Voice-enabled quick service kiosk for QSRs

8 Reasons Why Voice Ordering Technology is on the Menu for QSRs

David Barry Headshot

Many QSRs adopted technology solutions during the pandemic as part of a broader trend in the restaurant business to confront ongoing labor challenges and still maintain strong customer service levels. 87% of all restaurant industry operators, owners or managers believe technology adoption has been critical for survival throughout COVID-19, according to Lightspeed’s “Global State of the Hospitality Industry” report. 

Voice AI is one of the technologies that QSRs are turning to. They are serving up voice assistants on their mobile apps, kiosks, drive-thrus, and drive-ins to make it easier than ever for customers to order their favorite meals. 

Data shows they’re investing in the right technology, too. According to Voicebot.ai, 64% of adults are interested in using voice AI to order food, and more than one-quarter of all U.S. consumers who own voice-activated devices have used them to place food orders. As the demand for touchless, fast, and accessible options continues to grow, quick service and fast casual restaurateurs are realizing the benefits of voice assistants for accurate and efficient food ordering.

Here are the top 8 reasons QSRs are implementing voice assistants in drive-thrus, drive-ins, and self-serve kiosks:

  1. Conversational interfaces
  2. Personalized voice experiences
  3. Greater hygiene
  4. Faster, more convenient customer service
  5. More accurate ordering
  6. Reduced operational costs
  7. Increased sales through upselling
  8. Consistent brand experiences 

1. Conversational interfaces 

The evolution of voice assistants has grown from only understanding simple commands and scripted questions to processing complex and multi-part queries, making for more natural, conversational interactions. In a study by Opus Research, 88% of leaders in the QSR industry considered being able to ask for things more naturally a top end-user benefit of voice AI

In the restaurant industry where long menus and frequent substitutions are the norm, voice user interfaces are faster and more innate than using a touch screen. Instead of engaging in a series of types and swipes to access menu items, customers can simply ask the voice assistant for what they want, the way they want it and have their selections ordered in seconds. Even if the customer doesn’t know where an item is on the menu or what it is called, they can add it to their order quickly with a voice assistant, eliminating frustration and increasing customer satisfaction.

2. Personalized voice experiences

Personalized experiences are a key element of voice interactions. A study by Single Grain discovered that 80% of respondents are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences. Voice assistants can personalize interactions by creating guest profiles to tailor the ordering experience for loyal and returning customers.

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

Single Grains

With a few words, the voice assistant can pull up past order histories so customers can request their favorite menu items quickly and efficiently. In addition, voice assistants can suggest similar dishes based on preferences and record dietary restrictions and allergies. A personalized experience makes the customer feel heard and recognized and increases customer loyalty—giving the business a substantive competitive advantage. 

3. Greater hygiene

Hygiene continues to be a concern of many customers post-pandemic. Providing access to food ordering through a voice assistant gives customers the security of a hands-free experience while creating greater operational efficiencies and cost savings for businesses. 

QSR leaders are responding to the demand for contactless interactions with voice-first strategies. According to the Opus Research Study, 85% of QSR leaders considered hands-free access as one of the top end-user benefits of voice AI. By giving customers a hygienic, hands-free option to order their favorite meals, QSRs are already realizing the benefits of increased customer satisfaction, Net Promoter Scores (NPS), and higher revenue.

4. Fast food made faster

In QSRs where “quick” is in the name of the industry, voice assistants are a natural addition to the food ordering menu. First, they reduce the amount of time employees spend taking orders—allowing for faster drive-thrus, shorter wait lines, and greater employee efficiency. Instead of taking the time to record orders, employees can focus on food preparation and customer service. A study by Hospitality Insights examined a QSR with a voice-enabled order-taking solution and discovered that they were able to increase drive-thru revenue by 10-20% due to their ability to decrease the time from the entrance of the drive-thru to the exit with a completed order.

[QSRs] were able to increase drive-thru revenue by 10-20% due to being able to serve cars at a faster rate than before. 

Hospitality Insights

According to a report by pymnts.com, 14% of consumers use voice assistants to order meals for delivery while they are driving, making for a great customer experience when the food arrives just as they do. Through voice-enabled apps, QSRs can give customers the ability to order meals quickly and conveniently while driving—without having to pull over to call in or submit an order. 

Extending the customer experience to mobile apps will not only satisfy consumers by providing faster service but also create an omnichannel experience that increases revenue and provides consistent branding. According to the Opus Research Survey, 92% of business leaders consider shorter customer service wait times a top end-user benefit of voice AI, making voice-enabled apps a direct way to increase revenue, customer satisfaction, and positive reviews. 

