AI to Serve Up Success at Quick Service Restaurants 

AI August 14 2023

Intelligent Restaurant Technology for Front of House and Back of House Orchestration for QSRs

In Quick-Service Restaurant (QSR) industry, customer experience reigns supreme, and two key components, “front of the house” and “back of the house,” play pivotal roles in determining a restaurant’s success. These interconnected aspects rely on each other to ensure the efficient and effective functioning of the entire establishment. A hiccup in one can have a noticeable impact on the other, impacting the overall service quality and speed.

While front of the house strives to create a welcoming and delightful ambiance for customers as they step into the restaurant, back of the house focuses on equipping employees with everything they need to provide exceptional service. This harmonious interplay is critical to deliver a seamless dining experience.

Now with a boom in AI technologies and generative algorithms like ChatGPT, AI can intervene to ensure this harmonious interplay between front and back of the house. Right from

  • Order taking and initial greetings to guiding the customer in navigating through the menu.
  • Making relevant recommendations within the menu and suggesting relevant substitutes in consideration with the ingredients’ availability
  • Order registration notifying the back of house staff to start preparing the order and notifying customers on the ETA for their order
  • Redirecting customers to back of the house staff member for seeking clarification on the order and vice versa for order confirmation
  • Recommending alternate mediums such as mobile app chat assistants in case of inability to grasp voice order details due to background noises

AI support in such activities can surely be an extension in bandwidth of both front and back of the house staff.

Now, let’s take a closer look and delve deep into these fundamental concepts, understanding their significance in shaping the QSR landscape. With our metaphorical magnifying glasses at the ready, let’s embark on this insightful journey.

Front of the house (FOH)

Picture the last time you stepped into your favorite QSR outlet. The cheerful greeting, the inviting ambience, and the impeccable service – these are the hallmarks of “front of the house.” Its primary focus is on creating a welcoming environment that warms the hearts of the customers while treating them to their meal favorites.

Back of the house (BOH)

While front of the house is working its magic on the diners to coax them to spend more quality time at the outlet, relishing the food they love, behind the scenes, back of the house is busy serving what the customers want with clockwork precision. Together, they both work diligently to ensure that every cog in the well-oiled restaurant engine runs smoothly right from a fully stocked pantry to flawless kitchen operations.

Unifying FOH & BOH

In the fast-paced world of Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs), providing exceptional dining experiences hinges on seamless coordination between front-of-house (FOH) and back-of-house (BOH) operations. The FOH team’s customer interaction complements the culinary expertise of the BOH team. Together, they create an efficient symphony, ensuring accurate orders, timely food preparation, and overall customer satisfaction.

Integrating AI and automation in the QSR industry takes this collaboration to new heights. Automated systems streamline order processing and kitchen operations, while AI-driven tools offer personalized customer interactions, optimizing efficiency and transforming the dining experience. As the QSR industry explores these technologies’ potential, it becomes evident that they can revolutionize food production and service, benefiting customers and businesses alike.

FOH Roadblocks and role of AI

Let’s explore how Artificial Intelligence (AI) strategically addresses Front of House (FOH) roadblocks and reshapes FOH operations for enhanced customer service and operational efficiency. Some of these roadblocks are as follows –

1. FOH Roadblock – Managing high influx of customers

While an increase in foot traffic certainly adds to a restaurant’s reputation, effectively managing the surge in customers poses a significant challenge for the front staff. This challenge is amplified, especially when the restaurant is short-staffed during peak hours.

As an industry with a service-first mindset, overlooking this challenge can lead to poor customer service, inaccuracies in order delivery, increase in wait times and ultimately rise in churn rate.

AI Intervention

To address this challenge, restaurants can leverage AI-powered voice enable ordering assistants and chatbots to enhance their FOH operations. Instead of replacing human staff, AI will serve as an extended support arm for them automating the order-taking (AOT) process. It can interact with customers, gather their preferences and data, and assist with error-free order-taking. This frees up human staff to focus on personalized interactions and special requests while ensuring order accuracy.

2. FOH Roadblock – Customer Wait Time

In recent years, with more people opting for extended stays at home, it is evident that customers have become less patient. This growing demand for quick and efficient services has created a need for fast-ordering experiences across all channels, including in-house, drive-thru, and online platforms.

AI Intervention

One popular trend in the food industry is the use of drive-thrus to collect orders. However, a report by USA Today indicates that wait times in drive-thrus have been increasing since 2021, mainly due to the surge in order volume.

