Innovation experiences outperformed legacy experiences at seven of 10 brands.

Intouch Insight’s recent Emerging Experiences study examined how innovative technologies and different forms of ordering performed across 10 major quick-service restaurant brands. Experiences like ordering at a kiosk versus the counter and orders placed through apps for drive-thru pickup versus traditional drive-thru or picking up in store were all analyzed thoroughly in the recent study. The findings show how guest experiences were impacted by the new technology. 

Speed and accuracy still reign supreme when analyzing how quick-service restaurants perform, so factors like total time comparisons, wait times, and mystery shop scores were all considered to give operators a comprehensive view of what customers are looking for and how restaurants can remain competitive. Dig into how all four experiences did in this study.

The Kiosk vs. The Counter

A whopping 66 percent of Americans said they prefer self-service kiosks over checkouts, according to a recent survey by PlayUSA. The reasons why might be better understood through Burger King and Shake Shack’s innovative experiences where technology comes first. In both Burger King’s Sizzle prototype and Shake Shack, orders through kiosks were more accurate and led to greater customer satisfaction. 

Accuracy was five percent higher with a kiosk compared to the legacy experience. Customers were more satisfied with pickup experiences at Burger King’s Sizzle prototype, which focused on shorter wait times, better digital ordering experience, and simpler employee workspaces. 

According to Laura Livers, chief revenue officer at Intouch Insight Burger King and Shake Shacks success leads back to a spirit of innovation and rigorous measuring protocols to see what works. “When launching innovations like these, the brands coming out on top are continuously capturing data to help them understand the impact on the guest experience. Whether that’s through customer feedback surveys, social listening, or mystery shopping, the key is to collect and act on data and insights,” Livers says.

Satisfaction Soars at Taco Bell’s Go Mobile Location

In the second experience, it was clear innovation is having a big impact when considering mobile orders for drive-thru pickup. Taco Bell scored 100 percent in order experience, pickup experience, and overall satisfaction according to Intouch Insight’s Emerging Experiences Study. 

Friendliness was also rated 30 percent higher with the innovation experience, with less face-to-face time with employees. Another win for restaurants’ bottom line is noted in Taco Bell’s Go Mobile experience. Twenty percent of customers reported being offered a suggestive sell, compared to three percent of shoppers placing their order live through the drive thru. Overall for this experience, accuracy also saw a big boost, with an 11 percent increase over its legacy counterpart.

Focus on What Customers Care About

Nearly half of consumers prefer to pick up their orders rather than have them delivered, according to a report by Lightspeed. Livers points out that while mobile ordering delivered more accurate experiences, and reduced time in the drive-thru there is an improvement to be made. In some cases, factors like merging drive-thru lanes can hinder the efficiency of the experience. 

“If you look at other examples of execution of y-drive thru lanes in the field, training employees to understand when a vehicle should be moved out of the line to wait, or approaching cars to take orders can avoid some of the pitfalls seen in our study results. Whatever the innovation you are launching is, it’s important to keep in mind the intended objective.”As you innovate across your customer touchpoints, brands must have tools to measure every step of that customer journey.

Innovate Don’t React

The study revealed that investments in innovation, such as AI voice ordering and structural changes, are paying off with higher customer satisfaction. Digital systems, like kiosks, not only streamline the ordering process but also enhance overall customer experience and order accuracy.

While innovation is vital to the continued success of quick-service restaurants, it is important to know that in these cases a part of the success was that brands took the time to measure what was working and why. “Measuring wait times, table turnover, and kitchen efficiency helps optimize operations. Innovations like self-ordering kiosks or mobile apps can streamline processes,” Livers says. “Furthermore, data-driven decisions based on customer behavior and preferences allow restaurants to allocate resources effectively.”

Studies like Emerging Experiences reveal how the industry is performing and where it can improve. What is working and what will need to change for evolving consumer preferences is necessary for the industry’s continued success. Livers concludes: “Measuring the customer experience is not only about gathering data; it’s about using that data to drive meaningful innovations that benefit both customers and the restaurant.” 

Read the Emerging Experiences study here

By Ya’el McLoud

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