The quick-service industry relies on efficient communication. A poor sound quality can lead to incorrect orders and delays and can greatly impact the quality of service and customer experience. 

Drive-Thru Challenges

A hot spot for miscommunication to occur is the drive thru, where taking the correct order relies heavily on technology. If the combination of the drive-thru speaker and headset worn by the employee are not working correctly, communication errors can occur, leading to inefficiencies and the loss of repeated service.

There are many factors that can contribute to order inaccuracy in the drive thru, including:

  • Weathered outdoor speaker
  • Lack of visual confirmation screen
  • Low-quality headsets
  • Outdated technology
  • Broken or low-battery headset

Depending on the environment, weathering to the speaker outside can weaken the sound clarity for both the employee and the customer. Implementing tools such as a “Pull Ahead” illuminated sign and confirmation screens can help the drive-thru run smoothly and increase order accuracy.

Additionally, the headset worn by the employee plays a large role in drive-thru efficiencies. Often, drive-thru headsets can be worn long past their prime. Having high-performance headsets with advanced technology in-house can keep the drive-thru moving quickly and accurately.

Drive-Thru Solutions

Technology continues to grow at a rapid pace, and it can be difficult—sometimes intimidating—for restaurant operators to stay on top of new developments. However, certain technology innovations can drastically increase efficiencies and should not be overlooked and instead viewed as a safeguard investment that ensures quality.

Today, digital headsets have grown in popularity across the industry, replacing outdated analog systems and enhancing the overall drive-thru experience. The new digital systems have higher sound quality and performance for better order accuracy, as well as better general customer service and experience. On the employee side, the headsets are lighter than the analog system, making them more comfortable to wear. Easy-to-use technology also provides a more intuitive user experience for employees.

Traditionally, headsets are all one piece—including the battery, microphone and headphone—so if there are any issues, it will need to be sent to the manufacturer for repair. However, new and advanced headset technologies are modular and can be repaired in-store in seconds. These headsets consist of three main detachable parts: a headband, carrier and control pod. The modular headset system allows you to quickly and easily remove a broken carrier from the control pod and swap it out with a new carrier. The self-repair process couldn’t be any simpler than that. 

An added benefit of digital headsets is the smart battery. Unlike older headsets, smart batteries have a fuel gauge with four LED lights that can show the user how much battery is left. High-quality headsets also hold their charge longer and can be charged without removing the battery all together.

The drive-thru should not be treated as an afterthought. It requires a full, competent team that is focused on speed and accuracy. Increasing the overall customer experience starts as soon as they drive up to place their order and it does not end until they drive away, satisfied with their correct order. By using technology-enhanced tools, quick-service restaurants can improve brand experience by providing a personal connection with exceptional service.

Joe Ciampi is the Sales Manager for 3M Commercial Solutions Division and has over 25 years’ experience in the hospitality industry. Prior to 3M, Joe worked for companies such as Oracle, NCR and food service companies such as Aramark and Compass group.
Drive Thru, Outside Insights, Story, Technology