According to CX Network, 53% of companies identify AI as an important tool in creating a “customer-first culture”. Another study found that 56% of businesses say that chatbots are driving disruption in their industry. This means that chatbots are creating powerful changes to industries. They are affecting how customers interact with businesses. They affect how customer service is done. They affect how leads are generated. And they affect how quickly customers can be given the support they need.
Chatbots are growing in popularity every day, and with good reason. They have proven to be a great asset to thriving businesses in the modern world. Great companies can be supported by advanced AI and together become something even greater. This applies to chatbots across all industries, but today we’re going to take a closer look at one sector. How are chatbots advancing customer experience in the restaurant sector? We have the answer.
What Are Restaurant Chatbots?
Put simply, chatbots are what you make them. If you have a creative idea and a problem to solve, then you can design a chatbot for the job. With the restaurant sector, some companies have gone beyond the traditional uses of chatbots (customer service) and found unique ways to offer more to their customers. Here are some examples of chatbots for restaurants.
Chatbots can be utilized to help customers book a table at your restaurant. This can be done through a chatbot on your restaurant website, where a customer may have looked you up and browsed your menu before deciding to book. It can also be done through integrated messenger chatbots. For example, chatbots can be integrated with Facebook Messenger to allow customers to book a table directly from Facebook.
Integration with popular messaging services like Facebook is incredibly powerful for several reasons. You are probably already using Facebook for advertising your restaurant. Imagine this. A potential customer is browsing Facebook at the end of a long day, catching up on the latest happenings in their friend circle. When scrolling, they come across your advert. They pause. They remember that they want to book a meal to catch up with their friend. Their friend’s favorite food is Italian, and that’s what your restaurant specializes in! You’ve now interrupted this person and created a moment for them. They click on the ad and are taken to your Facebook page. The menu looks great, and the reviews look even better! They decide to book a table now before they forget. In just a few clicks they are talking to your expert chatbot. A few messages later and they have a table booked for the next day and a great meal to look forward to. They completed the whole process without ever leaving the app. It was a frictionless experience and caused them no annoyance or stress. There was no waiting for websites to load or navigating around an unfamiliar site.
You can set up your chatbots to instantly send a confirmation email or send in-app notifications to the customer, so they don’t miss their slot. Chatbots for booking reservations are becoming extremely popular with restaurants all over the world, and it’s easy to see why.
A slightly newer addition to the restaurant chatbot scene is chatbots that customers can use inside the restaurant to order food. Customers can sit at their table, browse the menu, and when they’re ready, they can place an order. The chatbot can even be designed to help customers make the best choices according to their preferences, much like a waiter would. For example, the conversation could go like this:
Bot: What would you like to order?
Bot: Great choice! Would you like peppercorn sauce, garlic butter, or Béarnaise?
Customer: Garlic butter
Bot: Perfect! What about wine? Would you like some red wine with your steak? I’ll pull up the options for you.
Chatbots can be designed to carry your voice. If your restaurant is a casual spot where groups of friends get together after work or on the weekend to hang out, then you might want to have some fun with your language. If your restaurant is slightly higher-end, you might want to keep it simple, classy, and professional.
Restaurants are busy places, and sometimes things go off course (pun intended!). Sometimes customers will be unsatisfied with their meal or their service, and they will want to talk to someone. In restaurants, this often happens immediately, while the customer is in the restaurant. However, that isn’t always the case. Some customers don’t feel comfortable with face to face confrontation and find it awkward, for those customers, they might prefer to make a complaint through a chatbot. There are several options for how this type of chatbot will operate.
You could create a bot that acts as the first contact with the customer in the complaint cycle. The bot will greet the customer with a friendly message, and then ask them to explain their problem. They can then assure the customer that they will pass the message to the relevant team. A more advanced option is a chatbot that is programmed to give specific solutions to the customer when certain buzz words are hit. The chatbots of 2020 can understand the context and meaning of the message, so it wouldn’t be solely on keywords, but an advanced algorithm could decide how to solve the customer problem in the most appropriate way.
