April 24, 2023
As a restaurant owner, operator, or manager, you know that managing phone calls during peak hours can be a challenge.
With customers calling to make reservations, place orders, and ask questions, it can be difficult to handle the volume of calls in a timely and efficient manner.
Traditional call center software has been the go-to solution for many restaurants, but with the rise of AI-powered phone answering systems, it is time to reconsider your options.
In this blog post, we'll explore the top 10 reasons why you should choose AI phone answering over restaurant call center software to streamline your phone operations, improve customer satisfaction, and make you more money.
Let’s face it—it’s difficult to outperform advanced technology.
Sure, restaurant call center software picks up the phone, then funnels customers to the appropriate worker who assists them with their query, but ultimately, a human being is the one picking up the phone.
If there’s a human in the equation, then you’ll have to deal with human inefficiencies, like needing to take breaks, costing a lot of money, being prone to mistakes, and only being able to handle one call at a time.
If you do have restaurant call center software, you might be thinking to yourself, “Between the host stand, the to-go station, and the bar phone, we should be able to handle any calls that come through.”
While admirably optimistic, the reality is that most people are put on hold the moment it gets busy. We all know that when it’s busy, the phone starts ringing off the hook.
If it’s a busy weekend night, three phones and whoever’s around will not be enough to handle the call volume for the restaurant.
AI, on the other hand, can handle as much as you can throw at it. For example, let’s say one of your customers makes a video of your most popular dish being delivered to the table by a server.
Everyone oohs and aahs as the dish lands on the table.
The customer posts the video on TikTok, and lucky you, it goes viral.
That would be amazing, but you’ll need to be ready for the sudden rush of new customers.
With AI answering the phone, you’ll be able to handle the staggering number of phone calls that will immediately start flooding in because they are trying to make reservations and ask questions about the special.
As these calls come in, you can rest easy knowing that AI is answering each and every call exactly how you want it to be answered. The problem with restaurant call center software is it won’t answer questions quickly, it can misunderstand what is being asked, and customers will receive inaccurate information.
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24/7 availability is a huge advantage for your customers.
People live busy lives around the clock, and operating your restaurant with call center software means customers can only reach your restaurant during a very specific window of time each day.
These times when a customer calls outside of business hours are a missed opportunity, essentially leaving money on the table.
If a potential guest hits a dead end with you, they’ll likely call one of your competitors.
This can be especially frustrating for guests if you’re only open for dinner.
Your hours could be from 5 pm to 10 pm, which gives people only 5 hours to make the call. Those 5 hours will be chaos, too, so the likelihood of them getting through is slim.
If this happens enough times, people will begin to leave reviews about how difficult it is to get a reservation or even ask a simple question.
Most restaurant call center software has a voicemail feature, but this can quickly become problematic.
Rarely do customers receive a call back they find timely and convenient, which becomes aggravating.
Also, as voicemails accumulate, returning each customer's call becomes difficult and costly. Some calls inevitably will go without a response.
AI phone answering can fix all of these issues—and quite easily.
The number one reason why people call restaurants is to either make a reservation or check for availability.
AI can answer the phone and assist with making a reservation, and no one has to pick up the phone. No more missed calls outside of business hours, and reviews will stay positive because communication is available 24/7.
Restaurant call center software lacks the ability to recognize when someone is speaking a different language.
The caller will hit a dead end because the call center system won’t know how to route their call.
AI phone answering systems can detect when a person is speaking a different language and can direct them to the correct line by using language detection technology.
When a customer calls the restaurant, the AI-powered system will listen to the caller's speech patterns and use machine learning algorithms to identify the language being spoken.
For example, if your restaurant is located in an area where many of the locals speak Spanish, say Los Angeles or Miami, you can use AI phone answering systems to recognize a Spanish speaking customer immediately.
The AI voice concierge can then route the call to a dedicated line that helps Spanish speaking customers.
If that same customer had called a restaurant using call center software, they would have eventually hung up and called a competing restaurant because no one could have helped them.
By helping those in your community who speak other languages, your restaurant will develop a reputation as being inclusive, which will help you to broaden your customer base and generate more profits.
So far, we’ve seen how AI-powered phone answering benefits your customers, but what about the bottom line—does it cost a lot of money?
Because, AI isn’t a person, it costs significantly less per month to operate than traditional restaurant call center software.
Since AI can handle large call volumes, you won’t need to hire additional staff during busy times to avoid missing phone calls.
We’ve already covered AI being available 24/7. Still, it’s worth repeating that you’ll save money on paying an employee to come in and call back any voicemails you receive while closed.
As your restaurant scales, you won’t need more staff to cover the increased call volume.
AI grows at the exact same rate as your business.
This means you won’t have to buy additional equipment often associated with traditional call center software. There’s also the ongoing maintenance and upkeep cost of this equipment, which adds up over time.
AI phone answering is a personalized service that caters to and adapts to every phone call, resulting in more straightforward communication and accurate information for customers. This eliminates, or at least reduces, the costs associated with customer complaints and lousy customer service.
One of the more challenging aspects of scaling a restaurant is finding more high-quality workers to help your business grow.
You can expand your current location or open a new store across town. Either way, after the costly process of breaking ground and building a facility or renovating a space from the ground up, you’ll need to hire staff.
Labor has always been one of restaurants’ most expensive operating costs. It’s not unusual for new locations to hire more help than they need so they can quickly let go of the workers that aren’t pulling their weight.
While it’s a very efficient way of finding good help, it’s an exorbitant cost. Plus, you’ll have to train everyone, and during the first several weeks, customer service will be clunky and awkward.
