This column is authored by Amit Dua, Co-Founder and CEO at Signity Solutions and ValueAppz
According to a Gartner report, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprises without interacting with a human by 2020. This indicates that a majority of human interactions will be automated in the future. And, chatbots are perceived as a crucial technology in this direction.
Several organizations across the world are using chatbots to provide a human touch to their customer communication. Designed on the concepts of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), chatbots can respond to texts and digital chats, and can strike deep, meaningful conversations with customers. They can be built in any live chat interface, such as Slack, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, messaging apps or text messages. For example, Uber chatbot lets Facebook Messenger users to hail a cab from their messaging app itself.
Given that chatbots can take the customer experience to a ‘delight’ or ‘wow’ level, it was only a matter of time that restaurants too started exploring its possibilities to grow their business. Last year, the popular pizza chain Domino’s introduced ‘Dom the Pizza Bot’ to enable its customers to order directly via Facebook messenger. Even other restaurant brands such as Burger King, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell have proprietary chatbots.
In the restaurant business, customer service is of paramount business. Whether it is ordering food or booking tables, customers expect the restaurant staff to give them timely responses. While the customer care service staff can be the best people to answer their queries, there are times when the ‘human tendency’ can interfere with their behavior and hence, result in a negative brand impression of the restaurant. They may be too tired, careless or uninformed to attend to the guests promptly. Chatbots can overcome such human limitations. Since chatbots are automated human interactions, they can take over the basic and mundane customer service tasks such as taking an order, providing with address/timings/menu or accepting payments.
For example, Taco Bell’s TacoBot acts like a witty personal butler to customers using the messaging app Slack. It takes their orders, answers their questions, organizes group office orders, gives menu recommendations and handles transactions. It can even crack jokes, and add a cup of water to the order if the customer mentions being drunk.
With chatbots at their disposal, restaurants do not require to keep a 24/7 dedicated executive to service the customers. Chatbots are programmed with answers to all standard and frequently asked questions. They can act as perfect round-the-clock assistants, engaging customers in a far better and faster way. Customers don’t need to make frustrating phone calls and wait long for someone to come on the other line. Chatbots can attend to multiple customers at a time!
Chatbots record customers’ information such as contact details, order history and preferred payment. It can also send a notification as soon as the order is ready to be served or delivered. So, next time, customers order the food through the chatbot, the process is even simpler and quicker, making them happy with the efficient handling of their orders.
Most restaurants offer rewards and incentives to their loyal customers to engage them continuously and ensure repeat business. Chatbots can keep track of such customers and based on customer interaction history, it can send highly targeted and personalized messages regarding loyalty programs.
Usually, restaurants ask customers to fill a survey form or review them on the websites/app/social media handles, but there is no guarantee that they will do so. If customers want to complain, they might have to wait for a day to a week to get a reply from the restaurant. Chatbots can not only frame a real-time response to the complaints, but also gather feedback from the customers within the conversation itself.
Chatbots are still an emerging trend in the restaurant industry, but they are believed to be the future of customer experience. While they may not completely replace humans, they will offer natural and sophisticated human interactions to enhance the customer experience.