Gen Z will call the restaurant.
New voice chatbots and artificial intelligence could make the exchange less painful
Do you call restaurants? Cringe, right?
Over a decade of innovating, most restaurant tech worked to replace a conversation. It could be time for a change.
Last week, a company called SoundHoud introduced an integration with popular point of sale and payments company Toast that makes voice orders easier to handle. SoundHound’s tech can converse with a human. It can answer the phone at a restaurant and give callers basic info like hours and location. It can also take orders for takeout or delivery, and, with the Toast integration, deliver them straight to the point of sale system. I’d argue that, executed properly, this method is just as efficient and effective — for diner and restaurant — as placing an order on a mobile app. The tech can even answer questions, accept modifications, and upsell to callers.
Proponents of voice technology in restaurants say that they’re not killing restaurant work or alienating workers; they’re instead shifting jobs to order fulfillment and increased hospitality. Artificial intelligence and voice recognition software can funnel digital orders directly to a restaurant kitchen, increasing speed and accuracy, they say.
It’s been a while since app-based ordering upended restaurant operations; voice is poised to be the next disruptor. Might diners tolerate, or even enjoy, talking to a highly efficient robot that’s statistically more likely than a human to get their order right?
A handful of technology companies are iterating on voice recognition tech, the type that’s strong enough to maintain a helpful conversation, answer questions quickly, and promise a smooth customer service experience, all over the phone, through a kiosk, or in the drive-thru line.
It’s funny because plenty of us have spent years specifically avoiding phone calls and other conversation.
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