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AI-powered digital menu board – a personalized experience for customers at drive-thru restaurants

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Digital signages have been playing a crucial role in customer experience at any quick service and drive-thru restaurant for years now. The large rollouts that focus on the front counter or the drive-thru menu boards are the most common areas these digital signages are used to attract the customer and more. Although it is still early to predict, when technology is linked with a seamless ordering experience, it is bound to give rise to self-ordering kiosks and mobile apps. Delivery will drive incremental sales and will turn into a key part of the velocity growth plan of a brand.

The future of signages

While most places still have non-interactive signages, the pandemic has brought to the fore the need to add technology to this process. These new-age digital menu boards will help a restaurant gain a meaningful impact on their business. They can help the restaurant thrive in the future and survive the economic crisis facing the entire hotel industry due to changed customer behavior due to the pandemic. Customers nowadays want smart and efficient experiences at the counter or drive-thrus to minimize time spent and contact. These digital boards provide a seamless personalized experience that aligns the restaurant to their way of working before the pandemic.

How does AI work?

The AI technology used in restaurants learns by constantly listening, improving, and further learning. This evolves their algorithm to convert the ordering process into a smooth process that works every time without fail. The backend testing involves a simulated environment with an end-to-end ordering process in a controlled environment to allow the system to frequently learn and update. The eventual goal of any AI system is to become fully autonomous through voice ordering experience to engage their customers in a suitable human manner. The system keeps checking the key performance indicators or KPIs for its data analysis and training to make itself better over time.

How to decide?

Brands that evaluate the use of any digital signage partners need to focus not only on today but also on the customer experience in the next five to ten years. While evaluating, companies need to study where the content is picked, the product display parameters, external data sources, and data management. A perfect alignment of all factors involved is critical to creating a seamless customer experience that will boost revenues and bring success. Customer loyalty is thus earned that further helps drive sales. Drive-thrus especially provide a huge potential for the use of AI in such digital signages.

The potential of AI in digital signages

The pandemic has changed customer behavior and off-premises ordering has increased exponentially. This requires restaurants to find newer ways to improve order accuracy, increase the speed of service, and maintain the quality of food. AI or artificial intelligence stimulates computers to behave intelligently and perform complex tasks otherwise reserved for humans. In digital signages, AI implementation utilizes its text and speech features to automate communication with the human customer. This helps build personal connections with the customer perfectly on a large scale and optimally compete in an increasingly competitive market.

Challenges faced

The biggest let-down of any drive-thru service is the waiting time after placing the order that leads to congestion and an inconsistent customer experience. The outside window outlook presents increasing numbers of customers, complex menus, inaccurate orders, and longer waiting times, while the inside window environment is one of fatigue as employees multitask, forget to upsell and also take down incorrect orders as they try to keep up with the influx of customers. Speed of service is one of the most crucial customer experiences at any drive-thru. The use of AI can help both the outside and inside the window experience.

AI inclusion to existing technology

Consumers have already become proficient at ordering from a multitude of brands through various food aggregators. Consumer loyalty has thus shifted from individual brands to these third-party food delivery apps and services. The use of AI allows the restaurant to regain lost control of their customer experience and earn back their loyalty by automating processes through traditional channels like mobile, phone, drive-thru, online, and more. Advancements in technology have made it possible to identify complex, unconstrained, and even messy language by customers while placing orders. This helps both the customer experience and operational efficiency by aligning the ordering process in a new manner.

Conclusion

The future of drive-thrus is bright with the inclusion of AI in their operations. Voice automation, combined with better analytics, will help the AI to smoothen the operations and make any drive-thru experience better while bringing in profits to the company. AI-driven chatbots are only the first step towards being future-ready for any drive-thru restaurant. Many AI applications are still being researched and will soon make their way to quick-service chains and other fast and casual dining outlets.

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