8 Ways Restaurant Chatbots Enhance Customer Experience
1. Bringing Discounts and Offers to Customers
Sometimes we like the look of a restaurant, but we’re not 100% sold on the idea. There are so many options out there and eating out isn’t something most people do every day. In the US, 20% of people eat out at full-service restaurants once per week. For people outside of the 20%, it could be far less frequent, or only slightly less frequent. Either way, you only have a small window to convince the foodie that your restaurant is the right choice.
Discounts and offers can help seal the deal. If a potential customer lands on your chatbot to ask a question about your availability for a larger group or your opening times, you can use the opportunity to tell them about any current promotions.
2. Something For Every Customer
Everyone is different and has their preferences and quirks. Some customers might prefer to order at the table using a chatbot, rather than interacting with a waiter. This could be the case for people having private business meetings, or just a couple who don’t want to be disturbed! By giving your customers more options, you are showing that you care about their individual experience.
3. Keeping Up with Current Trends
Keeping up with current trends shows your customers that you are an innovative and forward-thinking company. Today you’re offering a fun chatbot that enriches their dining experience, but what about tomorrow? Will you have more great ideas in the future? Your customers will be confident that you will.
4. Saving Costs
Okay, we’re cheating a little here. This is more of a benefit for the restaurant owner, but it can also benefit the customer too. Profit margins can be razor thin at restaurants, so saving costs where you can is an absolute must. Chatbots can help save costs by cutting down on the need to hire humans for every task. If you have a chatbot making reservations and a chatbot acting as a waiter, then you will need less staff.
You can also save costs when it comes to customer service. You don’t need to pay someone to answer customer questions or complaints when so many of them are handled by the chatbots. Equally, you can save yourself from potentially costly damage to your reputation by a scorned customer who didn’t have anyone to turn to outside of your operating hours.
So how does this equate to a better experience for customers? Because when you can save money in some areas, you can invest in others. There’s never been a better time to actively invest in improving the customer experience your company offers. Today, customer experience is a major way that restaurants compete. Sure, the food needs to be good. But the atmosphere and experience are also crucial.
5. Instant and Seamless
We live in a fast-paced world where waiting around just isn’t an option. We hate to be put on hold. We hate waiting in a queue. We want everything now! The same is true for your customers. If they try to call your restaurant and no one answers because they are so busy, they will feel frustrated (they’ve already had a negative experience), and you have potentially lost a customer. With a chatbot, you never have to worry about not being available and leaving a customer waiting. The customer benefits because they get instant responses to their messages and a seamless experience all in one place.
6. 24/7 Customer Service
When you have a chatbot, your customers get 24/7 customer service. They don’t have to wait until you open for business for the day and call you up. They can talk to the bot at any time and get the answer they need. This helps your business stand out from other businesses that offer less and are more restrictive with how customers can communicate with them.
7. Always at Peak Performance!
Customer-facing staff do great work and are usually naturally gifted with people and good at their job. However, we all have off days. Sometimes we feel frustrated or angry or sad, and that can come out in how we talk to customers. A bad tone or a wrong word can completely change a customer’s experience from good to bad.
With a bot, you don’t need to worry about this. Bots are always happy and never stressed. They don’t need breaks, and they don’t need cheering up. They will always be polite and welcoming to customers and will keep their cool even with the rudest of customers. Customers will get a consistent and friendly experience every time, and that will improve their overall impression and experience with your company.
8. Strengthening Your Brand
Your voice and personality are an important part of your brand. You can use chatbots to further your brand and the vibe you are trying to create. It’s a way of personifying your brand through a bot! Bots can be designed to be funny, conversational, and casual, or formal. You decide what’s best for your brand.
Customers remember strong brands. They need to form memories with your company and have an emotional response to interacting with your company, even if that response is simply “that’s a friendly bot”. When they form memories, they will be more likely to come back for more to keep having positive experiences.