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Following Twitter Complaints, McDonald's Is Adding A Third Drive-Thru Window

The fast-food chain will start adding an extra window to locations next year.

Fast food is supposed to be fast. Apparently, the McDonald's drive-thru wasn't fast enough, and disgruntled customers were taking to Twitter with their complaints. So now, McDonald's is adding a third window to speed things up a bit. There, are you happy?

The "Fast Forward Drive-Thru" will start appearing at McDonald's restaurants next year. Lisa McComb, a spokeswoman speaking on behalf of the company, tells Bloomberg the improvement will enable "customers to pull forward to receive orders at a third window when their order is not yet ready." The process then frees up another window, so customers whose orders are ready can get it and go.

It takes approximately 189 seconds to get through the McDonald's drive-thru, Bloomberg notes. That's longer than the wait at both Taco Bell and Wendy's, and customers aren't happy about it:

Considering that a staggering 70% of McDonald's sales come from the drive-thru, the new window is the company's attempt at ensuring swifter and more efficient transactions.

[Image: Flickr via user Muhammad Ashiq]

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  • Jesse B.

    There are a couple of McDonald's in Maryland where they had a third window that was eventually bricked over. Having a third window isn't the solution if you do not actually staff it.

  • MLS

    10 or 15 years ago McDonald's experimented with a different three-window strategy: order, pay, and pick-up. The widespread adoption of intercom-based ordering with summary screens eliminated the need for one of the windows and many were bricked over.

  • Jesse B.

    They need a fourth window where you can have everything that is wrong with your order corrected.

  • Mad Max

    You know, if you get out of your car and walk into the store you can place you order and receive your food faster than anyone. All you have to do is get off your butt

  • Robert Carter

    I can't see why this is even a problem - talk about divas!
    We are getting pretty crazy when 189 seconds, or even 5 minutes is just too long for you to wait to stuff your face... dang people are spoiled.

  • @KizmitSolutions

    I can't see how this idea will provide a solution to the problem. Ignoring the infrastructure costs, i doubt it will do more than shave a couple of percentage points off the waiting time (if that); not enough to make a difference in the customers minds. When there are three windows, people who want to buy one sandwich will see a long line and think the exact same thing as they do with the current windows.

    How about this:

    Make an app where you can order off your phone. This will allow workers to focus on efficiency and eliminate the time wasted when taking a customers order. Also, people don't have to wait in line and go through that horrible process. Instead, they can wait in a parking spot and gps can be used to locate the customer/bring the food to them. When they order, "expected waiting time" will be shown which takes into account all orders in front of them. Give people a tiny discount if they run in and pick up the food (or hire runners exclusively for bringing food out). I'd imagine people would be happier ordering off their phones, especially if they order the same thing over and over.

    Smartphones were invented for a reason. Use them.

  • iamhungry

    Sure if you look at averages it won't change much but this is an escape valve to stop those infrequent bad experiences.

    They know that with social media 1 disgruntled customer can tell 100s or 1000s of people. So even improving a handful of customers experience will greatly reduce the negative grumbling on social media.

    Your solution adds a whole lot of process change whereas McDs solution is just a slight variation allowing them to keep their cookie-cutter processes in place.

  • @KizmitSolutions

    I admit I do have expensive taste :P

    Imagine someone reading on Twitter someone saying:

    "Sweet! Ordered my McD's on the way there, sat in a parking space for a minute, then someone came out and handed me my order! It's like magic!"

    Seems like some influence potential. I guess my point is you're not trying to do damage control, but rather view this as an opportunity to get ahead of the competition who faces similar problems.

    There are also other benefits of adding such a process. I could probably write an essay on this but to make it short:

    1. Mobile strategy is becoming more and more important. I looked at reviews of McD's mobile apps, and the overwhelming verdict was that the app is cheap looking (and performing), especially for someone McD's size. They obviously do't take it seriously right now.

    2. Personalization. The ability to "individualize" ones smartphone experience can lead to faster inputs/a better customer experience. Think predictive analytics. If my McD's app knows that I order the same thing 100% of the time, it could recognize this and automatically ask me if I want to order that as soon as I open the app.

    3. Data. Implementing such a strategy leads to tons of data that can and will be used to drive decision making in the future.