Fast Food restaurants are Leveraging AI to Provide Better Service
Category: AI insights
Published date: 18.05.2023
Read time: 5 min
The next time someone orders fries to go with their shake, a robot may be taking their order. At least, that’s what Wendy’s, a U.S. fast food restaurant, is hoping to accomplish. This summer, Wendy’s will begin testing a chatbot powered by artificial intelligence that can converse with customers and take orders. Let’s take a look at what this AI chatbot will be able to do and the data annotation that is required to train it correctly.
What Does Wendy’s Have Planned?
Wendy’s has announced it will begin testing an AI chatbot that can take orders from customers in drive-thrus. The pilot program, called Wendy’s FreshAI, is a partnership with Google and will launch at a restaurant in the Columbus, Ohio, area next month. The reason for experimenting with this new technology is that 75%-80% of Wendy’s customers prefer to order via the drive-thru.
The new chatbot will be able to converse with customers, answer frequently asked questions and understand made-to-order requests. What’s really impressive is that the chatbot will be well-versed in all of Wendy’s lingo. For example, if a customer would like a milkshake, the restaurant calls it a “Frosty” and “JBC” is short for a “junior cheeseburger.” Wendy’s hopes that this new AI chatbot will be able to reduce customer wait times by quickly taking and placing orders.
The Fast Food Industry is Quickly Adopting AI
Wendy’s is not the only restaurant leveraging AI in its restaurants. McDonald’s inaugurated a fully automated restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas, last year and expanded the number of drive-thrus run by AI around the U.S. Also, just last year, Popeyes created its own chatbot, called Tori, which debuted at a Louisiana restaurant. According to a statement, the AI increased drink sales by 150%, service speed by 20%, and customer happiness by 20%. AI-powered voice ordering has already been introduced by Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s in a few drive-thrus, and the chains have declared their intention to introduce the technology throughout all of their eateries.
It is worth pointing out that the goal of AI is not to replace human workers, but rather to “shift crew responsibilities to meet the increased volume of Wendy’s orders expected in the drive-thru and across our growing digital channels.
What are Some Challenges the Chatbot Will Need to Overcome?
The chatbot will have to cope with consumers who change their minds during purchase as well as any extraneous noises like sounds made by children in the backseat of a car. For this reason, when Wendy’s begins testing the AI-powered drive-thru in June, an employee will be watching to make sure customers don’t have a breakdown. If the AI is unable to correctly process a customer’s order, they will also have the option of speaking with a person. In addition to this, customers will have a lot to get used to. There will be situations when the chatbot will not clearly understand what a customer is saying, and a lot of patience will be required on behalf of the customers while this technology is fine-tuned.
What Types of Data Annotation are Necessary to Train AI Chatbots?
AI Chatbots rely on natural language processing (NLP) to understand human speech. The training datasets for NLP projects need to be annotated with methods like entity annotation, which is the process of locating, extracting, and tagging entities in text. Entity annotation can be further broken down into things like named entity recognition, keyphrase tagging, and part-of-speech tagging.
In addition to this, audio annotation will also be necessary, which includes sound labeling. This is the process of identifying and classifying sounds, such as speech, background noise, and music. Audio classification will also be useful here because it will allow the system to understand the sentiment and emotions of the customers. If a customer sounds irritated, then the system might transfer this order to a human worker.
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