Burger King Loses in Drive-Thru Experience

QSR Magazine just published the latest data comparing quick-service restaurants' drive-thru experience-and Burger King came in last overall. For the 2012 Drive-Thru Performance Study, seven restaurants were rated on these criteria:

The drive-thrus didn't fare too well on the customer service dimension. Brian Baker, president of Insula Research, the firm that led the study, said, "Even with pleasant demeanor, I'm thinking, why would that not be 100 percent? OK, so maybe 98 percent because everybody has a bad day, but it just seems like a no brainer to me. I'm still scratching my head on that."

Rather than 100%, ratings for "very friendly" ranged from 27% ro 57%, with Burger King receiving the most "rude" ratings: 2.8%

QSR Data

Denny Lynch, Wendy's senior vice president of communications, blamed service failures on limitations in hiring: 

"Part of it is to make certain we are hiring the right people. Wouldn't it be nice if [the drive-thru crewmember] had a great personality? Wouldn't it be nice if they could smile at you? Wouldn't it be nice if they could say, ‘Thank you, come back again'? So you hire people that have that personality and the skill level to be able to do that. … You can't just assume that they can handle every situation until they've done thorough training."

The study reported good news about drive-thru cleaniness. Brands generally did well in measures such as whether the dumpsters were visible and how clean the menu board appeared.

Discussion Starters and Assignment Idea:

  • What can QSRs do to improve their customer service at the drive-thru windows? Consider the restaurants' hiring practices, training, performance standards, and management.  
  • Create a visual chart from the customer service data above. If you wanted to convince Burger King management to focus on improving the drive-thru experience for customers, which data would you include? What type of chart would you use? Assume that your chart appeared on a PowerPoint slide, and include a talking headline to convey your main point.