Nearly 45% Of People Surveyed Believe This Fast-Food Restaurant Has The Best Drive-Thru Service

Have you ever wondered what happened to the long lines inside fast-food restaurants? If so, you're one of the few Americans who's not sitting in a drive-thru waiting for your food. Drive-thrus have been increasing in popularity for years, but the pandemic concerns amplified the trend. Between 60 and 80% of fast-food sales now come from drive-thru orders, per CNBC — it's a trend that doesn't seem to be letting up anytime soon. 

In 2018 and 2019, drive-thru sales accounted for around 65% of business at QSR locations. ("QSR" is short for Quick-Service Restaurants and includes both what people traditionally think of as "fast food" as well as places such as Starbucks and Subway.) In 2020, that figure rose to over 80%. While things have settled down since then, it's still not clear where the number will end up, per Franchise Times. When you consider how much money is spent on fast food overall, that constitutes some pretty massive traffic. The average American spends $1200 a year on quick-service orders annually, per QSR.

Managing drive-thru service courteously and efficiently — while also satisfying in-person customers — can be a tall order. And it inevitably puts a strain on workers, who needs to multi-task ever more efficiently to keep up with demand. So it's no surprise that the fast-food chain with the highest ratings for its drive-thru service is also the leader in customer satisfaction overall, per Business Insider.

Another win for Chick-fil-A

A Mashed poll of 599 U.S.-based customers found that 44.74% of respondents believe Chick-fil-A has "the best drive-thru service." Following Chick-fil-A, 25% of respondents listed McDonald's as their top choice, while 10.18% named Taco Bell and 7.01% named Wendy's.

And according to Statista, Chick-fil-A is a leader in QSR customer service; a whopping 83% of customers walk away satisfied with their experience at Chick-fil-A. Customer service has long been a hallmark of the brand, per Insider, and Chick-fil-A has taken pains to keep it that way, as the country pivoted from a dining-in to a takeout model over the past couple of years (per QRE Advisors).

One of the significant innovations Chick-fil-A has adopted to improve its drive-thru performance was the addition of numerous employees outside of the traditional queue zone. While most quick-service establishments have a single order station (complete with only-semi functional speakers) and a pick-up window, Chick-fil-A employs a full 60% of its staff outside of the line, acting almost like drive-thru waiters. This has simplified and streamlined the process for both customers and workers alike, and means that less time elapses between a customer driving into a drive-thru area and making contact with the famously-friendly Chick-fil-A staff. 

However you account for it, the Chick-fil-A formula is working, and — pandemic or no — the country shows no signs of slowing down in its efforts to "eat mor chikin."