The restaurant industry’s labor shortage has operators clamoring to find solutions that will boost their profits while reducing their reliance on hard-to-find staff. Automation is one such solution–and AI-powered technologies like voice assistants and computer vision can revolutionize the experience for personnel and patrons alike.

QSRs with drive-thrus are particularly well-suited to transformation by automation. When deployed correctly, voice assistants can augment existing staff, allowing them to focus on higher-value tasks while greeting drive-thru guests, taking their orders, and offering upsell suggestions that can result in increased profit margins.

Like humans, though, not all voice assistants are created equal. The best voice assistants inhabit an important sweet spot: they’re both human enough to appeal to your customers and automated enough to help you realize real profits.

1. Does it get the order right?

At quick-service restaurants, one thing is important above all else: delivering the right food to the right customer. Whether they’re at the counter or in the drive-thru line, customers expect staff to take their order accurately, so they can enjoy their menu item of choice.

That means superior order accuracy is table stakes for an AI-powered voice assistant. When considering which voice assistant to deploy, make sure to evaluate the technology’s order completion percentage.

Our Presto Voice solution completes orders accurately over 95% of the time–which is better than many human drive-thru operators can boast. According to the most recent annual Drive-Thru Report by QSR and Intouch Insight, “consumers ranked order accuracy as the most important factor for a positive drive-thru.” The top 10 industry leaders had an order accuracy of 79.4% to 89.6% based on the survey.

2. Does it sound human and is it conversational?

A pervasive fear among restaurant operators reticent to embrace automation is that digital tools like voice assistants will detract from the customer experience. They worry that guest-facing computers could feel cold and impersonal–and, in turn, drive diners away from their drive-thrus.

For that reason, it’s critical to choose a voice assistant that sounds like a friendly human–and which is technically advanced enough to speak conversationally. Your voice assistant should integrate frictionlessly into your customer’s drive-thru experience and understand various vernacular and turns of phrase, so customers needn’t worry about modifying their language as they place their orders.

We pride ourselves on engineering the highest-quality AI, which sounds friendly and understands conversational language. As one Checker’s employee noted, “[Presto Voice] does sound like a human. I get people asking all the time if I was the one actually taking the order or if it was an AI voice assistant. They don’t know which one it is.”

3. Can it understand customers and accommodate modified orders?

It’s important for your voice assistant to understand your customers’ conversational tones–and it’s equally important for them to understand and accommodate customers when they modify their orders. Thus, ensure the AI you’re selecting is sophisticated enough to understand all types of voices–including those with accents–and react in real-time when customers change their minds.

We test our Presto Voice technology on human subjects of various ages and accents, so our voice assistants have no trouble understanding customers’ orders. As one Checker’s customer praised, the voice assistant was able to deliver the correct meal, even after he had modified his order. “I ordered a whole burger, switched it around, got different toppings, sauces, and then I [switched my order],” said the customer. Despite these changes, the voice assistant got the order right–and the customer got the right sandwich.

4. Does it upsell?

Finding a voice assistant that can relieve pressure from your existing staff by taking orders accurately and interacting appropriately with guests is just the first step. If you select the right partner, you can even leverage the technology to increase your profit margins.

The right voice assistant can actually be a better selection to manage your drive-thru than certain employees. When programmed correctly, voice assistants never forget to upsell customers.

Our Presto Voice technology quadruples upsell attempts made in the drive-thru, and that in turn boosts check sizes. Customers benefit from personalized suggestions that improve their dining experience–and restaurant operators benefit from more items sold and higher revenues.

5. Does it connect seamlessly with your existing drive-thru and POS systems?

The best technologies work together to extract as much value as possible, both in terms of productivity and profitability. When selecting your drive-thru voice assistant, ensure that it connects seamlessly with your existing drive-thru and POS systems. This centralizes the information each of these systems handles, which makes it easier for your business to make informed, data-driven decisions. It also makes it easier for staff to get up-to-speed with the new technology, and it reduces the likelihood of errors that decrease productivity and detract from the customer experience.

Our Presto Voice technology connects easily with your existing systems, which makes setup and management seamless. ”

6. Does it integrate with other drive-thru technologies?

The right voice assistant for your business won’t just integrate with your POS system–it will integrate easily with each technology you utilize in your drive-thru, both to improve the guest experience and to enhance upsell opportunities. For example, it should integrate with loyalty programs, so you can continue to delight your repeat customers even when they interact with a computer rather than a staff member. It should integrate with computer vision tools, so you can more easily identify returning customers and offer personalized selections to them. It should integrate with analytics tools, so you can manage your restaurant in a more measured way.

Presto Voice integrates easily with each such tool, which makes it easier for restaurant operators to run a lean, metrics-oriented establishment while continuing to deliver superior service to guests.

7. Is it easy to integrate with the restaurant menu?

When selecting your voice assistant, make sure it can easily integrate with the most important item to your customers: the restaurant menu. Your voice assistant should have real-time access to the most up-to-date information on menu items, prices, and specials. If you select the right tool, your voice assistant could have a better understanding of the menu than some of your staff members.

Presto Voice integrates seamlessly with your restaurant menu, so you can rest assured that your guests will interact with the right content 100% of the time.

If you’re considering adding a voice assistant to your drive-thru, congratulations: you’re taking a first step toward creating a more efficient, more productive, and more pleasant experience for your staff and guests alike. It’s important, though, to ensure you choose technology that fits into and augments your current operations. You need a voice assistant that’s a happy mix of art and science–which understands the art of guest relations and the science of smooth integration, accurate order-taking, and optimized upsell potential.

Presto Voice delivers that combination. If you’re interested in learning more about our solution, contact Presto today and we will work to rapidly deploy a suitable solution for you.

About Presto

Presto overlays next-gen digital solutions onto the physical world. Our enterprise-grade touch, vision, and voice technologies help hospitality businesses thrive while delighting guests. With over 100 million guests using Presto each month and 300,000 systems shipped, we are one of the largest technology providers in the industry.

Founded at M.I.T. in 2008, Presto is headquartered in Silicon Valley, Calif. with customers including top 20 hospitality chains such as Applebee’s, Aramark, Chili’s Grill & Bar, Denny’s, and Outback Steakhouse.