Moraitakis says this same philosophy encourages Chick-fil-A crewmembers to design the drive-thru experience around each customer. He says employees are trained to listen for clues in each customer’s voice; if she sounds rushed and knows precisely what she wants, she’s probably in a hurry and should be accommodated. If the customer sounds like he’s in a playful mood, the crew is given the license to be playful back. And if it’s a familiar voice, employees are encouraged to recognize the regulars.
That customer-service component has become a well-known signature at Chick-fil-A, and other benchmark brands are trying to replicate the model to similarly boost the overall drive-thru experience.
At Taco John’s, for example, a major focus in the coming year is on the guest interaction in the drive thru, Gianguzzo says. “We don’t want our guests to feel rushed, but we want to enhance their meal. So if there is a suggestive selling opportunity to complete a meal, we obviously want to do that,” he says. “At the same time, we don’t want to try to sell them 10 things either. All of a sudden we sound like a used car salesman trying to add on everything. So we want that experience to be pleasant, we want it to be genuine. We don’t want [employees] to sound like a robot where they’re saying the same thing to every single guest. And we want those pleasantries.” (For more on customer service in the drive thru, click here.)
- Average Service Time
- Order Accuracy
- OCB in Place
- Pre-Sell in Place
- Impact of Pre-Sell
- Landscaping Condition
- Service Attributes
- Customer Service
- Suggestive Sells
- Suggestive Sells Timing
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Along with improved customer service, menuboards and signage in the drive-thru lane can help streamline the process by making the purchase decision easier for customers, the benchmark brands say. Wendy’s, for one, is working in cleaner, better-organized menuboards with more pictures as part of its broader store remodeling, Lynch says.
Various other drive-thru strategies are being tested and employed at quick serves across the country: digital menuboards, dual drive-thru lanes, remote order takers during rush. And operators continue to keep one eye on the future as they roll out affordable and effective technologies.
“I think you’re going to see more restaurant chains experimenting with mobile payments off your mobile device,” Lynch says. “Conceivably, you could load up your favorite meal into your app and when you get to the restaurant at the order station, you just flash your app and all of a sudden, boom, your order is delivered.”
How that will evolve speed of service in the drive thru remains to be seen.