To address this challenge, businesses can harness the power of AI driven recommendation engine models to analyze customer data and order history. By doing so, tailored product recommendations can be made as part of an upselling initiative. Additionally, AI can assist in answering frequently asked questions related to allergen information, menu options, and reservation availability. Furthermore, it can provide real-time updates on order status and estimated time of arrival, thereby setting the right expectations for customers.

3. FOH Roadblock – Suggestive Upselling

In the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) industry, AI serves as a tool to enhance human interactions, rather than replacing them. However, the challenge often lies in the limited front staff’s capacity to cater to each customer’s order promptly. This pressure on the front staff can lead to problems with order accuracy, as they struggle to interact effectively with customers, making selling a difficult task.

AI Intervention

Fortunately, introducing conversational AI can help improve ordering experience and ticket growth. According to Forbes, AI-powered voice assistants can increase the average ticket value by 20-40%. With a voice user interface integrated into the restaurant’s app and powered by conversational AI, customers can engage in verbal interaction, ordering a breeze, even while driving. This approach eliminates the need for an in-person order taker, as AI can recommend popular items and beverages, enticing customers to explore new options and make additional purchases.

Moreover, the availability of 24/7 customer service and support breaks the limitations imposed by front staff’s working hours. AI can automatically enter orders into the restaurant’s Point of Sale (POS) system, notifying the front staff about the details and prioritize orders accordingly. This seamless integration ensures that your order is prepared and ready for pickup once you arrive at the restaurant.

BOH Roadblocks and role of AI

Back of House (BOH) confronts distinct roadblocks that wield significant influence over operations and customer satisfaction. The strategic use of AI promises to convert these roadblocks into pathways for operational efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and an elevated dining experience. Some of these roadblocks are as follows –

1. BOH Roadblock – Server Scheduling & Reservation Management

In busy restaurants or Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs), efficiently allocating server staff to tables is essential for providing excellent customer service. The challenge arises when high foot traffic leads to an imbalance between occupied and vacant tables, potentially causing delays for customers on the waitlist.

AI Intervention

AI implementation can streamline server scheduling and reservation management. By implementing an AI-powered app, AI can act as an intelligent mediator, providing real-time updates to both servers and customers. For servers, the app notifies them about table occupancy status, enabling them to prioritize and attend to customers’ queries and orders promptly. On the other hand, customers on the waitlist are informed about available tables, redirecting them to soon-to-be-vacant ones. AI can provide customers with estimated waiting times for tables. By reserving a table directly from the app, customers can plan their dining experience accordingly. Simultaneously, this reservation alert signals the staff preparing to attend the table, enhancing overall efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Incorporating AI into the restaurant’s workflow empowers QSRs to manage table turnover efficiently, reducing waiting times and ensuring a seamless dining experience for all patrons.

2. BOH Roadblock – Inventory Management & Menu Optimization

For booming Quick-Service Restaurants (QSRs), poor inventory control can directly lead to increased costs and may force restaurants to refrain from promoting certain food items on their menus. Unfortunately, this can drive loyal customers who have come to expect these dishes towards competition. Clearly, inventory management and menu planning are interconnected in more ways than one.

AI Intervention

By integrating AI-powered software with restaurant point of sale (POS) systems, QSRs can track historical inventory and menu data, identifying patterns and updating the availability of ingredients in real-time. With these details, restaurants can make more informed decisions, enabling them to promote available dishes and manage food waste effectively, all while ensuring seamless customer service.

Additionally, by analyzing the availability of ingredients, AI-enabled systems can provide personalized food recommendations to customers through digital menus. This not only helps restaurants maximize their resources but also delights patrons with tailored suggestions that align with their preferences. Embracing AI’s capabilities empowers QSRs to thrive in a competitive landscape while reducing food waste and enhancing the dining experience for their valued customers.

Unlock QSR Intelligence with Rysun

Rysun, your trusted AI, Data, and Digital innovation partner, specializing in QSR success recognizes the criticality of AI implementation in elevating guest experiences. We have been at the forefront in helping restaurants to improve their front-of-the-house engagement and back of the house efficiency to boost topline revenue.

With our AI and data-led solutions, we can you help you to –

  • Accurately forecast orders and enable suggestive selling
  • Simplify guest queries and waitlist management
  • Optimize service time and flow with intelligent server scheduling
  • Provide multilingual interactive support for personalized experiences

Let’s connect to find out we can help you serve your customers better with Data and AI-led innovation

Tags

AI in Quick Service Restaurants

Quick Service Restaurant