Drive-Thru System

Jan–April 2022

Even before the era of social distancing, drive-thru service was enormously popular in the United States. According to a report by QSR Magazine, most major fast-food restaurants report that drive-thru service makes up 70% of their sales.

Considering that the US quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry is worth over US$256 billion, it’s clear how essential this fast and convenient service is for profitability. As a result, many fast-food restaurants are turning towards artificial intelligence to improve efficiencies and rapidly adopt this pandemic-friendly system.

DRIVE-THRU SYSTEM

OBJECTIVE

Although drive-thrus account for such a large proportion of sales, it’s an area that can cause the most frustration for customers and employees alike.

Employees deal with orders from multiple lanes, process payments, scan loyalty cards, and pack food. Mobile ordering apps and self-service kiosks add to the chaos and frustration. For many workers, the multitude of tasks compared to their salary level is not worth the stress. And of course, the longer the wait times, the long queues and the more frustrated customers become. So providing a quicker and more accurate service could be the difference between a restaurant’s growth or stagnation. Voice-based AI technology delivering human-level customer service will forever change the way drive-thrus operate.

APPROACH

The client provided us with different data sets. We used voice-based technology to build a kiosk that can deliver human-level customer service. This AI-based kiosk will also offer personalized coupons to customers, encouraging customers to return to the restaurant with another order in mind. We also used sentiment analysis which can assist voice assistants in detecting customers’ emotions from the tone of their voice and responding appropriately. Powered in part by Natural Language Processing (NLP) and automated speech technology (ASR), our AI-based kiosk could also recognize text and speech to mimic natural human conversation when taking food and beverage orders. Also, with the help of machine learning, we made an ML-based decision technology to predict what menu offerings are most likely to drive sales in its drive-thru business. During the development, we made it a point to make the kiosk a one-stop solution for all. The final kiosk was a multilingual, multi-accent, multi-item conversational ordering system.

This technology also updates the digital drive-thru menu displays based on:

  • The time of day
  • Current order selections
  • Current restaurant traffic
  • The popularity of menu items
  •  Weather conditions

IMPACT

Our AI-powered voice assistant kiosk was able to reduce employees’ stress levels, increase the accuracy of order taking, increase the value of orders by up-selling and provide customers with a more personalized experience. Ultimately, these benefits work together to drive sales and profitability. It also helped the client with customer retention. Automated order-taking boasts an 85% accuracy rating in less than two months of its release as the digital displays suggest items popular with other customers or frequently purchased items in a particular weather or during a specific time of day. These kiosks also suggest faster-to-prepare things to alleviate drive-thru slowdowns and widen the revenue stream for restaurants.

Drive-thru-system

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