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  • How to Transform the Guest Experience in the Drive Thru

    A drive-thru worker hands a customer their food.
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    thinkstock

    Driving Change

    There is no shortage of competition in the quick-service space. The industry is expected to grow 4.20 percent to $690.80 billion by 2022. In an already crowded marketplace, it is critical that brands and operators continue to enhance their businesses to stay ahead of the competition. That means more than just offering great tasting food and delivering it quickly.

    To stay current in today’s competitive landscape, it needs to be about providing an overall engaging guest experience that keeps customers coming back.

    In recent years, quick service restaurants have modified menus with healthier options, applied technology to gain efficiencies, added creative loyalty programs, and modernized restaurant interiors to achieve a competitive edge.

    One area many quick-service restaurants have not updated is the drive thru. With up to 70 percent of quick service sales coming through the drive-thru windows, giving every guest a great experience in the drive thru should be a top priority in 2018.

    For many quick-service restaurants, digital menu boards have transformed the guest experience inside the restaurant with vibrant images and graphics that capture guests’ attention and drive sales. Going digital in the drive thru can provide these same benefits to the customers who prefer the convenience of ordering in the drive thru.

    Click the arrows in the photo above to begin the story.

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    flickr: frankieleon

    Convenience is King

    The drive thru is all about convenience, and digital menu boards improve the convenience factor for drive thru guests. They are much more reader-friendly than traditional static menu boards, allowing guests to view menu options and timely LTOs easily. Digital signage helps guests view all the options more efficiently, keeping the line moving and getting the food out the window more quickly.

    Today’s digital menu boards can also contain order confirmation systems that feature timely promotions and complimentary menu items. This allows restaurant crews to engage guests at the moment of purchase and offer a more valuable guest experience while also ensuring order accuracy.

    Customer gets a bag of food at Chick-fil-A in the drive thru.
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    Chick-fil-A

    Ensuring Accuracy

    One way to decrease customer loyalty is by getting the orders wrong. It’s one thing in the restaurant when the guest is forced to return to the counter. It is another thing when a drive thru guest reaches their destination, ready to eat, and finds the wrong items in their bag. It is not uncommon for mistakes to happen when the ordering process isn’t face to face, but that doesn’t lessen frustration for the guest.

    Going digital in the drive thru can help alleviate this potential frustration by helping to ensure accuracy. Enabling the customer to review their order on an order confirmation system before it is filled can make a significant improvement on order accuracy.

    In addition, digital menu boards are run on robust platforms that make content management easy. By being able to make easy updates and synchronizing menu options between the indoor and outdoor signage, and among various locations, operators can ensure the accuracy of the menu options and all pricing. And these management platforms provide operators with key metrics to ensure the effectiveness of their content and helps them make necessary adjustments to their operations.

    A Wendy's worker hands food out the window of a drive thru.
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    Wendy's

    Bringing it Outside

    To give every customer a great experience no matter where they order, it’s time to go digital in the drive thru. With more than half of a quick service restaurant’s business coming through the drive-thru lanes, a digital drive thru can be the difference maker that builds customer loyalty and drives sales growth. 

    Mussana Hashmi is the Product Manager of Digital Solutions at SICOM, which serves leading quick-service brands with end-to-end technology solutions, including front-of-house, back-of-house, and above-restaurant solutions. SICOM currently serves more than 25,000 restaurants in 53 countries.