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Is Two Better than One?

In today’s society we want everything better, faster, and more efficient than it once was. In fact, some of us want it cheaper as well. Even though we live in an environment of constant change and improvement, most of us have learned to adapt and even expect more than is even currently available. Pondering the idea of continuous improvement leads me to think of the drive through lanes at fast food restaurants. Have you noticed that many popular fast food franchises now offer the convenience of two drive-through lanes versus just one lane? In addition, many fast food restaurants also feature the use of two windows in the drive-through lane. One window is utilized for payment, while the other window is used to actually pick-up the food items ordered. Remember the days when it was common practice to simply use one lane and window to order, pay, and pick up the food while the other vehicles waited in a line behind? That memory is a distant cry from today’s vast improvements in service.

Expecting the Best and Delivering the Best

While it is true that customer expectations have skyrocketed compared to previous times, it is also important for me to point out how powerful continuous improvement can be when utilized and done effectively. Consider my fast food drive-through example from above, why would a fast food restaurant want to implement a two lane drive-through? An obvious and common assumption many people make is to assume that the business wants to make more money by moving customers through the drive-through faster, thus reducing the amount of people who will drive away to seek other fast food options due to long lines and wait times. However, the mindset of implementing a two lane drive through encompasses so much more than just that. It is actually more about process improvement to increase customer satisfaction. That’s right; it’s all about the customers! At the end of the day if a business does not have satisfied customers, they will not achieve success.

Benefits of Continuous Improvement

There will always be competition between businesses to deliver superior service and products; it’s simply just a drive towards continuous improvement. If competitors of a product all delivered the same product, at the same speed, with the same functions, for the same price, there would never be any improvement. Each business would take their “piece of the pie” as far as customers go and things would just sit still. How boring, my eyelids actually started to droop just writing that sentence. The fact is that change is crucial for improvement. Even if just one business strives for improvement and change, others will follow and a healthy desire for continuous improvement will be born. Going back to my previous example, fast food restaurants who chose to implement two drive-through lanes and two windows want to increase customer satisfaction through not just speed, but also through accuracy, cleanliness, and overall experience. Accuracy is improved because the order can be verified by the employee at the first window before it is delivered at the second. Furthermore, the employee does not risk confusion by having to take payments and deliver food. Cleanliness is improved because the employee accepting the payment at the first window touches money and credit cards and does not have to touch or pack the actual food. Lastly, overall customer satisfaction is improved because two separate customers can place orders at the same time in each lane, drive forward pay, drive forward grab the food and go. It’s unbelievable how efficient this process can be, many fast food drive-through lanes strive for a minute or less when it comes to wait times.

Mediocre is a thing of the past. Settling for mediocre in this day and age is like settling for a rotary phone while everyone else is using smartphones. So to answer the question, “Is two better than one?” Yes, when it comes to customer service in the fast food industry, two drive-through lanes is definitely better than one. Now the question is, “How can you implement the “two drive-through mindset” into your business improvements?”

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