Mar 25, 2024

Revolution at the Drive-Thru: 11 Takeaways From White Castle’s AI Journey (On-Demand Webinar)

White Castle is one of the first fast-food chains to deploy an AI voice assistant, which it named Julia, in its drive-thrus (10 have already been deployed, 100 more are planned by the end of 2024). As an innovator and early adopter, what did they learn from the experience?

Jamie Richardson, White Castle’s VP of Marketing & Public Relations, recently joined SoundHound’s Head of Channel Partnerships, Mike Lauricella, and SoundHound’s Director of Communications, Fiona McEvoy, to discuss the challenges, learnings, and accomplishments.

You can listen to the full webinar recording here.

Here are 11 takeaways:

Jamie: We didn’t realize initially how many different ways people order sliders. Turns out there were 72 ways to order the #1 Combo at White Castle, and Julia knows all of them. Julia learns quickly and adjusts. 

Mike: As Julia learns, we have consistently seen the White Castle order completion rates increase, and now reaches 90% and higher (no human involvement needed), and accuracy rates continue to go up as well. 

Jamie:  In the last year we’ve actually seen our friendliness scores across all White Castle locations increase 14% from where they were a year ago. If you can order quicker, have more accuracy, and better customer engagement, that’s a big win.

Keyvan Mohajer

“Turns out there were 72 ways to order the #1 Combo at White Castle, and Julia knows all of them. Julia learns quickly and adjusts..”

Jamie Richardson
White Castle’s VP of Marketing & Public Relations

Mike: In the QSR space, employee churn is a huge challenge. And I would argue that every quick service restaurant in the country right now has open job reqs. So it’s not that AI is taking jobs away, it is how do we enable these people to get more done more quickly.

Jamie: We not only take the time to train our employees before we go live, our top leaders show up at every install and they talk with the team members. We let them know that this new direction is coming from operations members who are greeting the customer each and every day and responding to their concerns.

Mike: White Castle wanted Julia to be personal, but the more Julia talks, the more time that takes in the drive -thru and speed is important. So the White Castle team has been really innovative about when and how Julia interacts,  being sure she is personal but also focusing on speed. 

Mike: Upsell is a balance: do you upsell visually on the beautiful 55 -inch Samsung screen?  Do you just show a brownie on a stick to the customer?  Or do you upsell verbally?

 If Julia is upselling, we want it to fit with the order, we want it to fit for what the person is really looking for.  

Jamie: Julia has steadily improved and the 90% or better order completion rate is a differentiator.

Which means we don’t need a team member to jump in at any step of the process. So there’s nobody listening in, there aren’t three people auditing Julia as the order is taken. 

Jamie: The real exclamation point to me is that the average order time is 60 seconds or less. And that is better than we were before, and it’s faster for the customer. 

Mike:  If you’re thinking about implementing AI in the drive-thru, keep in mind that there are going to be iterations and you need time to test and adjust. 

And there are investments with audio equipment, signage, the order completion board, and it’s got to be in the right place.  

And collaboration with the voice AI vendor is really important.  

Jamie: Two things are really clear:  This kind of technology is here to stay and it’s gonna continue to evolve. And we’re all learning with it all of the time. And seeing results.

Watch the Full On-Demand Webinar

Get the in-depth discussions about all of these key insights by watching the full on-demand webinar.

Speak to an Expert.

Interested in Learning More?

Subscribe today to stay informed and get regular updates from SoundHound Inc.

Subscription Form Horizontal