Companies understand the competitive need to offer convenient options to customers to maintain customer loyalty, and this involves fast and friendly service. Formerly only a feature of fast food establishments like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s, other locations such as Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and some restaurants now also offer drive-thru convenience.
A few simple, polite behaviors will ensure an accurate order at the drive-thru of your favorite restaurant.
End Cell Phone Calls
Recently, many McDonald’s restaurants have posted signs by their drive-thru order areas asking customers to end cell phone conversations before ordering. Speaker phone and Bluetooth capability has made cell phone use while driving acceptable and safer, and many customers focused on convenience talk on the phone while driving for this reason. A customer on a cell phone can confuse their own order or hold up other customers in the line.
For some reason, customers expect drive-thru to be faster simply because they don’t have to get out of the car. Depending on the line and the set up of the store, this may or many not hold true. Some McDonald’s locations are so efficient and well-known for their drive-thru service that they will have a line of cars all the way around the building, but only a few customers in line inside.
This assumption is particularly noticeable at banks. Customers usually expect a short to moderate wait inside a bank, but not in a drive-thru. If a customer is simply depositing a check, the transaction is usually quick-however, if one teller is handling two lanes and is already serving a customer with a complicated transaction, the simple deposit will take a bit longer due to the wait. Most banks now require picture identification for a withdrawal or transfer. If the teller doesn’t recognize a customer, he or she may ask for your picture identification for money bank from a deposit. This back-and-forth with the drive-thru tube often delays transactions for the necessity of security, and customers frequently become irate.
Many people also still assume that drive-thru speakers are scratchy and difficult for the employee inside to use. However, most establishments have clear and fully functional drive-thru equipment. Many drive-thrus also have cameras, allowing the employees to see you while you order. Unless you are asked to speak up, you do not have to shout at the drive-thru speaker.
Drive-thru set-ups are built to accommodate many different types of vehicles, from two-seater sports cars to Hummers and other large SUVs. Because one speaker must work for all vehicles, there are some special things to consider depending on your vehicle. If you have a truck with a diesel engine, it will most likely cover your voice while you order. This can lead to a shouting customer who doesn’t understand how the order was misconstrued. If you drive a diesel engine, it is best to turn the engine off when you arrive at the speaker. It is also polite to let the employee know when you are starting the truck again because the sound of an engine starting can damage the hearing of the employee wearing a headset on the other end.
Limit Large Orders
Extremely large orders via drive-thru is also considered impolite. This delays service for other customers in the store and drive-thru. Generally, if you have more than three or four people to feed, you should come inside with your large order if there are other cars in the drive-thru.
Same Service, In and Out
Most companies that have installed drive-thrus do so for your convenience. Recently, companies have improved drive-thru service overall. It is required that drive-thru customers receive equal service to counter customers, however it seems as though employees are not treated as well by drive-thru customers, who are particularly rushed, speaking on a cell phone, or otherwise pre-occupied.
As a courtesy, treat drive-thru employees just as you would treat them when you are in the store: end your cell phone conversations before approaching them, tip (or refrain from tipping) as you would at the counter, be friendly, and speak clearly. Convenience does not necessarily mean there should be a short or rude exchange between employee and customer.