Fast casual

Consumers prefer working with staff in QSR experience


Sept. 1, 2021

A majority of consumers still prefer working with staff versus automation in the QSR experience, according to a study from JLL company Big Red Rooster. The study assessed the QSR customer experience and states that employees as essential drivers of the brand experience, according to a press release.

When it comes to staff interaction consumers indicated they prefer the following :

  • 54% for navigating the menu.
  • 59%t for customizing orders.
  • 50% for paying for the order.
  • 63% for receiving the order.

Just 18% of consumers said incorporating technology to reduce reliance on employees would be one of the top three things brands can do to impact service.

Unsurprisingly, Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to prefer tech, with Gen Z preferring it most. In fact, the percentage of tech preference across the quick serve experience declines as age increases. Still, 40-50% of Gen Z prefer staff across all moments, according to the release.

“Even in the age of online ordering and curbside pickup, humans have a major impact on brand experience,” Emily Albright Miller, SVP of strategy at Big Red Rooster, said in the release. “As brands and operators look forward, they should consider how to leverage well-trained employees in key moments where human assistance can be reassuring, such as a custom order, or a moment of connection, such as presenting an order.

“Technology should absolutely be in the pipeline, but it’s not an immediate answer. So how do we strike that balance? What’s missing most is care. Just 25% of consumers rated QSR brands excellent in making them feel cared for as a guest on their recent visit. Above all, this reiterates the importance of human connection on brand experience.”

The survey also highlighted ways to make attentiveness and friendliness translate to a feeling of care. When asked to rank what would most impact fast food/QSR service, the following actions attained the most top-three rankings:

  • 52% said increasing the number of staff during peak traffic times.
  • 48% said increasing wages/pay for employees.
  • 45% said improved coaching/training for employees.
  • 42% said recognizing and rewarding outstanding service.

The study was conducted in partnership with ENGINE Insights and included a survey with 1,003 demographically representative U.S. adults 18 years of age and older. Brands included in this study represented multiple sectors of Fast Food/QSR and included: Chick-fil-A; Chipotle; Culver’s; Jack in the Box; Krispy Kreme; McDonald’s; Papa John’s; Starbucks and Taco Bell.



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