Atlanta-based chicken chain Chick-fil-A is famous for its customer service, and the company didn’t disappoint in this year’s drive-thru data. Employee service attributes, from smiling and saying “please” and “thank you” to making eye contact and having an overall pleasant demeanor, were sky-high at Chick-fil-A and cumulatively far ahead of the rest of the pack.

Mark Moraitakis, senior director of hospitality and service design, says employees are the company’s “secret recipe,” and the drive-thru strategy is designed around people as much as it is technology and systems.

“It’s all about speed and accuracy, but we know our customers appreciate that we can be nice while being fast and accurate,” he says. “Eye contact and smiling go a long way in the drive-thru experience.”

To ensure customer service stays top-shelf, Chick-fil-A establishes dedicated drive-thru teams who are consistent and work well together. Recently, Chick-fil-A also implemented a new “face-to-face ordering” component in which employees line-bust using tablets in the drive-thru lane. Moraitakis says the strategy first started among local operators in Houston, but is now rolling out to Chick-fil-A locations nationwide.

“Face-to-face ordering allows us to use technology to increase speed, and to leverage our greatest asset: our Chick-fil-A team members who are interacting with customers in the drive-thru line,” he says.

On top of face-to-face ordering, Chick-fil-A is employing more double drive-thru lanes to avoid bottlenecking in the drive thru and also tested a new outside payment process last year that it will soon roll out nationwide.

Customer Experience, Drive Thru, Ordering, Special Reports, Chick-fil-A