Although brands have experimented for years with small tweaks to their traditional drive-thru service, the COVID-19 pandemic forced rapid innovation to better serve the higher traffic volume. While drive thrus made up as much of 70 percent of sales before COVID, the drive thru quickly became a lifeline for quick-service restaurants. As a result, operators invested in new technologies to help meet higher-than-ever customer expectations. Today, crews serve more customers than ever before at multiple touchpoints—dine-in, the drive thru, mobile orders, and curbside—and customers expect a fast, seamless experience with each order.
“The COVID pandemic forced us all to reevaluate and adjust our business operations,” says Paul Foley, president of HME Hospitality and Specialty Communications. “Drive thrus have evolved into operations with multiple order and pickup points. It’s no longer just about serving customers in the lane quickly and efficiently. It’s also about meeting service expectations at every additional channel like curbside pickup spots.”
To better serve customers, restaurants need a communication solution that seamlessly connects drive-thru and crew communication, plus provides critical insights in real time. “We want mobile order customers to have a fast and flawless experience just like they do in the drive thru,” says Lupe Cabrera, a general manager for a major quick-service brand in San Diego, Calif. “Integration between my headset and my drive-thru timer helps bring awareness to mobile order wait times and enables my team to make mobile customers a high priority so the customer doesn’t have to wait on us.”
Equally important, more restaurants want drive-thru communication systems that enable newer technologies like ordering via artificial intelligence (ai). “Many brands have been successfully testing automated ordering in the drive thru and have seen that it enables their teams to multi-task,” Foley says. “While the AI takes orders, employees are freed from order taking and empowered to enhance the customer experience with personable, face-to-face interactions when it matters most.”
The NEXEO | HDX Crew Communication Platform, created by HME, delivers on all these points. It features all-new high definition HDX Digital Audio, optional system integrations that provide critical performance alerts to the right person at the right time, supports tight integration to highly accurate automated order-taking (AOT) systems, and is cloud-connected for platform upgrades to meet the ever-changing restaurant needs. Team members can use voice commands to perform certain tasks like immediately connecting to a drive-thru customer, connecting privately to a team member via headset for coaching, and more. NEXEO also allows one-on-one calls and segments crews into groups for more efficient operations, all without disrupting drive-thru communication with customers.
“Delivering a great customer experience starts with making key communication easy and fun throughout the restaurant while maximizing efficiency,” Foley says. “NEXEO | HDX is specifically created to be the total restaurant communication solution for today and tomorrow, elevating your operation to exceed your customers’ expectations and enable future changes in the rapidly evolving quick-service restaurant industry.”
To learn more, visit hme.com/nexeo