As drive thru goes digital, a customer service question naturally arises—will human customer service be replaced with AI or other technology?
Not yet. Brands are reticent to name technology as a substitute for drive-thru customer service, preferring to look at digital innovation as a tool to add to the customer service mix, taking some stress off human team members but leaving face-to-face communication in its place.
“No matter how advanced our technologies become, they’ll always be used to simplify and enhance a fast drive-thru experience for our customers, but never at the cost of great customer service,” says Deepak Ajmani, senior vice president of U.S. company operations for Wendy’s, a brand that performed in the mid to high range in every 2019 service category.
Overall, saying “please” was the customer service attribute that guests encountered least often, and late afternoon was when customers were least satisfied with their service, with only 26 percent ranking the service at the highest level, or “very friendly.” About 40 percent of customers ranked their service at the highest level during every other daypart, pointing to a mid-afternoon lull in customer service that could use some livening up across all brands.
Customer service heavy hitter Chick-fil-A may fall behind in speed of service, but the brand’s personal, friendly approach to guest interaction consistently pushes it ahead in nearly every service category. What can other brands glean from Chick-fil-A’s approach? Focus on the rare moments in the drive thru when customers communicate with employees, Cooper says.
“We think that customer service is critical, especially in an environment like the drive thru where the customer has limited touch points to experience our people and our brand. Team members deliver what I like to call microbursts of hospitality to make sure our customers know we care about them,” she says.