The QSR industry is entering a new and exciting era – encompassing all things digital.
With a surge in drive-thru ordering, QSRs are facing a perfect storm of high expectations, and they’re turning to tech for help. Digitization is helping pour water on this problem by introducing QSRs to the power of automation. Why spend money and resources on labor-intensive order taking when AI can do the job for you?
Although this idea would’ve been unbelievable once upon a time, automation is now firmly rooted in QSRs’ processes. Back in the 1920s, the mere invention of the drive-thru was new and innovative. Now, 100 years later, as much as 20% of all meals are eaten in cars, creating an irresistible mix of efficiency, speed, and convenience.
As the tech offerings continue to advance, we’ll be exploring how you can implement automation into your order-taking processes so you can overcome key business challenges.
What is Automated Order Taking?
According to movies, QSR ordering consists of 3 things: bubblegum-blowing teenagers, old Chevys, and extra fries. But real-life order-taking isn’t like Hollywood’s depiction.
Nowadays, automation is the star of the show. Automated order-taking is technology, software, or systems that take orders through a series of automated responses. Not only does this improve the speed and efficiency of order taking, but it can also lead to better quality service because automation guarantees consistency of every order – 24/7, 365 days a year.
A popular example of automated order-taking is voice ordering at the drive-thru. Like Hi Auto’s conversational AI system, Auto uses natural language processing and accurate voice recognition to automate and optimize order taking. This allows QSRs to capture more orders more quickly and with more accuracy.
What are the benefits of Automated Order Taking?
Everyone else is doing it, but should you? Here are five reasons why automated order taking can be beneficial for QSRs.
Stay ahead of the curve
Voice technology isn’t just the next big trend for the food service industry – its popularity has already been proven. 50% of all internet searches are voice-enabled, and 37%of QSRs believe that new technology like voice tech is key for their business.
A Solution to High Labor Costs
50% of food service businesses plan to deploy automation technology in the next 2-3 years to tackle high labor costs. This comes as the quit rate among hospitality workers has reached 6.8%, which is more than double the national average.
Consistent Customer Experience
Inaccuracies account for 15% of all orders, and more wrong orders mean longer wait times – which doesn’t bode well when 58% of customers have higher customer service expectations than they did a year ago. Automation solutions, such as Auto, have accuracy rates as high as 94%, helping you deliver consistent and correct customer service.
Boosts Your Upselling
Upselling has the potential to increase sales by 10%-30%, so why do only 4% of employees attempt an upsell? There are several reasons, but failing to upsell could affect your bottom line. In contrast, voice ordering AI offers an upsell 70% of the time.
Reduce Food Waste
Up to 10% of the food purchased by the food service industry becomes kitchen waste before reaching the consumer. Automated order taking captures data on the day’s orders, so you can see exactly what inventory you need and help cut down on food waste. Take a look at our recent blog to learn how voice ordering can help you monitor your inventory.
5 Steps to Success with Automated Order Taking
With new cutting-edge digital technologies available to the QSR industry, automation can be applied to multiple stages of the order-taking process. We’re breaking down exactly where, when, and how you can implement new technologies to optimize your service.
1. Adopt AI Technology for Better Accuracy
The global AI market is set to grow to $190.61 billion by 2025 – how can the QSR industry benefit from this? Well, AI technology can help QSRs keep up with increasing demand by improving the efficiency of their processes. From voice tech at the drive-thru to staff scheduling software and automated food preparation technology, AI can be implemented across all business areas to improve service and efficiency.
AI technology can often be customized to the needs of individual restaurants, so you can ensure a consistent customer experience, no matter how busy your restaurant is.
When accuracy comes into question, AI has a much better record than humans. Tell AI to do a job and it will repeat the process flawlessly a million times over. Tell a human to do a job and accidental errors or shortcuts may be involved. That’s why AI-powered voice tech is proving so popular at the drive-thru – it is capable of human-like interactions with exceptional accuracy.
2. Upselling At the Forefront
Not only can conversational AI help improve the speed and accuracy of your ordering, but it can also help improve your bottom line by capturing more upsell opportunities. With so much activity at the drive-thru lanes, employees might have moments of forgetfulness or shyness and miss out on uttering that crucial upsell sentence.
Upsells are 68% more affordable than acquiring a new customer, which is why solutions like Auto have been designed to increase order value using our built-in upselling playbook.
In our recent case study, employees took on 1,088 orders and attempted upsells 52 times, which converted into nine successful sales. At the same time, Auto handled over 4,000 orders and attempted upsells in 76% of cases, resulting in an average ticket increase of 10%.
3. Optimizing The Workforce
48% of global operators report struggling to retain staff during the pandemic. But staff shortages are not the only consequence of poor retention – labor expenses make up a huge 30% of QSRs’ revenue and can cost businesses as much as $3,000 to replace one employee. Ouch.
And the hospitality industry’s 73% annual employee turnover rate isn’t the only issue. Coupled with the US labor shortage, QSRs are struggling to find the staff they need to run at maximum efficiency and capacity.
Where you’re lacking staff, AI can fill in the gaps. Ordering is one of the most time-consuming jobs for employees. Rather than stretching your labor resources and time thin at the drive-thru, voice tech can greet customers, take orders, and offer upsells. This means you can redirect your staff to more important tasks and save on labor costs, recruitment and turnover.
4. A Seamless Window to Kitchen Communication
Great QSRs are a well-oiled machine. From order taking to food preparation, technology can help ensure seamless integration between all the moving parts of a restaurant.
Some voice ordering solutions, like Auto, can easily integrate with existing POS (point of sale) systems. This creates a two-way conversation between the order window and the kitchen, so you can keep your restaurants running consistently and efficiently.
The POS system records all the orders your voice tech has taken, which helps improve the speed of service and order accuracy and positively impacts your inventory. With visibility over your orders, you’ll know exactly how much stock you need so you can cut down on food waste.
5. Greater Insights
Streamlining your tech doesn’t just have a visible impact on QSRs in the form of quicker service and better order accuracy – it’s also a huge help behind the scenes. Automated order taking and integration across multiple other systems helps you collect valuable data that you can use to better understand your customers.
You could adapt your marketing or upselling strategies based on the customer trends and behavioral data you gather. Plus, AI will learn from the millions of data points and continually get smarter.
That’s why integration will become your best friend. By integrating these systems, every automated process is effectively in conversation with the next. This helps cut the speed of service, stream customer experiences, and improve your bottom line.
Automate Your Ordering to Stay Ahead of the Game
In the competitive QSR industry, you need to keep up to stay ahead. Big names like McDonald’s and Burger King have announced new plans for automation and AI, and customers expect high-quality digital experiences.
QSRs are not investing in digital because installing a talking robot for order taking is cool. They’re doing so because technology has become synonymous with great customer experience, better business optimization, and financial success.
We kept efficiency and cost-effectiveness in mind while designing Auto, our conversational AI for drive-thru ordering. Auto can keep up with your customers, no matter how busy your lanes are because it can function with over 40+ complex menus and a multitude of accents.
Let Auto take over your ordering, so that you can guarantee speed, efficiency, and consistency of service.