By using an AI phone answering system, your new customer’s journey will instantly be a frictionless experience when they call the restaurant. There are a million things to focus on when scaling your restaurant, and you can rest easy knowing the phones are safe.
You’ll also want your scaling restaurant to answer every customer call. Because AI can handle nearly unlimited calls, you never have to worry about a customer slipping through the cracks.
Great first impressions are paramount when scaling your business because it relies on new customers, and with AI answering your phone, you can focus on the new guests in the building and let AI assist in getting them through the door.
Customers love using AI-powered phone answering systems because it’s incredibly convenient.
We’ve already talked about AI being available 24/7, which is helpful for all kinds of people in many ways, but people also love it because it’s fast and accurate.
Besides calling about reservations, most customers call restaurants for quick, easy questions. Things like:
You can train AI to answer any of these common questions precisely the way you want it to.
For example, suppose parking for your restaurant is behind the building, but there’s additional parking across the street. In that case, you can program the concierge voice to give customers accurate details on where to find parking instead of guests receiving just an address and hoping they see the signs for additional parking.
Customers find it immensely gratifying to get this information without having actually to talk to someone on the phone.
Have you noticed that people don’t call each other like they used to? That most people use text messaging when communicating—especially younger generations?
It’s the way our world is evolving, and if your restaurant can cater to these preferences, you’ll quickly develop a loyal base of regulars.
Training AI to blend flawlessly with your restaurant’s branding and tone is easy. You can choose from dozens of voices to match your branding—male, female, and even British, Australian, or American accents.
FAQs can have a pre-programmed response, but AI can adapt to each caller's query depending on how they are asking the question.
For example, AI voice concierge uses what’s called natural language processing (NLP), meaning it learns something new with every guest interaction.
If a customer sounds angry or frustrated, NLP helps AI change its response by sounding more empathic in an effort to appease the customer.
AI phone systems also have customizable greetings, taking into factors like the time of day, location, and type of caller. Calls can be routed based on the customer's query. For example, someone who calls for reservations can connect with your reservation platform. Customers trying to put in a food order are forwarded to the restaurant’s POS system.
Traditional restaurant call center software lacks these abilities and is built more for specific tasks. Because of this, call center software can’t adapt to different customer situations, and guests can become frustrated, especially as AI becomes the norm in our day-to-day lives and these types of software go unsupported.
Customers never think about a restaurant being busy when they call. According to the statistics we dug up, the times people most often call coincide with restaurants’ lunch rush and early dinner rush.
When that happens, calls start to get backed up. If you’re lucky to have a host, they’ll be trying to get to the phone between greeting guests and seating tables.
Even with two hosts, and the second one fully dedicated to answering the phone, they will have to put the vast majority of people on hold, then go through each customer in the order they called.
If there’s a line of five phone calls, and each one takes 90 seconds, that means the last caller will have waited for 7.5 minutes on hold.
No one likes to be on hold.
Some people will inevitably hang up and likely go to one of your competitors up the street. If this happens several times a night, that lost business adds up over time.
Restaurant call center software does not have a solution to this problem. It’s the same system that’s been used for years where people have to get in line and wait.
AI phone answering, though, doesn’t miss a single call and can help guests quickly and effectively.
Think of AI as a buffer between you and your guests on the phone. A helpful and friendly buffer that filters out the simple customer questions but only allows high-priority calls to come through.
If the phone rings, staff know it’s for a good reason.
AI also frees up your in-house staff to focus more intently on customers in the building. Giving guests your full attention creates the ultimate customer experience.
Another benefit of using an AI voice concierge system is its cloud-based technology. This means updates are fast and easy.
It’s similar to how your phone gets updated. You don’t have to go into a store or have someone update your phone manually; it happens by being connected through the internet.
Because of this, AI phone answering software stays current and requires very little initiation on your part.
On the other hand, installing restaurant call center software locally, meaning inside your restaurant, requires a significant amount of configuration and integration with the software and hardware currently in your restaurant.
Getting updates for call center software is often complicated and time-consuming. Requiring someone to come to your location and manually update the system. After installation, it needs testing and deployment.
Because it’s challenging to keep up with improvements, some call center software features may become outdated and unsupported.
We just talked about how difficult installing and maintaining restaurant call center software can be, so let’s talk about how onboarding is easy and simple with an AI phone answering system.
Typically, when a restaurant signs up with an AI company, they’ll receive a notice from the onboarding team. The team will have done some upfront research on your restaurant and set up the system ahead of time.
You’ll then have a 30-minute call to show you how the system works and how to make updates to the system.
Then, you will get access to a dashboard that has pre-programmed questions. The questions are tailored based on the type of restaurant you own.
You’ll walk through each question with an onboard manager to get the response exactly how you’d like it.
For example, if you run a fine dining establishment, you might use a more formal tone. If it’s a burger joint, you might want to use a more casual and friendly use of language.
You can even add custom questions and responses specific to your restaurant's needs.
Your new phone service will be up and running in about 30 minutes.
Slang.ai can help your restaurant move away from clunky and outdated restaurant call center software to a modern solution that is quickly becoming the industry standard for the future.
Stop leaving your customers on hold and stop leaving money on the table with dropped calls and an unanswered ringing phone.
Slang.ai will give your restaurant each of the benefits described above and more. You’ll experience:
Don’t let another busy weekend go by where your ringing phone is more of a nuisance than an asset.
Reach out now—we’d love to show you how Slang.ai can help your restaurant thrive.
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