The two chains may be popular, but they’re not doing themselves any favors with their customers.
It happens to every customer who orders fast food from a drive-through or even a person at the register. You explicitly state your order — sometimes just a standard, run-of-the-mill, no changes order — and what you get does not even come close.
Maybe you wanted a Big Mac combo and somehow end up with Chicken McNuggets or maybe it’s something even harder to believe like your ordered everything the standard way and something (or maybe multiple things) gets left off your order.
This can be mildly frustrating if you discover it before leaving the store or its parking lot. Going in (or back in) to get your order corrected is a hassle and defeats the fast part of “fast food,” but it’s way better than getting home and realizing that something has been left out, replaced with something else, or was simply made wrong.
And, while Burger King once sang “hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us,” in a series of commercials, special orders open up a path to mistakes. Let’s say you say something relatively simple like “no mayo, no tomato,” on your burger, that can get messed up a number of ways.
First, the person taking your order can hear you wrong, or they can enter your changes incorrectly. And, even if that person gets things right, whoever actually makes your food has to both notice the change and fight the muscle memory of usually making the item the standard way.
Even if all that goes right, the person bagging your food has to put all the right items in and then someone has to make sure they hand you the right bag. It’s actually a lot of moving pieces making it somewhat impressive that we ever get what we order but, of course, mistakes happen and some chains get things wrong more often than others.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
These Chains Make the Most Drive-Through Mistakes
It’s worth noting that asking people about their experiences is not the same as keeping an actual record of those experiences. We can remember things wrong or let recent bias impact how we answer. It’s also possible that a fast-food chain we visit more often may actually make less mistakes on a percentage basis, but “feel” like it’s getting more things wrong because the total number of incorrect orders is higher (and most people remember negative experiences more then positive ones).
“A recent survey conducted by Mashed found that consumers believe one brand, in particular, messes up more than the rest. Out of 599 respondents, 181 people, or 30.22%, pegged McDonald’s as the fast-food chain that gets orders wrong the most,” the website shared.
McDonald’s, however, was most certainly not the only chain that the people surveyed named.
“For 22.54% of survey respondents, Taco Bell was seen as the chain that makes the most mistakes with orders, while 16.19% placed blame on Burger King. Fingers were also pointed at Wendy’s and Dunkin’, which received 13.19% and 11.35% of the vote, respectively,” Mashed added.
McDonald’s Knows This Is a Problem
People are imperfect. They can hear things wrong, enter orders incorrectly, or willfully decide to ignore something you say. The more you take people out of equation, the better chances you have with a fast-food chain, be it McDonald’s (MCD) – Get McDonald’s Corporation Report, Yum! Brands (YUM) – Get Yum! Brands Inc. Report Taco Bell, Restaurant Brands International’s (QSR) – Get Restaurant Brands International Inc. Report Burger King, or Wendy’s (WEN) – Get Wendy’s Company (The) Report.
That’s one of the reasons McDonald’s has invested heavily in its app and pushed franchisees to adopt its “Restaurant of the Future” model complete with ordering kiosks. Yes, the chain wants to automate to cut labor costs (and that’s why robots may someday make your burgers) but that’s not the only benefit of pushing people into ordering via an app or kiosk.
When people input an order electronically they can make sure they get exactly what they want without having to speak to a person. That eliminates one major point of the process when a mistake could be made. This won’t solve every problem, but it’s likely to make things a lot better for customers opting to use the technology.
Ultimately, that could make McDonald’s a leader in getting your order right instead of coming in last.