Looking towards 2024,
restaurant industry experts predict one of the biggest indicators of success is whether or not businesses embrace technology.
If you’re an owner, operator, or manager, we’re here to offer a not-so-hot-take. It’s time to modernize your restaurant business or potentially get left behind.
While there’s new software and technology popping up every day, which are actually worth spending your time and resources on?
Spoiler: artificial intelligence (AI) is worth your while.
But what is AI and how can AI help your restaurant business?
What is AI?
Before we dig into why this technology can be a game changer for restaurants, let’s take a step back. What even is AI?
The science of AI dates back to the 1950s when Alan Turing, known as the “Father of Computer Science”, envisioned a world where machines could process information faster than humans.
The modern definition of AI—or artificial intelligence—according to
Mckinsey and Company is, “a machine’s ability to perform the cognitive functions we associate with human minds, such as perceiving, reasoning, learning, interacting with an environment, problem solving, and even exercising creativity”.
Put simply, AI makes machines seem smart and even humanlike. However, AI isn’t meant to just mimic human thinking, it can expand upon it in some ways too.
Machines can process large amounts of data the human brain could never handle. The combination of processing huge quantities of data paired with humanlike experiences is what makes AI exciting and innovative technology.
While AI may seem like something out of Sci-Fi movies or academic papers, you’d be surprised by how much it’s already a part of our daily lives.
When you think about it, AI is everywhere, such as:
Digital assistants like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa Content recommendation algorithms on social networks like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok Turn-by-turn direction apps like Google Maps that give you real-time tips on how to get to your destination based on traffic or weather
All of these
examples use AI technology to learn from the world around you and help you solve problems. The state of tech in restaurants
With AI present seemingly everywhere already, it makes sense it could be applied to the dining experience too. However, AI isn’t the only important technology in the restaurant scene.
If you’re considering what technology and software can help your business, it’s important to think of AI tools along with what else is out there. Let’s explore some common tech you’ll find at most modern restaurants.
1. Point-of-sale platforms
Point-of-sale (POS) systems like
Toast, Square, and Clover have become key technologies both for making operations smooth and for creating a delightful customer experience.
POS systems help restaurants take and manage orders, maintain menus in real-time, manage tables, and facilitate a smooth payment experience for guests. POS systems also help with online orders and are usually connected to the kitchen to create a seamless ordering experience.
2. Ordering software
Whether it’s touchscreen kiosks or QR code menus linking to websites, customers today have access to various kinds of ordering software.
Toast, Square POS, Lightspeed Restaurant and ChowNow are just some of the platforms built to improve the ordering process for customers and restaurant businesses alike. 3. Phone and customer service tools
The experience for guests and customers extends beyond the walls of a restaurant. Before a customer even sets foot in an eatery, oftentimes they’ll have visited the website or even made a reservation online.
an AI-powered virtual phone agent for restaurants provides digital phone and customer service technology, like live chat software, SMS communication, and virtual assistants to help improve the customer experience. 4. Reservation and waitlist apps
Not all customers want to make reservations over the phone and instead opt for online reservation technology. Whether on the web or through an app, reservations need to be seamless.
SpotOn and TablesReady help restaurant managers manage reservations and waitlists all while keeping their customers in the loop on the status of their table. 5. Marketing and branding tools
Competition is fierce in the restaurant industry. It can be extremely difficult to stand out without a unique brand, and even harder to attract new business without targeted marketing campaigns.
Design tools like
Canva can help restaurant owners design a brand or create marketing tools with their intuitive graphic design capabilities. MailChimp and Squarespace can be used to create and maintain a standout online presence. 6. Inventory management and operations
It’s difficult to understate how much of an impact operations can have on a restaurant. Whether it’s creating a seamless supply chain with vendors, managing your inventory, or scheduling employees, there’s a ton of logistics that go into running and growing a restaurant.
GloriaFood for food ordering and delivery, Marketman for inventory management, WhenIWork for employee scheduling and time management, and Parsley for culinary operations management and recipe sharing are just some of the ways modern restaurants are getting ahead and staying ahead.
