AI bots help bring relief to labor-strapped QSRs

Quick service restaurants, continuously looking for ways to improve service and stay on top of technology trends, are getting a little help from the friendly voices of George and Becky.

The duo, artificial intelligent voice-automated robots, greet customers, take orders and are helping increase sales at several big-brand QSRs, including Domino's Pizza. The bots can take orders over the phone for pickup or help customers choose items at digital drive-thru menu boards. George and Becky also help reduce the need for human employees, which has aided restaurants through the recent labor shortage. In addition, the technology has helped keep some restaurants from closing as many did after the onset of the pandemic.

Domino's Pizza began using the AI technology, designed by ConverseNow, in a pilot program in 2020. ConverseNow, an IT services and consulting firm based in Austin, Texas, took about 18 months to create, build and test the AI platform before it was ready to go to work. ConverseNow consulted with Samsung engineers, talked to many restaurant employees and designers, and immersed themselves in QSR operations to build the ideal AI platform. So far, George and Becky are pulling their weight.

The AI bots have helped restaurants increase same-store sales by 31%, raise average ticket costs by 25% and save about 90 hours of labor per store each month, according to ConverseNow. The bots are computer software based and do not take a physical form. Store managers can turn them on and off as they wish.

As of March, the ConverseNow bots have been used in more than 1,100 stores, logging plenty of conversations with customers. At Domino's, for instance, call-in customers can choose to speak to the automated service or wait to connect with a staff member.

Becky and George are designed with conversational and emotional intelligence to recreate natural conversations. They can use anonymized machine intelligence for real-time recommendations based on variables, including a customer's past orders, if the customer is willing to add to the order to increase upsells, time of day, weather and how busy the QSR is at time of order. They'll repeat the order back to the customers, similar to human employees, to ensure accuracy. The bots also can handle order changes.

For support, ConverseNow has partnered with OrderSolutions, a call center service, to make sure a human voice is standing by in case something goes wrong.

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