Quick-service restaurants (QSRs) face the constant challenge of delivering personalized and efficient customer experiences (CX). Customers are increasingly demanding faster service, tailored recommendations, and seamless interactions across multiple touchpoints. Traditional methods of personalization, such as loyalty programs and targeted advertising, are reaching their limits. 

This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) in restaurants acts as a game-changer, offering QSR the tools to personalize customer journeys at scale and gain an edge over the competition. According to a recent report by Accenture, 56% of businesses claim that conversational AI is disrupting their industry. 

“As we look towards the future of quick service restaurants, the integration of AI agents is no longer just an option but a growing necessity. LLM technology represents the cutting edge of customer service, offering an adaptable, intelligent solution that keeps pace with the evolving expectations of consumers.”

– Saad Hashmi, VP Data Science & Strategy, VentureDive

The Rise of Artificial Intelligence in QSRs 

The global Quick Service Restaurant market is expected to reach a staggering $787.6 billion by 2027. This growth is fueled due to increasing urbanization, rising disposable incomes, and changing consumer preferences, calling for the use of AI in restaurants and other industries too.

Currently, QSRs are looking for innovative ways to differentiate themselves and provide a superior CX. To support that, AI-enabled agents are emerging as a powerful tool for QSRs to achieve this goal. These intelligent systems can automate routine tasks, personalize customer interactions, and provide 24/7 customer support. 

The evolving CX landscape in QSRs

The QSR industry is witnessing a rapid evolution in customer expectations. According to McKinsey & Company, 71% of consumers now expect companies to personalize their interactions, while 76% get frustrated when their experiences are not individualized. This shift is driven by factors such as:

Greater access to technology

Customers feel more comfortable using mobile apps, online ordering platforms, and self-service kiosks, expecting a seamless and personalized experience across these channels rather than going through the hassle of physically visiting the restaurant to place their order.

Tailored dining experience

The one-size-fits-all strategy is not cutting the slack anymore for customers now. They now expect tailored dining experiences that revolve around seamless and relevant touchpoints. Customers expect Quick Services Restaurant to cater to their dietary restrictions and instructions with mobile order-ahead, contactless deliveries, and an overall human-less experience. AI solutions for restaurants can help QSRs meet this level of personalization and increase frictionless order processes.

Order accuracy

To provide accurate and relevant answers, chatbots need to leverage natural language processing and artificial intelligence to understand user queries, intent, and context. This can boost user confidence and satisfaction with chatbots.

Agents: Adding a flair of personalization in QSRs

Agents are models embedded within user-facing applications that can conversationally interact with customers as chat agents or virtual agents over a call, simulating human-like interactions. They can be deployed across various touchpoints, including:

  • Mobile apps: Agents can provide personalized recommendations, answer frequently asked questions, and assist with order placement and payment.
  • Online ordering platforms: Customers can be expertly guided through the ordering process, be recommended complementary items, and receive real-time updates on their orders.
  • Self-service kiosks: A well-curated AI agent can further help customers navigate the kiosk interface, make contactless payments, and resolve any issues they may encounter.

The benefits of utilizing AI agents in QSRs are multifold:

1. Personalized customer interactions

With access to individual customer data and preferences, AI-powered agents can tailor each customer interaction. This includes offering custom-curated recommendations for menu items, promotions, and loyalty rewards.

Just as the AI agent helps new customers, they also maintain awareness of repeat customers and their order history. While keeping their preferences in context, agents can recommend new items or complimentary items, such as a dessert paired with their meal. All this results in a delightful customer experience and improved loyalty for the restaurants.

2. Enhanced order accuracy and efficiency 

AI agents can process orders quickly and accurately, eliminating human errors as well as wait times. The system can be further automated with order-tracking agents that can provide real-time delivery updates, ensuring visibility for the customer. This improves customer satisfaction while providing efficiencies to QSR operations.

3. 24/7 availability

Round-the-clock availability to answer customer questions and resolve issues at minimal cost is a huge advantage. This ensures customers have access to support where and when they need it, even outside regular business hours.

4. Cost reduction

By automating repetitive tasks, agents enable human employees to focus on more complex customer interactions and value-added tasks. This provides significant and continuous cost savings for QSRs and acts as one of the major benefits of AI in the restaurant industry.

Technical aspects of AI agents

The effectiveness of AI agents relies on a combination of natural language processing (NLP), machine learning (ML), and data analytics suites.

Here’s a breakdown of the core technologies typically used in AI-powered agents:

Natural language processing (NLP)

NLP enables AI agents to understand the intent and sentiment behind customer queries. This allows them to respond in a way that is both accurate and relevant.

Machine learning (ML)

ML algorithms are used to train AI agents on large datasets of text and audio data. This allows them to identify patterns and learn to respond to new situations accurately.

Data analytics

Customer data from various sources is analyzed to understand individual preferences and behaviors. This information is then used by AI agents to personalize their responses and recommendations.

By leveraging these technologies, AI agents can provide QSRs with a powerful tool to personalize the customer experience and improve operational efficiency.

Parting thoughts – AI in restaurants for advantage in the market

As AI agents and similar technologies evolve, QSRs can expect to see even greater benefits, including increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and revenue growth. The use of AI in restaurants boasts a number of benefits, as discussed in the article.

By embracing AI and incorporating it into their CX strategy, Quick Service Restaurants can stay ahead of the curve and deliver an exceptional customer experience that sets them apart from the competition.