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The 5 benefits of AI that every restaurant operator needs to know

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Key Takeaways:

  • What is AI and how do businesses benefit from using it
  • The top 5 ways artificial intelligence solves everyday challenges
  • How AI technology improves restaurant operations and offers relief for overworked restaurant employees

While artificial intelligence (AI) is seen as emerging technology, the term was first introduced in 1950 by Alan Turing, who laid the groundwork for building and measuring intelligent machines. AI technology has come a long way since Turing’s basic principles were first described in his paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence and today the benefits of AI are transforming industries and shaping our everyday lives.

These rapid innovations in technology are becoming essential tools enhancing how we work and live. Here we’ll illustrate what AI is (and what it isn’t) and how it’s being used across industries today. We will also explain the benefits of artificial intelligence and how to integrate AI tools and solutions into your restaurant business.

What is artificial intelligence and how do businesses use it?

Benefits of AI: customer scanning a QR code using her phone

Artificial intelligence is a field of computer science encompassing everything from search engine algorithms to GPS navigation, automation, facial recognition and chatbots. AI makes it possible for technology to perform repetitive tasks that traditionally burden workers, reducing the workload of monotonous duties affecting businesses today.

Businesses can benefit from using tools like voice AI to solve complex problems through solutions like natural language processing (NLP). NLP extracts meaningful insights from textual data, enabling businesses to make smarter decisions and create more efficient systems. AI uses deep learning and machine learning to become smarter over time by processing real-time data, like what a guest orders at a restaurant. AI can then recognize patterns and trends and make future decisions based on that experience. For example, if most guests are adding on a new dessert from the menu, voice AI can learn to suggest that dessert when a diner finishes their order.

The use of AI can be seen in every industry from health care to cybersecurity. Hospitals are using AI to diagnose life-threatening conditions before doctors can spot symptoms with traditional methods. Cybersecurity uses AI tools to detect and stop fraud attempts before it’s too late. E-commerce companies like Amazon use AI to target ads based on customer buying habits. Through complex algorithms, Amazon analyzes users’ purchase history to deliver personalized recommendations of what to buy next.

More than being just fun novelties for technology lovers, AI and machine learning are enhancing and making life easier for workers as well. With AI taking care of monotonous tasks, employees can be more productive and face less stress during their shift. Instead of juggling repetitive duties, such as tending to a drive-thru line or taking orders over the phone, they can focus on food prep and helping walk-in guests while AI takes care of those day-to-day redundant and necessary tasks.

By freeing up team members from those monotonous tasks, AI helps many businesses keep their doors open, as they can reallocate their workers to higher-value tasks like food prep and order fulfillment, thereby increasing their productivity.

Businesses aren’t the only ones benefiting from AI. Artificial intelligence has become an integral part of consumers’ everyday lives. From cell phone facial recognition to digital assistants such as Siri or Alexa, AI systems are changing how we live.

In addition to all of these, here are the top five benefits of artificial intelligence helping businesses be more productive, efficient and profitable.

Top 5 benefits of voice AI

1. Enhanced guest experience

Guests’ expectation of fast and friendly service has always challenged restaurants dealing with staffing challenges. During the pandemic, guests have experienced longer waiting times and workers have felt more overwhelmed from being understaffed.

Voice AI steps in to assist understaffed restaurants to increase the speed of service for guests. With the ability to manage multiple orders being placed at the same time, guests experience shorter lines and hold times. A virtual ordering assistant can be available 24/7 to answer the phone, so a call or order never gets missed.

If a restaurant wants to deliver the best possible guest experience, it needs to know as much as it can about the guest. Point of sale (POS) systems and back-end reporting systems may be able to collect data on every transaction, but drawing insights from this information still requires someone with the time and analytical skills to do so.

Voice AI, however, uses machine learning to store information about each transaction. When an order is placed, it automatically retrieves insights from previous visits and predicts behavior based on prior interactions. AI pulls information and resources to analyze similar buying patterns and preferences to intuitively upsell the guest with personalized recommendations.

A research study done by McKinsey reports that a personalized customer experience has the potential to boost sales, lower marketing costs and create more loyal customers. The research finds that personalized offers result in:

  • 20% higher customer satisfaction
  • 10 – 15% increase in sales-conversion rates
  • 20 – 30% rise in employee engagement

Businesses with high customer satisfaction rates delivered three times the return to shareholders than those with low customer satisfaction.

The benefits of AI make it possible to target offers to the individual creating a more personalized experience. Businesses are able to meet guest expectations and generate more sales through a more engaged and loyal following.

2. Increased morale and productivity

Businesses that use AI see increased employee morale and overall productivity. With tasks like data entry or inputting information outsourced to a digital assistant, employees can engage in more complex duties that benefit both their desire for growth and the business’s need for new solutions.

