To streamline the phase before customers arrive at the restaurant, tools like chatbots are being implemented. Many industries currently employ chatbots, and the restaurant industry is no exception. Modern chatbots are becoming increasingly diverse and intelligent, equipped with various capabilities that constantly evolve thanks to technology and data.
Chatbots, used as robots that interact with humans, are often employed to simplify tasks for users, in this case, restaurateurs. The use of these chatbots in the restaurant industry offers numerous advantages.
This use of chatbots takes place beforehand and can generate what we call leads. These chatbots have several functionalities accessible from the restaurant’s website or on a platform like Messenger, enabling faster assistance than the restaurant might provide.
Firstly, chatbots grant the business a degree of autonomy. Being available 24/7 when the restaurant is closed allows customers to perform various tasks, such as:
- Checking opening hours
- Finding the restaurant’s location
- Making or cancelling online reservations
- Viewing the menu
Beyond these features, chatbots can also be a marketing asset, as they enable the restaurant to stay connected and allow customers to engage in more dynamic communication since they are promptly attended to.
In cases where specific diets are offered in the establishment, such as vegan or vegetarian options, or when a customer wants information on ingredients and allergens, the chatbot can suggest dishes that do not contain restricted ingredients, which can significantly influence a customer’s decision.
Finally, some chatbots encourage customers to provide their email addresses to send them updates or ongoing offers. This data collection system enhances customer loyalty since targeted communication can encourage repeat visits.
The famous American fast-food chain Lee’s Famous Chicken has automated its drive-through services using artificial intelligence. During the pandemic, on-site orders decreased, and customers preferred either home delivery or drive-through options. Consequently, drive-through lanes were much busier than before, and employees were overwhelmed. To address this issue, artificial intelligence was implemented to automate drive-through services. This artificial intelligence was developed by the company Hi Auto with Intel technology.
This technology was initially deployed to assist staff in managing the drive-through while reducing employee stress, and it also aimed to increase the average order value for the restaurant.
This technological solution operates through voice recognition, welcoming customers, answering questions, suggesting items, and finally, processing payments. If artificial intelligence cannot answer a question, the staff can take over the conversation and provide answers.
This artificial intelligence is integrated directly into employees’ headsets, allowing employees to communicate with the artificial intelligence system by providing real-time inventory information.
In addition to taking orders, this artificial intelligence collects customer data and subsequently makes recommendations to new customers based on the previously collected data.
This innovation has also been adopted by McDonald’s and is expected to be launched in the coming months with the collaboration of IBM.