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The Drive-through Experience

This will be a very short one, I promise.

The world as we know it has evolved into an even faster paced one with no time to spare and the constant need for comfort. Drive-throughs have become my thing now. Why walk in, when you can drive through!

On one of the overly busy Fridays, I forgot to eat. By close of work, I was famished and could not bring myself to walk into a restaurant for a quick meal. My obvious choice was to get some chicken khebab from a favourite joint, knowing very well it’d be ready within a few minutes. Remember how I forgot to eat? Well, we forgot to stop at the khebab joint and realized when it was too late to turn back.

After a few minutes, we decided on getting a meal pack from a drive through along the way. Being a typical Friday night, it was packed with cars probably having our same exact thoughts. I hate waiting but it was inevitable looking at the time. We waited our turn only to get to the ordering point and notice the speakers were not working.

We drove to the next point to order and pay. We saw one of the staff walk up to us. I assumed she wanted to manage the queue.

The moment she saw our debit card pulled out, she blurted that the POS device was not working.  She stated this as a matter of fact, no apology, no empathy, just a fact that we need to understand and move on. She added that we would have to go withdraw the cash and come back to her to pay. My partner asked if she meant drive back and she casually responded no. The plan was for him to park the car and walk to her to pay. The drive through- the convenient option and now this.

I was fuming at this point but knowing I often overreact in these cases, I stayed quiet.

My partner asked she hands over our order to her colleague attendant at the front end of the eatery instead. That would have allowed us to pick the food up directly from the front counter after taking out cash, an easier option to walking back to her cubicle. Let me add that, he suggested this because he’d had a similar experience at the same place and this worked fine then. It saves us the long inconvenient walk.

Our now very irritated attendant said an outright no even after my partner stated that we were the ones being inconvenienced. She must have said something else but at that point, I was livid and found the words rolling out of my mouth. I am sure my voice was raised while pointing out to her that she didn’t even feel the need to apologize or empathize with us about the inconvenience. She could immediately tell I might be difficult and silently took our order and on we drove to the next stop.

It was at this point that I decided I wouldn’t eat that meal. It would just not go down well. We drove off leaving the order unpaid for. Suffice to say that would be our last visit to the place.

Fast forward to Saturday during my hair care routine, the entire scenario kept playing in my mind. What should be the drive through experience? Is there a CX professional managing the experience at the drive through?

If there is someone in charge of the Customer Experience at the drive-through, what’s the expectation? Who’s monitoring platform uptime, tracking customer effort, reviewing the analytics and coming up with ways to ensure the experience blueprint was being executed?

Come to think of it, in all my drive through moments, I’ve never had anyone reach out for feedback. I’ve never seen feedback smiley buttons around. Is there a way, customer feedback can be collected regularly? I checked this brand’s website and the number there was a landline – not toll free, no live chat, no whatsapp option nothing else.

At the bottom of the Customer Experience Pyramid is ‘Meets Needs’. With this experience, was my need met? Perhaps if I had been patient, gotten out of the car, used an ATM to withdraw and walked back to the pickup point to pay and pick up, I guess I would have accomplished my goal. Even if that were so, the experience was certainly not easy and the next level on the pyramid was not met in the least bit, not to talk of the final stage which is ‘Enjoyable’.

As CX professionals, it feels good to finally have some light shed on our work, be able to fraternize with each other and have access to so much information that it already feels like we have achieved a lot…No! We are far from that point. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. There must be accountability. Businesses must be made to adhere to CX standards and not treat it as an afterthought (something I know a lot of CX Professionals battle with constantly). When I talk about CX standards, I mean actual CX: not the occasional tick the box and tell customers we have you in mind without curating the best experience at ALL touch points.

We must unite and fight this good fight. We cannot relent. We must have experts in the different aspects of Customer Experience all curating experience for the Ghanaian (or specific country’s) community.

The change we want, no the change we need, starts from here. If we get the basics right, it will permeate through everything and everyone will be held accountable.

It will be long, difficult and emotionally draining but very necessary. We may not even get to experience the full benefits of this change but our kids might.

This is the very reason why the passion has been placed in us. We are at this very point because of this change. Stand and be counted. We have work to do!

P.S If you were to redesign the drive through experience, what would you do differently? Please share with me in the comments.

I said this would be very short, did I achieve that? lol

Yvonne Quashie

CX Head,  UBA

National Organizer, CXP Ghana

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  1. Great piece, possibly for us to make that change we must start calling such establishments out by name to confront them with the stark reality of their customers’ experiences. I believe management of such establishments who are concerned about their bottom line will take an interest and take action.

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