Optimizing Drive-Thru Performance: Clear Communication

Last week, we explored the drive-thru technology that is part of the drive-thru experience and how these technologies can improve performance. This week, we’re going to take a closer look at drive-thru communications systems and the importance of reliable sound quality. The ability for restaurant employees to communicate with customers as well as team members is critical to ensure a positive customer experience. In fact, a recent drive-thru experience study by QSR magazine found poor speaker quality was the top consumer turnoff.

As Editor Sam Oches pointed out in QSR magazine’s 2012 Drive-Thru study, “The two easiest gauges of a drive thru’s health, speed and accuracy remain the two strategies at the top of every operator’s drive-thru manual.” Poor communication at the order-taking speaker increases wait time and the probability of inaccurate orders. Although customers are looking for fast service, no one wants speed at the expense of order accuracy. When customers receive incorrect orders their likelihood of returning decreases. With an estimated 12.4 billon drive-thru visits in 2011, no QSR wants to risk drive-thru sales because of poor sound quality.

Drive-thru communications systems, like Panasonic’s Attune, improve employee to customer communication through superior digital performance, order taking options and the integration of order confirmation displays. Wireless digital communication system reliability requires exceptional noise cancelling and sound quality.

Conventional order-taking systems typically operate on the unrestricted 2.4 GHz band, which often experience severe interference from objects commonly found in QSRs such as microwave ovens, cellular phones and wireless network routers. Using a restricted 1.9 GHz band, with a regulated Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) voice technology protocol, provides interference-free communications. Noise canceling of in-store kitchen, counter and equipment noises is filtered out by a digital signal processor, so the sound clarity is superb. A uni-directional mic on headsets only picks up sound within 90 degrees of the user, so any background talking is not heard by the customer.

A reliable communications system is the backbone of speed and accuracy in the drive-thru. To truly maximize the drive-thru potential, QSRs need to have a system in place with exceptional sound quality to increase efficiencies and keep customers coming back.

Next week we’ll be breaking down the components that define headset durability and why quality matters in the drive-thru.