As a restaurant owner, there are many digital technologies to choose from for demand creation and order taking. Instore, you see more and more self-ordering kiosks and ordering apps. Especially in quick service restaurants, self-ordering kiosks are helpful to lower waiting times and to increase customer experience.
For delivery, a restaurant can choose from the many food delivery platforms like UberEats, GrubHub and Postmates. These delivery platforms are very convenient to reach new potential customers but food delivery platforms are also expensive and charge high commission fees. Often, a restaurant also has an ordering ability on its website, creating revenue and data from customers.
All these separate channels can differ heavily in terms of experience. Things like menu items and pricing easily differ from channel to channel. As a restaurant, is there a way to combine channels? Yes, there is and it’s called a chatbot. A chatbot works via messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp and it can handle orders for in store, delivery and pick up. Customers open a conversation and place their order as easy and intuitive like chatting with friends. Payment is also handled within the chatbot and within the conversation.
By using NLP (Natural Language Processing), which is a form of artificial intelligence, you can have natural conversations with a chatbot. Especially when a task is specified, like taking an order, chatbots have become a very effective tool.
With a chatbot you also move away from loosely connected platforms and go into a 1–1 conversation with the customer. Chatbots also generate a ton of data that you can use to optimize your business. An often heard complaint with 3rd party food delivery platforms is the lack of data sharing. Via a conversation you truly build a connection with your customer.
Besides having one channel to take all type of orders, there is another advantage of a chatbot. You can easily send promotional messages back to cross and up sell. Think about it if you get highly personalized messages and the only thing you have to do is say yes. E.g. “It’s Friday night, do you want to order your favorite pizza again?”.
The power of chatbots is still very much underestimated. Especially when you limit the scope of a chatbot, they can be very effective.A chatbot is never sick and does exactly what you want it to do. Chatbots will replace more platforms like websites in the future. We enter the era of conversational commerce and the restaurant industry has a nice use case to profit from it. But we will see chatbots in many other industries in the near future.