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Success Story: Adding the Human Factor to Improve Curbside Restaurant Service

Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) are known for efficiently moving customers in and out of their buildings and drive-thrus. Today, online and app ordering with curbside pick-up have been added to the mix. Regardless of how guests order and receive their food, every QSR’s primary goal is to deliver hot, fresh food to diners with minimal disruption.

The Challenge

In this highly competitive category, QSR chains are trying to gain any advantage they can. Most think they’re on the cutting edge of best practices when it comes to integrating their digital experiences with curbside pick-up. The ExperienceBuilt Group is helping to validate this by looking for inconsistencies between their brand values and in-restaurant experiences that could hinder sales. An important step in the process is our ability to use real-time data and emotion scoring to map what guests value and what blocks their desired brand experience. We can uncover problems before they become barriers and provide specific, operationalized solutions. Mitigating these disconnects sets the stage for ongoing personalized experiences that increase affinity, growth, and competitive advantage.

The Experience Solution

On a recent project, LIVE’s approach started by stepping back to better understand all customer touchpoints end-to-end, beginning with initial contact in the ordering app, to curbside delivery from the crew member to how guests exit the parking lot. An example of the touchpoints we reviewed included the role of the actual parking lot logistics. After all, guests would be spending most of their time driving through or waiting in the restaurant parking lot in order to complete digital purchases.

Our proprietary Experience Framing System™ allows us to test and evaluate various concepts specified by our client and offer specific suggestions to enhance their experience strategy. Briefly, the system has three components:

  • Map - Define the current and desired end-to-end experiences

  • Measure - Design a customized plan to gather feedback using tools that enable more natural responses for improved honesty

  • Revise - Deliver practical, detailed operational plans that go beyond “what works and what doesn’t”

To get front row perspectives, EBG asked customers and employees directly what was happening using comprehension and usability sessions, focused one-on-one testing, and focused one-on-one interviews. We know from completing multiple projects in this space (and from being consumers ourselves), that:

  • Most guests stop using the app once they’ve placed their orders, which means that it can no longer function as a significant communications tool once they get to the restaurant

  • The presence, absence, and location of conspicuous signage, an expectation by guests, has a direct bearing on whether a guest has a positive experience with the QSR brand

The potential negative impact of these insights compelled us to recommend several operational possibilities to improve the guest experience. They are currently being pilot tested in select locations across the United States.

The LIVE Impact

Sound simple? Yes and no. By 2020 there will be 1.14 smartphones for every person in the U.S. which means that digital access will be largely mobile for the foreseeable future. (Forrester Research) The interface between technology and human interaction will become a critical consideration point in a customer’s overall experience, particularly for restaurants who face never-ending market competition. Companies who recognize the need to develop an experience strategy that feeds their brand strategy and connects them to a single person at every touchpoint will win.

One size doesn’t fit all. Our scalable Experience Framing System™ enables us to determine very specific research parameters and serves as a process summary to guide projects. We expertly define end-to-end experiences with planned staging, determine actions plans and gather feedback with authenticity, and deliver practical operational plans to make changes easy to implement.

To learn more about how we can help you improve your human/brand interactions to grow your business, please contact us


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