At the beginning of October, we released the 23rd Annual Drive-Thru Study — the premier benchmark report for operators across North America. This report measures the performance of leading quick-serve restaurant brands across key areas such as order accuracy, timeliness, and food quality.
In order to help brands get even more out of this operational data, we looked to see what insights our Flash Points, pulse surveys of everyday consumers across North America on a wide range of issues affecting customer experiences, could provide.
Overall, consumers reported that order accuracy is the most important aspect of their drive-thru experience. We also found a significant increase in the number of consumers who prioritize food quality. In fact, food quality surpassed timeliness to be the second most important aspect to consumers.
Here we’ll look at what insights our Flash Points provided that can help brands improve order accuracy as well as why friendliness might be more significant than the above responses suggest.
Order Accuracy and Communication
Consumers place a premium on order accuracy. They’ve carefully selected their items and expect to receive the correct order. So how can brands ensure they are delivering on this expectation?
The Annual Drive-Thru Study found the single biggest factor that improved order accuracy was communication. Clear communication between staff and customers is a simple way to improve order accuracy.
To help brands prioritize ways to improve communication, we asked consumers what would make the speaker easier to understand when placing their order at a drive-thru. Here we found the biggest factor was the quality of the speaker system followed by the employee clearly pronouncing their words.
The Importance of Friendliness
Ultimately, winning a customer's loyalty and their return business will come down to their overall satisfaction with the experience. So we asked consumers what factors they felt contributed to a poor drive-thru experience they had.
Here we saw the same factors in the top 3 factors compared to 2022, but a significant increase in the number of consumers who reported unfriendly staff negatively impacting their experience.
When we initially asked consumers what the most important factors of their drive-thru experience were, staff friendliness ranked 4th. Here we see it’s the 3rd most common factor in negative experiences. Additionally, the Annual Drive-Thru Study found it had a profound impact on overall satisfaction — as well as improving order accuracy and service time.
So how can brands ensure their employees are perceived as friendly? According to consumers, the best ways for brands to improve their friendliness is by ensuring employees maintain a pleasant demeanor, having employees say “thank you”, and ensuring they smile.
Mystery shopping provides unparalleled visibility into operational performance for multi-location businesses. But incorporating customer feedback can provide additional insights and help prioritize ongoing improvements.