5. More accurate ordering

With the number of orders a QSR takes hourly, there are often mistakes made due to misunderstanding or incorrectly inputting the information. These errors can be costly over time and lead to customer complaints and negative reviews. According to QSR Magazine, up to 17% of drive-thru orders are incorrect due to employees inaccurately taking orders. Voice assistants, however, can eliminate the manual task and reduce errors, increasing revenue and customer satisfaction.

Up to 17% of drive-thru orders are incorrect due to employees inaccurately taking orders.

QSR Magazine

The same study that reviewed a QSR with voice assistants for speed of service, found that voice assistants increased the accuracy of orders, even during rush hour. By decreasing errors, QSRs can increase Net Promoter Scores, positive reviews, and customer loyalty. In addition, with the number of customer complaints reduced and the pressure of taking accurate orders removed, staff work in a less stressful environment, which boosts employee satisfaction and retention. 

6. Reduced operational cost

Like most service industries, QSRs’ operational costs are considerable. From keeping a full staff to stocking ingredients, many elements can lead to waste and inefficiencies. However, when voice assistants take on the responsibility of fulfilling orders, QSRs can reduce labor costs and operate with a specialized staff who are focused solely on food preparation and providing exceptional service. QSRs would also no longer need to train staff on how to take orders or buy the systems for doing so. 

In addition, many fast-casual restaurateurs struggle with the problem of throwing out a large amount of excess food every day. According to FoodPrint, restaurants and fast-food chains in the U.S. generate an estimated 22 to 33 billion pounds of food waste each year. Voice assistants can help by being used for timely inventory stocking, which would alleviate food waste, and can prioritize dishes with ingredients that are overstocked or close to expiring, reducing operational costs and the businesses’ environmental footprint.

7. Increased sales through upselling

QSR leaders are invested in increasing sales and voice assistants can help achieve their goal through upselling and increased order time. Forbes discovered that when using voice assistants to place orders, the average ticket increased by 20-40%, and a study by Intel found that voice-enabled kiosks boosted the average order size by 30-40%.

When using voice assistants to place orders, the average ticket increased by 20-40%.


This increase in price and order size can be attributed to upselling, where the voice assistant recommends add ons based on customer preferences and past order history. Not only does upselling generate more revenue through larger tickets, but it also adds value to the customer experience by recommending items they may have an interest in but hadn’t considered or seen on the lengthy menu. 

Larger order sizes could also be influenced by customers ordering through voice AI rather than a human, giving them more time to consider all their options and less pressure about ordering quickly. Whether it’s from providing value through upselling or decreasing ordering pressure, QSRs are realizing that voice assistants increase sales. 

8. Consistent brand experiences 

From branded cups and food wrappers to customized menus and uniforms, QSRs brand just about every aspect of their business, and they’re right to do so. A study by Small Biz Genius discovered that presenting a brand consistently across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%. The next logical step then would be to extend that brand messaging to voice assistants.

Presenting a brand consistently across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%.

Small Biz Genius

Instead of training employees to say welcome to the restaurant, voice assistants can integrate all vital company language into every interaction, making for a consistent, branded experience across locations. If there are any updates to the company’s brand messaging, voice assistants can be simultaneously and quickly uploaded with the new information as opposed to educating all employees across multiple stores on the changes over days or even weeks. By creating an omnichannel voice experience across drive-thrus, kiosks, and mobile apps, QSRs can further increase brand recognition, customer loyalty, and revenue. 

The trend of voice assistants in QSRs is growing. If your company hasn’t invested in voice technology yet, you may want to consider the benefits before customers turn to a voice-enabled competitor. Customers are looking for exceptional experiences when they eat out, drive-thru, or order in, and voice assistants can help deliver results. In the Opus Research Study, 94% of QSR leaders considered customer satisfaction and experience to be the top end-user benefits of voice AI. 

From natural interactions and personalized experiences to hygiene and quicker service, at the end of the day, the benefits of having voice-enabled customer interactions amount to more satisfied and loyal customers. Companies should be evaluating their voice strategies yesterday to stay ahead of the competition and keep their customers coming back for more tomorrow.

Recently, Opus Research published a research report based on a global survey of 320 business leaders in 8 industries conducted to get the pulse of the state of voice assistant implementation and the trends toward custom voice AI solutions. You can read the report in its entirety and see the on-demand webinar to learn, “The Business Value of Customized Voice Assistants”.

At SoundHound, 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 or speak with an expert or request a demo below. Want to learn more? Talk to us about how we can help bring your voice strategy to life.

David Barry Headshot

David Barry is a high-tech storyteller with a passion for communicating complex ideas simply. He met his wife in a taxicab in San Francisco.

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