Despite the fact all restaurants are completely open for dine-in, after two years of closures and restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of dine-in patrons remains on the decline and more consumers are tapping the take-out option.
Just 25% of diners are more likely to use dine-in compared to last year and nearly half, 46%, are more likely to order takeout, according to a Presto Pulse of the Industry study which polled 243 U.S. restaurant customers. And 22% are less likely to place drive-thru orders compared to a year ago, according to a press release on the findings.
The survey revealed a continuing shift away from dine-in, overall consumer frustration with drive-thru quality of service and a strong positive attitude toward technology.
Of those polled, 70% want technologies such as AI voice assistants, personalized menus and smartphone apps to help alleviate the pain.
When asked about the quality of drive-thru experience, the vast majority, 77%, felt the situation is the same or worse than last year and a long wait time was identified as the biggest issue with 27% of respondents stating it has gotten significantly worse over the past year.
“In many drive-thrus it’s difficult to hear the person taking your order,” said one respondent in the survey. “This leads to frustration and inaccurate orders.” “Use technology to make the order process faster,” said another respondent. “We need a drive-thru with shorter wait times,” according to one respondent.
Yet a third of respondents felt technology could take away from some of the personalized service and may make the overall experience less personal.
Regarding drive-thru technologies, customers were the most comfortable with use of an AI voice assistant for faster ordering, personalized menus, customized suggestions and order/payment using a smartphone. Over 70% indicated they would be receptive to using one or more of these technologies in the drive-thru if they result in shorter wait times and more efficient service.