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How AI Technology Is Transforming the Drive-Thru Experience

by Byrne Anderson
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Mention the words artificial intelligence, and most minds immediately wander to Sci-Fi movies- A.I., I, Robot, and the like. Artificial intelligence is no longer a fictional ideal lying somewhere in the hazy future; it’s here with us. You don’t need to look beyond your smartphone for evidence of this. Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant are ready examples of A.I. in action today.

This technology has even penetrated the world of quick-serve restaurants. Several drive-thru outlets capitalize on this technology to improve their efficiency, polish up their customer service, and drive sales.

Ordering Gets Faster

If your customers still have to place orders with your employees who first write it down, then repeat it back before relaying it to the kitchen, you’re living in the past. Many restaurants are already allowing customers to place orders using voice assistants on their smartphones from wherever they are. They can then swing by the drive-thru later and find their order waiting for them.

Voice-assisted smart orders are not reserved for when customers are away from the outlet; they can dictate orders to their smartphones while in the drive-thru queue and proceed to the pick-up window.

It gets better. A.I. will soon make it possible for your POS to recognize repeat customers by face and prepare their favorite orders even before they get to the counter. In this way, order processing for customers who opt-in can take a matter of seconds, down from the ion it currently takes.

That’s not where the A.I. revolution stops. It has infiltrated the kitchen. Outlets like McDonald’s have robot friers that are activated upon receiving the customer’s spoken order.

Boost Upselling

The self-ordering system that helps you churn out repeat orders in seconds can also, like a savvy barista, suggest other options to customers based on their past orders. A.I. is, in fact, better placed to do this than a human attendant as even the best barista can forget some customer’s faces and fail to latch onto an upselling opportunity.

While restaurant employees may fear that the rise of A.I. will lead to them facing unemployment, it may boost their productivity. When linked to your POS, A.I. can help you identify which members of your staff excel most at upselling. You can deploy these employees during high-traffic hours to help them maximize their potential as you boost your sales.

Some intelligent, quick service restaurant systems already in use boost sales by popping up upselling suggestions at the point when the customer is paying for their order. The recommendations are based on the customer’s history of previous orders, pulled up when their license plate is scanned at the point of entry.

Improve Customer Service

For most customers, excellent service means getting them out of your drive-thru queue as fast as possible. Artificial intelligence will help you achieve this by collecting data on customer order history and comparing it with the order processing times to determine which menu items are best for high-volume times. In this way, AI-infused quick service point of sale software and hardware will help you be able to serve more customers and maximize on-peak hours.

One of the core benefits of A.I. is that it will allow your staff to focus on the core business as it handles the more mundane stuff. With AI handling order-taking and payment processing, your team can handle other tasks that A.I. is not yet built to take, such as errors in orders and similar customer complaints. They can focus on convincing visitors who are undecided to commit to particular choices.

Suppose your customers still prefer the human touch. In that case, you can have a dedicated staff member to usher them in and run them through different menu options, being careful to upsell complementary toppings, drinks, etc. Then have your AI-enabled POS take over from there, receiving the customer’s order and deducting the total from their credit card.

Join the march into the future

Many large, well-known fast-food chains in America have turned to artificial intelligence and machine learning to optimize their staff scheduling, order processing, and upselling. Some systems even help you sniff out fraudulent payments at the point of processing an order. Your customers will soon be expecting you to offer the same convenience and speed when they roll into your entryway. Get into the A.I. game before your customers begin asking questions or looking for answers elsewhere.

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