Momma Told Me: 5 Common Fast Food (Service) Mistakes: And How To Avoid + Handle Them!

Blog Archive

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

5 Common Fast Food (Service) Mistakes: And How To Avoid + Handle Them!

5 Common Fast Food (Service) Mistakes, and How to Avoid And Handle Them
Momma Told Me: You get what you pay for.

When I was growing up, visiting a fast food drive through, or sit down, was a treat. Momma was a stay-at-home mother and most often preferred to prepare our meals with her own hands than rely on those operating a fryer. However, more and more modern fast food chains are beginning to take cues from consumers who demand healthier options and modifications to traditional fast food offerings. With the emergence of whole chicken breast 'burger' substitutions, and widely popular side salad 'combo' options, more and more consumers are turning to fast food when they feel strapped for time. Whether you're a fast food junkie, or only stop in to indulge a craving now and then, there are a few things about fast food that seemed to have never changed; the service.
Let's run down a few common issues with fast food service; how to avoid them, and how to handle them:

Portion Size: In the early 2000s a shocking documentary was released bringing consumer attention to portion size and the fast food industry's enabling impact on modern obesity epidemics. As a result, 'extra' size upgrades that once cost a mere couple of coins left major chain menus, and greasy or fried side favorites actually increased in average price per serving. Since then consumers have become more discerning about the consistency of portioning in packages and presentation. Have you ever pulled out your fries, in two different sizes, and noted the portions looked almost identical (like the photo above?)

Many fried sides, such as french fries are often placed in open containers, and literally tossed into the bags or boxes the order is presented in. You may find half your french fries are actually residing on the bottom of the bag, rather than in the box. If you don't have a side by side comparison of portion sizes, it can be hard to present a case for under-portioning. Most employees are taught to tell consumers that the 'contents settle' or the packages 'expand' and portion appearance may vary from time to time. However, as the customer you have the right to satisfaction; simply hand the employee the offending side and ask them to scoop you a fresh one; more often than not they will deliberately overfill the container simply to see you satisfied.

Incorrect Orders: Even at the locations where I find I receive best service, I still have trouble with incorrect orders from time to time. As a consumer, unless you have worked the industry recently, it is easy to forget that there are many people working to get your order to you, quickly. The more people processing an order, naturally, the more opportunities for errors. To help avoid simple order mistakes always, ask the order taker to repeat your order back to you, double check your order immediately upon receipt, take note of repeated mistakes and emphasize your specific concerns at the time of ordering.
Drive-Thru Communication: This brings us directly to one of the number one frustrations with modern fast food convenience; the drive thru. An estimated 30% more errors occur on drive-thru orders, over in store counter orders. Naturally, the inconvenience feels all the more exaggerated when you were visiting a drive-thru for the 'convenience' of time and speed, in the first place. Communicating through the 'speaker box' system can contribute to many misheard order specifications; if there is no working digital screen displaying your current order request to place your order directly at the fist window manned by an employee.

Do not worry about the precious seconds of time building on the car waiting before you; when you receive your food take the extra moment to double check your order for all it's components, and any condiments, or even straws/napkins you may need. Many national chains are being instructed not to provide, or offer, even ketchup to a customer without prompt, and one of the most common left out fast food aids is the napkin!

General Service Complaints: A fast food restaurant generally does not have the motivation for good service a sit-down, or gratuity base establishment would. However, most major national chains do have internal rewards programs for good service and general performance targets (low waste, feedback card responses, average order time.) Many fast food issues are often a result of a single instance of poor team communication or a bad shift. As frustrating as an incorrect order can be, it often shouldn't call for you to speak with a manager or contact corporate.
In the instance that you experience poor service or accuracy/food quality on multiple visits, however, it is valuable to bring this to the attention to the management on staff directly. Try to remember that it is not a single individual's fault, but a myriad of mistakes resulting from several employees. Instead of listing specific instances point out key themes like 'my portions are often inconsistent,' 'my special orders usually come out wrong,' or 'I often wait longer than 5 minutes to receive my food.' If the instances continue to happen after speaking with management, communicate with the chain directly online. If you are clear that the instance has occurred on multiple occasions they will often send a regional or district manager in within 24 hours to assist with re-training and coaching to correct the mentioned problems.

Product Presentation: Lastly, many consumers feel that fast food is improperly portrayed in menu board photos and advertisements. Seeing a beautifully handcrafted, stacked, burger and receiving the  grease stained, smashed, wrapper is never ideal; but the reality of the nature of the business. If you are eating fast food, you should either assume the presentation will be haphazard, but compositionaly accurate to the product's description, or frequent establishments that spend the extra time in packaging to help preserve product continuity. In most cases this means ordering premium items that are served in more sturdy boxes.

What Daughter Says: Though the nature of 'fast food' is to be quick and frugal; it is still a business, and should be expected to run like one.


