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Drive-Thru Times and Customer Satisfaction

by Rob Greer | Nov 20, 2013

Drive thrus were invented as a customer convenience feature. Customers want things done quickly, efficiently and with minimum hassle. We have drive thru wedding chapels, drive thru banks, drive thru liquor stores, drive thru pharmacies and drive thru dry cleaners. Any service that can be brought to the customer without making them get out of the car has probably been thought of and tried. It’s a uniquely American phenomenon.

Americans like being served fast. So how fast is “fast”? Studies have shown that customers like quick, efficient service but there is a point where service becomes too quick and too impersonal. The drive thru that focuses only on time may be short cutting that tiny bit of personalization the customer is looking for. Make your service too fast and customers don’t like it, service too slow and the customer doesn’t like that either. How do drive-thru businesses find just the right service time and then add that small personal touch that doesn’t make the customer feel like they’re crossing the finish line at a NASCAR race?

QSR Magazine publishes a drive thru study each year that talks about nearly every facet of the drive thru. The research study compiled measures changes and catches trends. The study shows there are two primary things the customer focuses on. First is speed of service and second is the accuracy of the order. Unfortunately these two factors seem to have an inverse relationship. Drive thru’s focusing on speed sometimes make mistakes creating inaccurate delivery of the order. This is especially frustrating to the drive-thru customer who is likely long gone when they discover the inaccuracy and there is no way to correct it. Drive thru’s focusing mostly on order accuracy sometimes slow service to the point where customers ask themselves why they didn’t just get out of their car and walk in. Throw in the complexity of changing menus at QSR’s and team members trying to up-sell customers at the drive thru and you have so many factors influencing customer satisfaction at the drive thru its nearly impossible to know if you’re doing it right.

Solutions are like new products, everyone has one. So how do consistently great drive thru operators hit the sweet spot between fast service, order accuracy and offering that little touch of service as the car pulls out? Many use a timer system to do just that. Timers, by their very nature, focus on service times at the drive thru. Yet when mixed with other data, these new sophisticated drive thru timers can provide the operator with some very rich information that helps them hit that fast service, highly accurate, personal touch transaction every time. Of course you must first have a timer system that delivers that kind of analytics package. Not all timers do that.

Delphi’s Fast Track® timing system provides the user with a great software package that allows the entire drive thru team to view their metrics on an amazingly clear display. The store manager or franchise owner can access their drive-thru data from the internet and even compare store performance if more than one store is included in the system. Combined with the metrics of Delphi’s Order Confirmation Display operators have a sophisticated tool that provides all they need to manage speed of service and order accuracy.

The power of drive thru metrics from a Fast Track® timer system matched with order accuracy and a smile when the customer pulls away creates a great guest experience and a return visit.