By integrating AI tools into restaurants, it reduces the workload of repetitive tasks, allowing workers to take on new challenges, rotate between different skill sets and engage more purposefully in their work.

Since AI doesn’t experience boredom from repeating similar tasks, output won’t drop at the end of a long shift. This allows your workers to spend more time connecting with guests and less time interacting with screens.

An overwhelmed worker is more likely to make a mistake that disrupts the flow of serving guests. In a restaurant, the impact of one order going wrong can lead to a snowball effect that leaves many guests dissatisfied.

Voice AI applications have the capacity to process multiple orders at once without being overwhelmed or interrupted with other tasks. With a virtual ordering assistant, workers can focus on preparing orders and serving more guests, helping restaurants double their sales during peak hours.

The result is increased morale, retention and overall worker satisfaction, which directly correlate with better job performance, higher quality food and service and a boost in revenue.

3. Improved efficiency

Automation is nothing new to the food service industry. Manufacturers have been using automated technology to process and package food products for over a century, creating standardized quality while driving efficiency.

In recent years, the principles of automation for food service have expanded beyond manufacturing and into systems used by QSR and large restaurant groups to streamline business processes. For example, commissary kitchens were introduced to offload demanding prep work from individual stores while ensuring consistency, quality and controlled food costs. The result is improved operational efficiencies and increased top-line revenue.

The use of AI provides similar relief and results for restaurants, where efficiency means serving more guests and standardizing workflows, even with limited resources. With automated digital assistants, workers once stuck behind a register or assigned to wait by the phone can be put to better use by fulfilling orders or creating high-impact guest interactions. In some cases, staff can double their output during peak lunch and dinner hours, allowing restaurants to take advantage of these critical times for capturing sales.

Think of AI tools like an offsite production kitchen. As voice AI takes on time-consuming, monotonous and routine tasks such as inputting orders or answering the phone, workers are free to focus their time and energy on high-value duties. Workers are more productive and systems run more efficiently.

4. Minimized errors

AI reduces the chance of manual input errors by becoming the key point of data entry and processing (e.g., inputting guest orders accurately into a POS at the end of a long shift).

Artificial intelligence manages tedious and time-consuming tasks without the fatigue of performing the same function. It operates without interruptions, delivering a consistent experience to the customer and creating faster and more efficient workflows.

Voice AI is changing the ordering process for restaurants. With the power to handle repetitive tasks, conversations and interactions with guests, conversational AI is integrating into answering phones and drive-thrus with huge success.

Voice AI allows workers to be more attentive to high priorities. Before voice AI, some Domino’s staff reported they struggled to catch pizzas falling from their conveyor belt oven because they were multitasking with answering the phone. By implementing a virtual ordering assistant, workers were able to focus on fulfilling orders, and this same Domino’s store saw food costs decrease by 20%.

5. Instant data analysis

In the age of technology, collecting data is essential for a business to be successful. Valuable information provides insights on consumers and benefits businesses, but without a team of data scientists, that information likely goes unused.

Voice AI can process and analyze large amounts of data in a small amount of time. AI can identify customer preferences and buying patterns, analyze trends and produce recommendations that give advantages to both customers and businesses.

AI and machine learning are designed to grow and learn with every experience, building a broader database of information that provides valuable insights into guests’ purchasing behavior. AI processes data and instantly draws insights on a guest’s preferences based on previous transactions, then provides personalized recommendations and upsells based on patterns or trends.

The ways AI draws insights can aid restaurants beyond the individual transaction. Data retrieved from each experience helps restaurants in diagnosing potential issues or in forecasting trends, sales and revenue.

AI technology is the future of work

The challenges brought on by the pandemic have created a pivotal moment for the restaurant industry. Operators and owners of all sizes have faced issues from staffing shortages to difficult guest interactions caused by mandates and supply shortages, all slowing sales and challenging normal business operations.

AI tools such as voice AI offer restaurants the opportunity to create more sustainable working conditions for staff, a more tailored guest experience and more profitable growth despite the difficult climate the industry is in today.

The addition of artificial intelligence as digital coworkers into teams is creating opportunities for employees to find more meaningful and purposeful roles. AI technology like voice AI is giving hourly employees an opportunity to advance their skills with higher-level work experience while creating more growth and better business practices for restaurants.

The ways AI can support restaurant recovery are rapidly growing, and the advantages of artificial intelligence are proving to benefit businesses, workers and the customers they serve.

ConverseNow’s best-in-class voice AI provides cutting-edge digital ordering assistants for restaurants to automate their drive-thru and phone orders. More than 1,100 stores in 40 states are enjoying the benefits of voice AI with ConverseNow. Find out how ConverseNow can support your business by scheduling a demo.

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