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Restaurant Telephone AI Gone Wrong For Pizza Restaurant

Updated: Oct 2, 2023


A pizza restaurant chain in the US (Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza) was one of the early adopters of telephone AI technology offered by a company called ConverseNow. Becky was the nick name for the AI that was handling roughly 500,000 phone calls a year for the chain restaurant. Recently, the CEO removed it from their services and went back to old school staff answered phone services.



SO WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM?

The Pizza Restaurant chain added the bot to its 60 corporate locations in December 2022 to handle the roughly 500,000 phone orders that come in every year. In doing so, it joined a number of chains that have outsourced their phone lines to AI recently, touting labor savings and higher check averages. Except Becky wasn’t doing a very good job.


In short, the AI was not intelligent enough to handle complex requests from customers, causing both new and regular customers alot of pain. This created friction for employees, who had to deal with the frustrated customers when they came in to pick up their pie. Plus, staff missed interacting with guests.



IS AI NOT USE-ABLE?

The fundamentals of AI (artificial intelligence) is based on "machine learning". Basically, you feed the super computer a massive amount of real live information on an ongoing basis. The computer is programmed to absorb the mass amount of information and it learns to handle different situation over time.



OK, I UNDERSTAND AI NOW, BUT WHAT DOES IT IMPLY FOR MY RESTAURANT BUSINESS?

AI that deals with human interactions (e.g. answering and responding to phone calls) are relatively more complex as human interactions and conversations can go in any direction.


We reckon it will take a longer time (a couple more years at least) before new AI technology becomes ripe enough for a smooth customer experience.



OUR RECOMMENDATION:

Wait for at least two years after a new AI technology has launched before trying it yourself The downside of this approach is, by that time, prices would be probably be higher because the technology would be more reliable and you would have missed the "early bird" prices.



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