The COVID-19 pandemic forced the foodservice industry to adapt in order to survive. In many ways, being forced to move beyond traditional technology and find innovative solutions has been a silver lining.
For example, many restaurants had to figure out how to let guests order food while maintaining social distancing. Many of these new contactless methods, such as self-checkouts, online ordering and payment, tableside payment platforms, curbside pickup, and more, may be here to stay.
Among the many changes restaurant owners have made to adapt include AI—or artificial intelligence. Even the least tech-savvy restauranteurs can use AI to streamline their processes for both staff and guests.
Technology allows restaurants to continue to change, grow, and adapt to everchanging needs.
What is AI?
Artificial intelligence is, well, artificially derived intelligence. It requires human programming to help machines and computers process and compile information and mimic human behavior. The keyword being human programming: AI cannot think or grow beyond its programming.
AI in restaurant technology is meant to automate processes and improve a restaurant’s operations.
Robotic Food Prep
According to Business Insider, DoorDash is incorporating robotic food prep in 2022 for new ghost brands, and they’re not alone in using AI tech. For example, White Castle plans to roll out its cooking robot, Flippy 2, at over 100 locations. This is one of the most significant deployments of robotic food prep in the kitchen as of recently.
Japanese restaurant, Kura Sushi, uses kitchen robots to produce food with mechanical precision: each roll and rice ball is perfectly measured and without the flaws of human error. An AI staff means they need fewer servers and chefs, translating into significant overhead savings.
Many restaurants use AI robots to speed up the process of food preparation and delivery.
Restaurant Scheduling and Food Delivery Software
Ensuring that your employees are scheduled is one of the most critical and challenging aspects of running a food establishment. More and more restaurants are turning to AI-enabled tech to track staffing, determine which times need more staff, and use ongoing data to appropriately staff your restaurant to accommodate traffic and sales.
During the COVID pandemic, food delivery sales exploded and are likely to be an ongoing trend. AI tech can help you optimize your delivery processes, help delivery drivers find better routes for multiple deliveries, update guests about their orders, and send order status texts.
Restaurant Answering Tech and Virtual Assistants
Many restaurants use AI virtual assistants and chatbots to optimize customer service by responding to inquiries and processing food orders. Some AI tools can even help guests choose the best meal option based on what they prefer to eat.
When restaurants miss calls, their business and sales can suffer. Guests are more likely to move on to another restaurant than keep calling the same restaurant. This is why restaurants are starting to adopt AI technology that keeps them from missing valuable calls and orders. AI tech can receive messages, add guests to a waitlist, and answer frequently asked questions.
AI tech can respond to simple queries, which allows your front-of-house staff to focus on in-house guest services.
You may have been to a restaurant that automates the ordering and payment process with tableside payment platforms and QR-coded menus. The benefit to these services is that customers can pay by using their phones, and you can provide assistance with minimal human-to-human contact.
Many restaurants are starting to integrate AI Kiosks to reduce guests’ waiting time and improve their ordering experience. Many self-serve kiosks allow guests to customize their dining experience, from splitting checks to multiple payment options.
Some places, like KFC, even have facial recognition software that can recognize repeat customers and tailor their experience based on previous orders.
Your restaurant can use AI software to collect guest data to provide personalized experiences.
AI tech is a growing field that pushes to minimize errors, reduce overhead, and optimize guest service.