34 comments:

  1. I have learned my lesson about wrong orders the hard way many times. Now I check before driving away.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Portion sizes have got bigger I think when it comes to drinks. I like Fast Food and we eat it every now and again. Yes my order could get messed up here and there but for the most part I never have any trouble.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've learned all about portion sizes. I did a nutrition and exercise makeover for myself to lose weight and it's crazy how out of touch with reality I used to be.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I recently did McD's drive-through on the way back from a road trip - I asked for a burger, PLAIN, except for pickles. I got cheese on it (which I shouldn't eat / but don't like theirs anyway), had to go back IN to get it fixed and took an extra 10 minutes. Not quick at all.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think it's been years since I've had fast food. It's an hour and a half away for one thing and I just don't eat that way any longer. But these are great tips for people that do partake of it.

    I must admit to a certain love of McNuggets

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh you nailed it! All the issues we have with fast food right here!
    what bugs me is when they take FOREVER to get the order out (no cars in front of us and very few in the store itself) and an order that should only take 5 minutes max to get out takes 10 minutes and they Still mess up the order. Every stinking time. I've actually written to the manage a few times and when I was ignored there, to the company itself. That kind of service isn't ok.

    I've also been known to have people honk at me before; because I take that extra time to make sure my order is correct in the bags before driving away from the drive thru. But it's worth it to not have to come back or walk into the store to get it fixed.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I worked in a fast food restaurant and checking your food after getting it from the drive through is a must. With three people working in the drive through (usually) someone is bound to be a weak link. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  8. My husband gets so angry when the order is wrong. I have told him time and again to check the order before leaving.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I to have learned my lesson when it comes to getting a wrong order. We always check the bags before we leave now. Portion sizes are also important and making fast food a sometimes treat.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "It is still a business, and should be expected to run like one." What an on point comment.Fast food businesses need to be better run, for sure!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have to be adamant about checking before I leave the drive through. It is usually my kids orders that get messed up and they are the ones who do not react well.

    ReplyDelete
  12. It's always a good idea to double check your order after you get it! Too many times I've been shorted or come away with a completely different meal than I order.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I agree about portion sizes!! I prefer to order the kids meals when we hit fast food any more cause of how much food comes in the meals!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I try not to go out to fast food too often, but it's unavoidable with busy days sometimes. That being said, there are too many times where something is made incorrectly.

    ReplyDelete
  15. We always have a hard time with people giving us the wrong food, or leaving something out! We try to stay away from fast food now, if we go out to eat, we try to make it at a sit in place!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I check my orders before driving off. Your post is right on. I'll even wait for fresh fries if I have to.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I've never asked to speak to a manager over an incorrect order, and I never will. Those people have HARD jobs. I can't even imagine how many orders are thrown at them over the course of a shift.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I've only had one REALLY bad customer service experience at a fast food chain. It was 16 year old, emo kid with bad hair and a worse attitude... rotten kid.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Oh my gosh, I went to McD's today and had the WORST service ever with the most miserable people. I was so frustrated!!!!!!!! Also my large fry was hardly filled...its like playing the lottery when it comes to actual portion size here.

    ReplyDelete
  20. what a great post! I never thought about this. It's so hard not to get the value sizes.

    ReplyDelete
  21. We have one 'fast food' place here in Texas that is so flippin' slow... I mean really slow, we won't even go. HA!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Wrong orders are my pet peeve as well. I try to just stay clear of fast food places as much as possible.

    ReplyDelete
  23. OH MY Goodness!!! Today for breakfast I went through Burger King and asked for the oatmeal with "FRESH FRUIT". When I got home it was topped with craisins. Then later I ran through KFC And got an order of mashed potatoes for one son and chicken for the other. Got home...no potatoes. UGH!!!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I'm not big on fast food and I never have high expectations because I've hardly ever been satisfied. They almost always get my order wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  25. We don't keep the expectations high with fast food. But usually communication will solve those problems.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I always have issues with my orders. Thanks for the advice.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Ha, you nailed it! Food never looks the sam eon commercials, there could have been 5 fries in that box and drive thru mistakes are so common. Ugh, all a major pain!

    ReplyDelete
  28. It's beyond frustrating how the food doesn't look the same in ads as when you get it. I find it's actually worse with grocery store food though!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Incorrect orders is my biggest issues. Is it that hard to give me something the way I asked?!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I always check my order before leaving! I've been burnt before!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Mu husband absolutely refuses to "pull forward and park" to wait for an order at the drive through. It's always bugged be a bit, but I've found that he is correct. If you pull into the "waiting" parking space...that's exactly what you'll do. Wait and wait and wait and wait. It drives me crazy!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Portion sizes have definitely changed since I was a kid. I remember thinking fast food was a treat, not its more of a convenience.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Well, you certainly nailed all the issues I've had with them. Thanks for writing for those who are unaware of the way some of these restaurants operate.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I always check before I drive off. Too many times burned.

    ReplyDelete