite disappointing and frustrating.
There is no doubt that fast food has become an integral part of the customer food chain requirements. However, if it wishes combat the continuous stream of criticism that is level at the sector from various stakeholders, it is important that the sector is seen to be engage upon a process of continual improtvements. In this respect, it is considered that improvements in the quality of the products, reduction of wastage in terms of packaging and an improved quality of customer service, should be a high priority.