Noted first by Starbucks enthusiast site owner Melody Overton, Starbucks has rolled out a trial run of video chat screens at franchise locations within the state of Washington. While visiting a Starbucks location in Burien, Overton noticed a large, vertical video display to the left of the main menu in the drive-thru lane. The screen has the ability to display a full-screen advertisement for specific Starbucks products. In addition, the display is used to show a video feed of the person taking the drive-thru order on the upper portion of the screen while continuing to display an advertisement on the lower portion of the screen.
Hypothetically, Starbucks could use the lower portion of the screen to visually display drinks or food included in the customer’s order as it’s being entered by the drive-thru attendant. It’s also possible that Starbucks has installed a camera to view the customer placing the order as well.
At the very least, the customer has a much better indication of the activity level within the store. Customers will be able to see if the attendant is happy, frustrated, confused or simply juggling several tasks at once. However, the drive-thru attendant will have to stay planted in front of the camera when the store is busy. Possibly an added benefit to employees, this personalized, friendly approach could increase the volume of tips for Starbucks employees when compared to traditional drive-thru service.
Starbucks hasn’t released a statement regarding a wider launch of the video displays, but the company is also testing the video chat displays in some Nevada locations according to Overton. If the video chat technology is successful in improving customer service as well as order accuracy at Starbucks, it’s highly possible that large fast food chains could adopt the same approach during the order process. However, the accelerated pace of fast food delivery at the drive-thru window may suffer if an employee has to stand at a fixed position rather than multitasking while using a wireless headset.