Chick-fil-A drive-thrus outperforms McDonald’s, Wendy’s and other major competitors, study says
Chick-fil-A is making customers happier than many of its major rivals when it comes to drive-through services, according to a new study.
In the latest install of its annual drive-thru study, Intouch Insight analyzed responses from 1,537 Drive-thru experiences, with participants visiting 10 major fast-food outlets across the United States since May. 6 to July this year.
Ten takeout chains were included in the analysis: Arby’s, Burger King, Carl’s Jr., Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’, Hardee’s, KFC, McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Wendy’s.
The speed, friendliness of the staff, and getting the order right all play a part in the overall happiness of customers as they drive to buy their food.
According to research, people who visit KFC’s Drive-thrus have the fastest average visits, with the entire process taking just over five minutes. According to the study, Chick-fil-A’s driving speed was the slowest, with an average total time of around 8 and a half minutes.
Wendy’s had the second-longest total driving time, with customers saying their experience took more than seven minutes on average.
However, Chick-fil-A was also reported to be the busiest, with an average of 4.74 vehicles queuing, compared with an average of less than two vehicles queuing at Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s and KFC.
Although Chick-fil-A’s customers had to wait a little longer, they were most satisfied with their food.
The chain scores highly for food quality, sharing first place with Taco Bell in the quality of drive-thrus restaurants.
Top performer Chick-fil-A is a favorite with diners across America even outside of its drive-through service, has been named America’s favorite restaurant in eight years of operation.
Get what you order
In terms of accuracy, Arby’s and McDonald’s came in first place, with both brands having an order accuracy rate of 89%.
Burger King, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s followed closely behind, with all three brands receiving more than 85% of Drive-thru orders.
Wendy’s comes in last when it comes to order accuracy, with a fifth of the fast food chain’s orders being incorrect, according to the study. This is the only string with less than 80% accuracy.
One-third of incorrect orders across all brands occur when a customer drinks the wrong beverage, while one-fifth involves an incorrect primary supplier. Fifteen percent of participants told researchers that their order was made incorrectly.
Drive-through ordering increase during the pandemic, with in-person dining prohibited during the lockdown. However, In Touch’s research shows that the major brands’ drive-thrus hasn’t improved in accuracy over that time, with the incorrect order rate remaining relatively flat since last year. 2019.
Inaccuracies aren’t just frustrating for customers – according to research, placing the wrong order can cost fast food giants millions of dollars a year.
Using an average meal cost of $9.02, In Touch calculates that incorrect orders have a potential annual cost of $540 million per 10,000 locations.
When it comes to service, Carl’s Jr. and Chick-fil-A scored the highest, with 95% of participants who visited their drive-thrus saying they were satisfied with their experience.
At the other end of the satisfaction scale, McDonald’s and Wendy’s have the lowest scores, at 85% and 82%, respectively.
Chick-fil-A’s employees are said to be the friendliest, with 88% of respondents who have used the company’s drive-thru system saying their waiters are friendly. When it comes to unsatisfied customers, McDonald’s leads the way with 8% of customers saying the staff is unfriendly and 61% saying they’re friendly. That made it a level with Wendy’s, where just over half of customers said they were served by friendly staff and 6% positively said staff were unfriendly.
Survey respondents said they rated employees as friendly based on behaviors such as eye contact, pleasant demeanor, smiling and saying please and thank you.
The researchers found that a lack of employee friendliness was also linked to the speed and accuracy of orders, which in turn could potentially affect the bottom line of companies. Unfriendly workers can cost fast food giants nearly $2 billion a year for every 10,000 locations, according to the report.
Laura Livers, head of growth strategy at Intouch Insight, said: “While it is logical that happier associates lead to a better customer experience, the real impact on a company’s finances and operations is unfriendly service is incredible.”
She added that companies that can “crash” on employee satisfaction and training will be the ones that offer the best dining experiences.
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