Voice AI-Powered Phone Ordering System
Jan 13, 2022
7 MIN READ

How Voice AI-Powered Phone Ordering is Revolutionizing To-Go Ordering

Fast-casual and take-out restaurants depend on customer service to encourage returning customers and build brand loyalty to maintain their small profit margins. While customers expect exceptional customer service and will quickly abandon a restaurant when their expectations are not met, restaurateurs are struggling with the challenges of training employees, growing labor shortages, and an increase in take-out orders due to the pandemic. As part of the uptick in take-out orders, restaurants are facing new challenges with phone ordering.

Phone orders are a huge source of revenue for fast-casual restaurants, with PYMNTS.com estimating that 67% of orders for them are placed over the phone or online, generating 75% of sales. With phone orders representing such a large portion of revenue for restaurants offering take-out, restaurant owners can scarcely afford to leave this important channel, even with employees who are undertrained, overstressed, and understaffed. 

Voice AI-powered phone ordering systems can help overcome the many challenges associated with providing consistent and first-rate customer service. When the voice interface is friendly and conversational and customers can get their orders taken quickly and accurately, customers will appreciate the convenience. Already, many quick-service restaurants (QSRs) have experienced success with voice-enabled drive-thrus and kiosks, and the trend is quickly moving to the fast-casual industry.

Here are 5 ways voice AI-powered phone ordering is revolutionizing fast-casual restaurants:

  1. Calls are answered promptly and personally
  2. Orders are recorded accurately
  3. Customers interact with a conversational voice assistant
  4. Restaurants experience operational efficiencies
  5. Simple and easy setup of phone ordering systems

Every call is answered promptly and personally

With a voice-enabled phone ordering system, restaurateurs never have to worry about a call being missed or answered late because employees are busy serving in-store customers. Every call is answered with speed and precision, so fast-casual restaurants never miss out on an order, and customers have a superior experience without frustration. 

Voice-powered phone ordering systems can also personalize phone calls to make customers feel heard, have quicker service, and reduce the need to repeat information. By recognizing the phone number of returning customers or creating a profile for loyal ones, a voice assistant can greet customers by their name, save their dietary preferences, and store frequently ordered meals. 

80% of respondents were more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences.

Single Grain

The benefits of personalized experiences extend beyond good customer service and also affect revenue and brand loyalty. A study by Single Grain discovered that 80% of respondents were more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences. By answering every call promptly and personally, voice-enabled phone ordering systems can elevate customer service standards and eliminate the frustration of being put on hold while the restaurant employee attends to customers in the store or other tasks, such as preparing food. 

Each order is recorded accurately

While most people know voice assistants for playing music, reporting the weather, telling the time, or answering questions like how many ounces are in a cup, voice AI is actually capable of tasks far beyond the most commonly asked questions and can exceed human capabilities. Voice assistants have the ability to analyze, cross-reference, and record vast amounts of information. For restaurateurs, this means that every order will be recorded accurately, ensuring customer satisfaction and reducing wasted food and time on misplaced orders.

64% of adults are interested in using voice AI to order food.

Voicebot.ai

Customers are also interested in the speed and accuracy of voice assistants. According to a study by Voicebot.ai, 64% of adults are interested in using voice AI to order food. Using a conversational voice interface, restaurant owners can take advantage of the growing familiarity and comfort with using voice assistants and avoid the food waste and cost of inaccurate order taking that often occurs in noisy restaurant environments or when employees are trying to multitask while taking orders.

A natural, conversational voice user interface

Voice assistants have come a long way from the early days of command and control use cases where users would have to memorize scripted responses in order to be understood. Platforms that provide advanced voice AI technology are creating natural, conversational interfaces that allow customers to interact with voice assistants just as they would with another human. The desire for alternative ordering methods is on the rise too, with PYMNTS.com reporting that 55% of customers prefer to place orders without interacting with a person.

55% of customers prefer to place orders without interacting with a person.

PYMNTS.com

The most advanced voice-enabled phone ordering systems are context-aware, meaning they can remember information stated earlier in the conversation, so customers don’t need to repeat themselves. With advanced technology, such as Natural Language Understanding (NLU), customers can also ask voice assistants for what they want, even if they don’t know what it is called on the menu.

Interested in learning more about the capabilities of a voice-powered phone ordering system for fast-casual restaurants? Check out the video below for an example of a voice assistant taking a phone order.  

Operational efficiencies

With voice assistants answering phone calls, employees can be freed up to focus on meal prep, seating customers, serving customers, or any other duties they may have in a restaurant offering take-out services. Redistributing the workload can also help with labor shortages and training. According to a poll by Business Insider and Alignable, 85% of restaurant owners said it was very difficult to find staff, even with 43% raising wages to recruit new workers.

85% of restaurant owners said it was very difficult to find staff, even with 43% raising wages to recruit new workers.

Business Insider and Alignable

Whether these restaurant labor shortages are due to the COVID-19 pandemic, wages, or other reasons remains unclear. Regardless of the reason, shortages remain a major challenge for the foodservice industry. In addition, a study by Voix.ai revealed that restaurants experience a $2,000 per month human cost of answering phone calls. With a voice assistant answering take-out orders, restaurants can save money while available staff can focus on other duties and have the time to provide the kind of exceptional customer service that fosters brand loyalty and encourages returning customers.

Restaurants experience a $2,000 per month human cost of answering phone calls.

Voix.ai

Simple and easy setup

With the existing complexities of training employees to answer phone orders, restaurateurs don’t have the time or the resources to find their own voice AI solution. Voice AI solutions designed with small restaurant needs in mind make it easy to uplevel customer support and improve phone ordering outcomes. Solutions that integrate with existing POS systems make installation easy and immediate—with instant payment systems built-in.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an influx in take-out and delivery orders—a trend that will continue even after the pandemic. A study by JD Power revealed that 71% of consumers said they would continue to order delivery as much as or more than they had during the pandemic. 

71% of consumers said they would continue to order delivery as much as or more than they had during the pandemic. 

JD Power

A voice assistant dedicated to taking phone orders serves as a convenient, low-cost way of innovating the take-out ordering model for fast-casual restaurants and those faced with a sudden influx of phone orders. With a voice assistant, restaurateurs can avoid the hassle of training employees, navigating labor shortages, and accommodating customers during peak times while enjoying the benefits of a full-time, always-on order taker.

Voice AI technology is revolutionizing the way to-go ordering operates with calls that are answered promptly and personally, orders that are recorded accurately, a conversational voice assistant, operational efficiencies, and simple and easy setup. As more customers call in, restaurant owners can benefit immediately from a voice AI telephone answering system before their customers turn to a competitor that can meet their needs. 

At SoundHound Inc., we have all the tools and expertise needed to create custom voice assistants and a consistent brand voice. Explore SoundHound’s independent voice AI platform at SoundHound.com and register for a free account here. Want to learn more? Talk to us about how we can help bring your voice strategy to life.

Kristen is a content writer with a passion for storytelling and marketing. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking, reading, and spending time with her nieces and nephew.

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