It’s a Monday morning and you are driving to your work, which not many of us do in this never ending pandemic. You need your daily dose of regular coffee from the nearest favorite coffee place. You pull your car into the Drive-Thru in your PJs or your recently dusted off suit which you are wearing after 2 years. You are catching on some notifications on the days headlines on your mobile phone. NPR is playing at Volume #10 in your SUV in the background. You roll down your window.
The staff at the your favorite coffee place greets you,
“Good morning, how may I help you…” with your half window rolled down due to the cold weather, you utter your order.
YOU: “I would like to have a tall chai tea latte extra hot no foam with 2 percent milk and less sugar”.
No pauses, no commas, no full stop….just one long sentence containing everything in one go. The staff inside the kitchen who is wearing the headset to take the order is doing many other things:
The location is short staffed due to the acute labor shortage
One of the staff who was supposed to be in this shift has COVID symptoms
This same individual needs to assess which products needs to be restocked
They also need to clean that blender jar again
There is music being played in the background
They microwave is beeping
And the location has a lot of hub-bub going on
In spite of the most sophisticated noise cancelling head-phones, the staff doesn’t hear your order and says the most irritating
STAFF: Sorry dear, can you say it one more time
Take a pause and think what goes in your mind at that moment.
Why of all the days, today?
I should have been at work 20 min ago.
I will lose my usual parking spot.
I order the same thing every day, when will they ever get it right the first time.
Are they not able to understand my words because of my
Is it NPR, my SUV or the music in the background inside the cafe
I am burning fossil fuel in my gas guzzling SUV and causing more environmental impact / climate change
First Things First
As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over a million jobs in Leisure and Hospitality that are open month for the last several months.
Going back to the Drive-Thru friction scenario from earlier, it just is a waste of time, inefficient, suboptimal experience on both side – for the Customer and the Coffee shop.
This begs a few questions ~
Is there a solution to fix this?
A long term fix?
Can technology address this by augmenting the ground staff to do their jobs better?
Creating a Win-Win with Technology
As the technology has evolved, Enterprises big and small have relied on Technology to the rescue. To achieve efficiency in the process, consistency in the outcome, to eliminate redundancies and to optimize the best use of resources to derive the greatest value. With advances in Speech Recognition technology, Restaurant and Food chains can deploy commercial grade Natural Language Processing system to help the staff manning the location to focus on their high-touch experience rather than recognize the order and manual data entry operators.
Some of the foundational elements of a solution for addressing this will entail the following underlying technologies:
1. Identify customer activity and great the customer to kick off a automated interaction session
2. Identify the order being spoken by the customers at the noisy drive-thru environments, the very first time they are spoken – sophisticated noise cancellation, speaker segmentation and identification systems
3. Processing of the audio stream and transcribe and extract the meaning of set of words and map them to respective product codes in the system
4. Determine if there is a follow-up question needed for modifiers or to kick a dialog to validate the order and seek confirmation
5. Check if there are sales or a combination of product could go well and achieve an upsell opportunity
6. Map the entire order content and make an entry automatically or keep it ready and awaiting for a kitchen staff confirmation to enter into the system
7. Generate a confirmation and Thank the customer
All these steps involve high degree of accuracy to ensure the system performs on par or superior to the best performing staff at the location. This ensures the stickiness to brand identity and ensures repeat customers to the locations.
As more and more customers prefer to use more digital services and want to save more time by using the drive-thrus, it is imperative for the QSR chains to upgrade the experience and bring in automated interactions. The QSR chains have to work with providers who are providing automated order taking products to eliminate friction – drive away, customer dissatisfactions, and wasted effort and rely on technology to help them alleviate these pain points.