Order-confirmation boards (OCB) remain a polarizing tool in the quick-serve industry. The data is all over the map for OCB implementation, with 84.8 percent of Taco Bell locations featuring the technology on the high end and 7.3 percent of Dunkin' restaurants on the low.
The immediate benefit of the OCB is clear: By listing a guest's order on a screen in front of them, a restaurant can ensure none of the order is lost in translation, thereby improving the chances for accuracy.
But the order-confirmation strategy is not so cut-and-dried. Some brands have employed video screens that show employees to improve multiple components of the ordering process, including order confirmation; Taco Bell's Grams says the brand is testing this strategy, while Starbucks rolled out a similar initiative a few years ago.
Chick-fil-A, meanwhile, famously relies on its employees to confirm orders, which may help explain why only about 13 percent of its restaurants use the board technology. Chick-fil-A's drive thrus are so busy that tablet-wielding team members often replace the speaker and OCB altogether. "A team member can take an order and payment all with one piece of technology, and that technology prompts them to ask the customer's name to help make sure we give the customer the right order," Cooper says.
For those using the standard OCB process, today's boards increasingly boast digital, dynamic screens that can do far more than list menu items.
"The original iterations of the order-confirmation boards, we've come a long way from that," says Kelly from Arby's. "And you know, they're almost interactive to the point [where] even some AI is built in there on what can be purchased and added on. There's some big opportunity there as long as it's done thoughtfully and you don't create an overwhelming experience for the guests in the drive thru."
That opportunity means an OCB can do a bit more heavy lifting than simply confirming an order for a guest, Kelly says—like upselling the customer without any effort from the employee.