So where does AI fit in? Just like in your daily life, AI technology is actually incorporated into the top tools used in the restaurant business today. Phone systems intelligently route callers, kiosks can create personalized experiences, AI can automate behind-the-scenes operational tasks and so much more.
How to use AI in your restaurant business
When you’re on the hunt for tools to help
grow your restaurant business, you may not even realize you’re in search of AI technology.
We mentioned a few ways AI is baked into the technology restaurants are using for an efficient back-of-house and delightful front-of-house. Let’s explore how restaurant owners are using AI to improve their business.
Handle customer calls
One of the best parts of AI is that it helps humans process more information than they’d be able to do on their own. When it comes to the restaurant business, one of the biggest bottlenecks is phone calls. Using AI-based phone services like Slang.ai means calls can be handled without having to take staff away from other precious work.
For example, the
Genuine Hospitality Group needed a solution to help them manage incoming phone calls to free up their staff to focus on guests and customers. After implementing Slang.ai, they saw the following impact: Slang facilitated 1.2k+ voice phone reservations in the last 90 days. 81% of calls were completely managed by Slang, reducing the load on staff. 93.8% caller satisfaction rate was recorded in post-call surveys. With plugins connecting to popular reservation software, reservation bookings became more streamlined both for guests and the team. Speed up hiring
The labor market is volatile and the restaurant industry is no exception. When hiring and keeping great people is a top priority for most restaurant owners, it makes sense to invest in the best tools you can find to get the best people working for you.
Tools like applicant tracking systems (ATS) and short message service (SMS), otherwise known as text messaging, can help speed up the hiring process by tracking applications for certain positions and sending clear, automated messages to candidates. AI builds upon these tools by filtering out the most qualified candidates to save you time and hire the best.
Streamline business operations and processes
As mentioned, there are a ton of logistics that go into running a restaurant and running it well. Some of the more mundane parts could potentially be automated using AI which frees up staff for more important work.
Whether it’s software that automates banking, wages, and payroll or a customer relationship management (CRM) system that tracks customer inquiries or requests, your possibilities are endless for streamlining business operations and processes.
An example of AI in restaurants
If there’s one thing to take away from this blog it’s that AI is here to stay and more common in the restaurant industry than you may have realized. It’s baked into operational systems and becoming popularized in creating a smooth customer experience.
Slang.ai helps restaurants transform the experience of calling restaurants into one that is personalized, efficient, and delightful. This technology allows these businesses to improve staff productivity, increase revenue opportunities, and still provide world-class hospitality.
Tl;dr - We’re a digital phone concierge that answers questions, takes reservations, and satisfies callers.
We embrace AI technology and help restaurant businesses do the same. With Slang.ai you can expect:
Increased profit from zero dropped calls More 5-star reviews from happy customers The ability to scale your restaurant at your pace Data insight for marketing, sales, and customer experience Overall efficiency with customer service, reservations, and FAQs A happier staff that doesn’t have to wait around the phones Why AI in restaurants is the future of hospitality
Running a restaurant isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes guts to get up and running and a lot of business know-how to thrive. AI can be used as a tool to make sure your business grows. Here are just some of the ways AI makes a difference.
Whether it’s taking reservations over the phone or taking orders, these touchpoints take time, energy, and manpower. AI technology in phone or POS systems automates a lot of those tasks which means you can spend less money on staffing your restaurant which will help lower costs in the long run.
When those tasks are manned by people, there’s always the opportunity for human error. AI minimizes errors in reservations, orders, and more which will not only make your operations run more smoothly but keep your customers happy.
Delight your customers
AI isn’t for Sci-Fi or academic papers, it’s baked into our daily lives. We’re used to asking our devices for help and expect information tailored to our experience. Incorporating AI into your restaurant operations—especially in the front-of-house—will help you deliver the top-notch experience your customers have come to expect.
Want to see how Slang.ai can save you in labor costs and find new opportunities for revenue growth? Get in touch today to sign up for a demo.