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The Golden Arches… an iconic symbol recognised throughout the world as both a safe haven for fast food and a brand that generations have enjoyed for almost 60 years. As the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, McDonald's serves customers in 117 countries with the help of their 400,000 staff members. However, these numbers could decrease with the recent announcement that McDonald's is to replace some of its cashiers with touchscreen terminals and swipe cards. This announcement, which will affect the 1,200 UK outlets, comes at an interesting time.  Last week CEO of McDonald's UK, Jill McDonald, said it was time to dismiss clichés about jobs at McDonalds being low-quality. McDonald reminded the Institute of Directors at its annual conference that more than half the executive team at the US-owned business started in one of its 1,200 restaurants and 90 per cent of restaurant managers joined as trainees (according to a Guardian article). According to a recent FT article, the company is looking to ''woo cash-strapped customers'' by making its restaurants more convenient and convivial. This would make transactions shorter per customer, according to Steve Easterbrook, president of McDonald's Europe, who is responsible for 7,000 restaurants in 39 countries. With almost 13 million customers a day, this would definitely improve turnover and perhaps result in happier customers.

The positives of this change definitely out weight the negatives: quicker transactions, the option to use a card rather than cash, as well as the chance for the fast food chain ''to gather more accurate customer' ordering habits,'' said Easterbrook from McDonald's Europe. This progression into the digital era is certainly not the first attempt by the fast food chain. Starting with its website in 1996, McDonald's has continuously been involved in the social media world. Their US Facebook page, with more than eight million fans, promotes its latest offers and games. There are also several YouTube pages, and most countries have Facebook and Twitter accounts, interacting with customers beyond the till. Rich Wion, director of social media at McDonald's, outlined the strategy behind McDonald's use of Twitter in a recent interview. Before communicating with customers, the social media team spent a year researching the interactions on Twitter to find out what people were talking about, but also how they were talking. An obvious fact is that McDonald's is a popular topic, but keywords like 'fries' and 'hamburgers' would generate more buzz than 'salads.' According to Wion, their team of ten tweeters follow a schedule, alternating who interacts with the customers on a particular day. With more than 130 thousand followers, McDonald's is sensing their customers' hunger for social media interaction, and are responding in a way that also 'humanises the brand.' As technology continues to dominate big brands, McDonald's is very wise to introduce this; a change that proves why the fast food chain remains at the top. The date of when this change will happen in the UK has not been released but I believe, like McDonald's hamburgers, the new touchscreens will leave the customer satisfied.