Drive-thrus offer convenience and speed to grab a quick meal to customers and additional revenue stream to restaurants by increasing the capacity. Drive-thrus have become more popular, especially with COVID-19. From February 2020 to February 2022, drive-thru orders grew by 20%. However, increasing traffic magnifies operational bottlenecks such as wait time and poor experience leading to loss of sales.

Major Drive-Thru Challenges of QSRs

1. Drive-thrus struggle with long wait times

Annual QSR Drive-Thru Report indicates that Convenience and Speed of Service are still the top two factors why respondents have chosen drive-thrus in the last years.

Speed of Service Average Total Time
(Intouch Insight)
Speed of Service was slower than expected
(Intouch Insight)
Revenue Loss per store due to long wait times
(Intouch Insight)

2. Employee attitude affects the experience and revenue.

Friendliness of service decreased from 79% in 2019 to 72% in 2022. The restaurant staffing shortage has overwhelmed employers and employees since the beginning of COVID-19. Lack of friendliness affects accuracy and speed of service and costs $184K per store per year on average.

3. QSRs miss suggestion-driven revenue opportunities.

QSR Drive-Thru employees offered 42% of shoppers additional menu items in 2022 compared to 28% in 2018. 87% of the offers are combo meals followed by the full menu.

How Voice AI helps with QSR Drive-Thru Challenges

The adoption of artificial intelligence in restaurants, including voice AI, has increased convenience and speed.

By adding voice to drive-thrus, restaurants can take orders when customers arrive at the drive-thru lane, thus decreasing wait times and freeing up employees to complete the orders. Although employees may not follow the scripts or include phrases such as “please” and “thank you” to maintain the quality of service, machines return optimal responses. By running A/B tests with multiple messages, QSRs can create cross-selling and upselling opportunities to increase revenue.

Choosing the right voice AI vendor is crucial to unlocking these opportunities. Otherwise, poor voice experiences can do more harm than good. Make sure the voice-enabled drive-thrus

  • understand the menu. The voice AI vendor should offer flexibility to tailor models. Otherwise, the software may misunderstand Meatatarian Burger as Mediterranean Burger and cannot match it with the menu.
  • is accurate across accents and in noisy environments. The software should understand people from various backgrounds and when there are ambient sounds such as traffic noise or wind.
  • is fast and reliable. The software, ideally, should process voice data on-device to avoid any latency issues. Consumers may wait for Alexa to play the next song for a minute. However, waiting for a minute for every menu item will increase the wait time and affect the user experience.

Start designing a voice activated drive-thru now!