Just how important is order accuracy for restaurants?
Research has shown that accuracy is the single most important factor influencing customer satisfaction, especially at quick-service restaurants (source: MaritzCX). Over 200,000 customers indicated that those who received an accurate order were 5.6 times more likely to return to the restaurant than those who did not.
Due to the overwhelming importance of order accuracy, you might come to think that restaurant brands would prioritize this over everything else and ensure it is consistently the best-performing operational category.
However, that’s simply not the case.
According to Tattle’s guest satisfaction data – which is based on 1.3 million customer feedback surveys collected across 10,000 restaurant units – the guest satisfaction metric of “Order Accuracy” is behind many other key operational categories, such as hospitality, food quality, speed of service, ordering process, and more.
So, given that order accuracy plays a critical role in the satisfaction of a customer, how can restaurants improve their order accuracy and make it a priority across units?
Isolate Inaccurate Channels
The truth is, your accuracy satisfaction scores will vary depending on how customers order from you.
For example, take a look at the chart below, which plots the order accuracy satisfaction levels across all 10,000+ restaurant units using Tattle.
As you can see, dine-in order accuracy consistently performs at a high level, whereas other off-premise channels fluctuate wildly. In particular, delivery typically performs the worst when it comes to order accuracy, and both curbside and take-out orders see a slight decline over the last two years in this operational area. While drive-thru sees a slight increase in order accuracy, the huge fluctuations indicate that the accuracy isn’t consistent.
Therefore, it is important to first isolate ordering channels that tend to see the highest accuracy issues. This can be achieved with a feedback platform like Tattle, which measures omni-channel guest sentiment across on- and off-premise platforms.
Once you can identify the channel, you can then investigate whether certain processes or protocols are prone to accuracy issues. For example, you might discover that certain shifts/dayparts suffer from lower accuracy scores, which can be remedied with greater training and accountability of the particular team on staff at those times.
Here’s another example: For a build-to-order restaurant chain (such as a salad or sandwich bar), it’s more likely that the customer can see the order being made in front of them and can point out inaccuracies when they occur. However, guests who order through the delivery or pick-up channel do not have that opportunity. Implementing a “double-triple check” policy specifically for off-premise orders will ensure that each order is built to customization before they leave the door.
Identify Underlying Accuracy Issues
After identifying the problematic channel, the next step is to identify exactly what was causing the inaccuracies.
This is where you’ll need a causation-based survey that breaks down the underlying, actionable factors within each operational category.
For example, some Tattle partner restaurants break down “accuracy” into “add-ons”, “dietary requests / allergies”, “substitutions”, etc., and ask the guests to indicate what exactly went wrong.
This granular process helps the operations team narrow down the issue and tackle the problem with precision. Still other restaurants choose to break down “accuracy” into food categories, such as “entrees”, “appetizers”, “sides”, “drinks” and more. Either way, a broad category in “accuracy” is being broken down into its clearly-labeled parts, which ultimately helps uncover hidden inaccuracies and promotes actionable steps for your teams.
A real-world example comes from Blaze Pizza, a fast-growing build-you-own pizza chain. Using Tattle surveys, they realized that by better organizing their assembly stations – having toppings that tend to go together in closer proximity – the staff is less likely to forget about a particular ingredient, resulting in better execution and guest satisfaction.
With a single adjustment like this, along with other small operational optimizations, Blaze Pizza was able to achieve a much higher accuracy score across its units without having to re-train the staff at all.
Even Better, Identify Problematic Menu Items
The really exceptional restaurant operators will go one step further and isolate specific menu items that might be prone to order accuracy issues.
Of course, this would require you to have the right data — namely menu item level satisfaction data — to perform such a detailed analysis. Many leading restaurant brands are already collecting such data through Tattle, which prompts guests at the end of the standard survey to rate each individual item they ordered.
Some brands use this method to zoom in on items that they thought were among the best-sellers, but in fact suffer from high order inaccuracy. This could be either:
- A recipe issue, where the recipe is way too complex for store-level staff to replicate accurately each time at scale.
- An operational issue, where most locations could execute the item successfully, with the exception of a few locations that might not be implementing the right procedures or aren’t subject to close supervision
If it’s a recipe issue, it’s better to return to the culinary lab and refine the recipe so that it’s easier for employees to replicate with relative ease. However, if it’s an operational issue at only select units, it’s worth having the leadership team take a closer look at those units’ operational procedures and offer guidance.
But oftentimes, it’s simply not worth investing resources to keep a certain item on the menu.
This is especially true if those items bring in serious revenue, despite suffering from order accuracy issues. In this case, beware – because it could be generating minimal or even negative ROI on your marketing dollars. Ideally, you should divert marketing budget away from items that are prone to order inaccuracies, and towards items that you know your teams can execute successfully each time.
In those instances, evaluate whether to reduce your menu by removing problematic items, focusing on investing in the crowd favorites that maintain a high satisfaction rating.
In conclusion, ensuring higher order accuracy across your restaurant units is critical for the success of your business. Inaccurate orders can lead to financial losses, decreased customer satisfaction, and a damaged reputation. However, by utilizing data analysis and technology, restaurant operators can take proactive steps to improve order accuracy and streamline their operations.
Remember, order accuracy is the single most important factor influencing customer satisfaction in quick-service restaurants, and the third most important factor in full-service restaurants. By prioritizing accuracy and taking steps to improve it, your restaurant can stand out from the competition and establish a reputation for quality and consistency.