Covid-19, Changing Customer Behavior and Role of AI in Restaurants

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has already paralyzed our daily lives. As people are re-adjusting their lifestyle from buying daily essentials in-store to shopping online, businesses are also re-calibrating their processes to this changing consumer behavior. In the QSR industry, as more people choose to stay home, increase social distancing, carryout and request delivery, it means they are placing more phone orders and drive thru orders to restaurants that are struggling to have enough staff to handle this shift in social behavior and related volume. This situation is forcing QSRs to rethink their channel strategy for ordering and redesign the in-store customer experience. ConverseNow believes that the off-premise ordering will continue to rise, restaurants will add more drive-thrus, assess their dependency on aggregators, third party deliveries, improve in-store technology and customer experience, hygiene and safety. Another important lesson for QSRs to learn is how to manage the peak demand of resources without risking employee health and wellness.

AI will play a big role in the new scheme of things as it can help QSRs by providing a “digital employee” who can take some load off of human employees at peak times, taking orders while human employees focus on preparing and turning orders to runners for quick delivery.

Timing is Everything

Every second matters in QSR drive thrus. A potential customer will most probably drive away when there is a long queue of held up vehicles. With AI, the digital associate like “Emma” from ConverseNow will carry on a discussion with the customer, while the workers in the kitchen are simultaneously preparing the order to go. By the time the customer leaves the drive-thru speaker and pulls up to the pick-up window, the representative is now able to hand over the fulfilled order. Likewise, in busy pizza and fast casual restaurants, AI based digital associates like Emma can take the orders without missing any calls during peak times.

Customer Experience is Key

With more orders placed and more discussions with customers, AI enhanced by machine learning can recall customer inclinations and settle on the best choice about which food to promote in future visits. Customers can now be spared the monotonous bombardment of upselling that has little or no perspective to their individual ordering behavior and preferences. ConverseNow’s voice-ordering associate, Emma, uses sentiment analysis to determine the potential upsell customer candidate, remembering the customer’s previous orders and favorite orders to optimize the up-sell or up-size opportunities.

Digital Employees Can Boost Morale

Having an enjoyable and comfortable customer experience at a QSR drive thru often depends on the courtesy and professionalism of employees. In order to deliver the best customer experience every time, when a new employee joins, he or she needs to be trained on the QSR menu specs, service standards, and policies of a brand. Due to high attrition, reinforcing the same standards across all QSRs is an ongoing issue. An Artificial Intelligence voice-ordering associate will never sound irritated, tired or drained and never quit in the middle of a shift. ConverseNow’s voice-ordering associate, Emma, learns from real-time customer conversations, ensuring that it provides a progressively reliable, pleasant and consistent customer experience. With AI voice-ordering associates like Emma constantly getting better at understanding customer sentiment, a delightful drive thru ordering experience is possible with every order.

AI is Your Digital Trainer

Digital Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) or AI Voice-Ordering Assistants learn from live customer-operator ordering interactions and only need to listen for specific questions, words or phrases to fulfill an order. This is in stark contrast to a human employee, who will have to comprehend everything that is being conveyed in an order. Emma can be effortlessly trained on every menu item, with the ability to instantaneously access inventory and review updates. An individual customer’s drive thru ordering experience can also be enhanced with AI synchronizing the order through videos, photos, ingredients, and nutritional information. Using deep data analytics, AI constantly tracks employee performance, which can be used for training and onboarding.

ConverseNow’s voice ordering associate, Emma, is currently serving customers in some of America’s finest QSRs and helping them improve customer experience, save money, increase order size. Say, “Hello” to Emma.

References:

How AI Can Solve Fast-Food Labor Problems, QSR Magazine