A growing number of customers are complaining about McDonald's customer service, to the point that a top executive recently declared that "service is broken" at the fast-food giant.
McDonald's said 1 in 5 customer complaints nowadays are related to friendliness issues, with the top irritant being that employees are rude, according to a webcast the restaurant's executives held with franchise owners last month.
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The complaints have increased significantly over the past six months, one of the presentation's slides read, and customers are put off by "chaotic" service.
"Service is broken," read another slide in the presentation delivered by Steve Levigne, vice president of business research for McDonald's USA.
Monica George, an employee at a McDonald's branch in Brooklyn, N.Y., said stress behind the counter can lead to tension in the customer-employee exchange.
"Let's say I'm in front at the register and the grill's not pushing out food quickly enough,"
she told the Wall Street Journal. "So you have to wait on food, and the customer is getting aggravated at you because you're not giving them the food quick enough, and the grill gets aggravated with the cashier because we're asking where the food is."
In a survey of the 10 largest fast-food chains it conducted earlier this year, research firm Technomic found that McDonald’s came in last in the "friendly, pleasant service" category.
"Although McDonalds has struggled with pleasant, friendly service
, they are still the largest and most used restaurant in the industry," Technomic executive vice president Darren Tristano told NBC News via email.
Following a period of declining sales, McDonald's installed Jeff Stratton, formerly the company's global chief restaurant officer, as president, with the renewed goal of improved customer service.
"The new leadership has decided to focus on customer satisfaction as a real driver for us to build the brand and build sales," one McDonald's franchisee told the Wall Street Journal. "So for us to maximize the potential that's out there, we've got to be the leader in guest satisfaction."
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