Average order accuracy in the drive thru fell just over 5 percentage points from last year, interrupting a two-year upward trend. It's a slip that quick-serve companies can't afford to ignore.
Most brands place the greatest importance on accuracy out of all drive-thru components—after all, even if a customer receives the food quickly and with great customer service, if it's the wrong order, he or she will most likely remember the experience for its innaccuracy more so than its speed or friendliness.
What caused accuracy to drop from 89.4 percent in 2018 to 84.4 percent this year? More complex menus, busier lanes, and the drive thru's emphasis on speed are all factors that put pressure on accuracy. But these pressures aren't expected to dwindle in the near future, and it's pushing brands to consider different accuracy solutions.
"We are rolling out a new kitchen display system, which will present the customer's order in more detail. … Digital menuboards also play a huge role in alleviating some of the stressors in navigating a menu. Furthermore, we are testing the use of video for order confirmation," Taco Bell COO Mike Grams says. Taco Bell had the highest beverage inaccuracy, with about 48 percent of its inaccuracies related to the beverage, but the brand led entrée accuracy with only about 15 percent of its inaccurate orders being the entrée.
Dinner was the daypart when customers were most likely to receive a wrong order, and guests were most likely to receive an inaccurate entrée order at McDonald's. Chick-fil-A led the pack in total accuracy, at 94 percent. But this makes sense in light of the brand's straightforward offerings, and more intricate menus touted by brands like Taco Bell and Arby's proved to be a stiffer challenge for employees working to deliver complicated orders at top drive-thru speed.
"If you just add complex items to a menu and don't change the procedures required to put those items together, there's going to be a lot of inaccuracy. We have some of the most complexity in the industry, and we're able to execute it because we're building a production line that allows us to be efficient," Arby's COO John Kelly says.