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Digital Innovation is Transforming the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) Experience

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Wise Marketer Staff

Posted on May 9, 2024

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News that consumers are seeking convenience, speed, value and first-class service “in the moment” is more than a trend. It’s a cultural shift that has made its presence a permanent part of the consumer shopping experience. It’s known as the “convenience economy.”

The Quick Service Restaurant market is a $350 billion industry (Statista) that serves 84 million people daily who consume fast food (CDC). Thanks to 198,000 outlets across the country, Americans visit drive-thru lanes over six billion times a year and 60-70% of all fast-food sales come from the drive-thru channel. The average wait time in drive-thru lanes (DTR) is estimated at 5 minutes and 43 seconds.

The drive-through experience presents distinct challenges and issues that the industry needs to address including:

  • Customer frustration over drive-thru error rates, menu item customization mistakes, missing condiments, and incorrect orders.
  • Operational inefficiency, inconsistent food quality, and temperature when collected or delivered.
  • The reality of a transient workforce, often with lack of people skills and customer-first culture.
  • Safety, security, and drive-thru traffic improvements.

Now, The CMO Council and uKnomi are joining forces to improve the QSR experience in the drive-thru. The initiative will map, model, and validate the impact of a data-driven, AI-based QSR experience that uses digital innovation to personalize, expedite, and reward every customer drive-thru visit.

The vision for this project is based on combining individualized customer identity recognition technology with AI automation and enriched customer data insight to deliver business-building menu-marketing and customer value in the moment of service. The end-goal is to transform a business model that is perceived to be time-wasting, inefficient and impersonal.

The belief is that deployment of digital AI-driven identity innovation in drive-thru lanes will counter industry challenges with these powerful impacts:

  • Automate the gathering of individual customer knowledge at scale.
  • Leverage personal meal preferences and order history insights.
  • Prompt added-value, higher margin menu suggestions.
  • Acknowledge and reward frequent customer visits.

The CMO Council has announced it is teaming with tech innovator uKnomi, fast-casual restaurant marketers, and industry domain experts on ways AI-driven technology can uplift the consumer experience in the drive-through. uKnomi is an AI-driven, “marketing-in-the-moment” platform enabling chain restaurant operators to digitally transform how they recognize all customers in the drive-thru and empower service staff to deliver more personalized, predictable, and rewarding experiences.

This project invites industry participation. If you would like to get involved, share insights or otherwise contribute to this ongoing conversation, please contact Bryan DeRose (bderose@cmocoucil.org) at The CMO Council.