Conversational AI and Fast-Food Drive-Throughs

Everyone loves the convenience of ordering from a fast-food restaurant, even more so if there’s a drive-through. Certain chains seem to have perfected and elevated the drive-through process by assigning multiple employees to stand outside and take orders. It might seem impossible to further streamline the modern drive-through, but conversational AI technology is being developed that accomplishes just that. 

Conversational AI, technology that enables customers to have full conversations with a machine with ease, can be integrated with a drive-through and can take orders, suggest alternative menu items if an item is unavailable, greet customers, and instruct them to move up to pay at the pickup window. They can also be designed to upsell at high rates and answer questions, even those about menu items’ nutritional valueAll of these features ultimately increase overall customer satisfaction and bring in more revenue. 

Demand for employment in fast-food establishments has decreased over the years, but the number of jobs has rapidly increased since 2010. With fewer teenagers willing to work and stricter immigration enforcement, labor shortages are becoming more prevalent in the fast-food industry. There is also a high turnover rate for fast-food jobs, which can fall between 130 percent to 150 percent. AI technology can offset this labor shortage. Unlike employees who can call in sick or cannot work during holidays, the AI will always be there and can help understaffed establishments. 

Are you ever unsure if the drive-through employee heard your order? Conversational AI limits miscommunication and errors. Additionally, the high employee turnover rate has caused the average speed-of-service time to increase. Conversational AI hears the customer well and can easily change orders, both helping with order accuracy. Order speed is also improved, as AI can control multiple drive-through lanes and move at a consistent speed regardless of order volume. The drive-through becomes less of a hassle for the employees, only having to take care of food preparation and payments. 

Compared to casual dining, customers have less satisfaction with fast food, and if they have a bad experience, 35 percent of them will not return. Customers could have bad experiences by interacting with disgruntled employees, experiencing slow service, or receiving the wrong food. Understandably, employees might get tired of enthusiastically taking so many orders or filling too many roles in the drive-through process. Conversational AI never gets tired and is always friendlyprofessional, and accurate 

There are undeniable issues with the fast-food industry, and there’s no doubt that new conversational AI will revolutionize these operations.