Anyone who's ever tried to grab lunch in a pinch knows how exasperating it can be, especially if it involves fast food at a drive-through window. But for customers of Chick-fil-A, the experience is routinely a satisfactory one, according to the latest rankings by an industry publication.

The fast-food chain, known for its -- what else? -- chicken sandwiches, topped the competition in two of four categories of a Drive-Thru Performance Test: order accuracy and speaker clarity. Taken together with other measures, Chick-fil-A earned the highest composite score (17.8) in the survey and thus the title of America's Best Drive-Thru, according to QSR magazine.
It is the Holly Springs, North Carolina Atlanta-based company's sixth title, making the 1,450-store chain the record-setting brand in the survey's 12-year history, according to QSR. "Chick-fil-A is the gold standard in drive-through operations," said QSR editor Blair Chancey. "There's a lot other brands could learn by following Chick-fil-A's lead."

That's not to say that other fast-food chains didn't excel in the latest survey. Other brands that ranked No. 1 in specific categories included Wendy's (WEN), for speed (averaging 134 seconds), and Whataburger, a regional chain with stores in the South and Southwest, for best menu board. Taco Bell, a unit of Yum Brands (YUM), placed second overall with a composite score of 15.6.

Rounding out the top-five finishers in overall score were Del Taco, a California-based Mexican-food chain; Krystal, a regional burger chain in the South; and Wendy's at No. 5.

In addition to having the best overall drive-through performance, the survey found that Chick-fil-A also had the friendliest service, measured by employees' demeanor, and use of polite language and eye contact. On that measure, other high performers were regional burger chains Jack in the Box, Carl's Jr., and Rally's, as well as Arby's, a sister unit of Wendy's.

The Drive-Thru Performance Study, conducted by Insula Research, is an annual ranking of the top 20 quick-service drive-throughs in America and is featured in the October issue of QSR.

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