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Newk’s Eatery automates voice ordering with AI

Newk’s Eatery is deploying AI to assist with phone orders.

A fast-casual chain that operates and franchises 100 stores in 16 states is using artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline its handling of phone orders.

Newk’s Eatery is deploying the Kea voice AI ordering system to automate its phone order channel and digitize its off-premise business, which has accounted for one-third of all its orders since the COVID-19 pandemic. The retailer currently operates the Kea AI solution in all of its corporate locations and is expanding the platform into the franchise network in 2023.

At one of the initial pilot locations, the kea solution managed 3,048 orders placed over the course of two weeks, saving employees 182 hours’ worth of manually handling phone calls and providing them with more time to focus on in-person customer service.

Within the first three months of utilizing the Kea solution in its corporate stores, Newk’s was able to cut costs by eliminating 50% of the phone lines in the pilot restaurants.

Using natural language processing, the Kea solution triages incoming calls, transcribes, upsells, and confirms orders. Using a PCI-compliant system, kea then processes customer payment and sends orders to the restaurant POS. The solution also ensures there is always a human “in the loop” of the call, in case customers need help or prefer to speak to someone directly.

“When callers can’t get through to a cashier, we risk upsetting loyal customers and losing a significant segment of our customer base,” said Adam Karveller, VP of IT at Newk’s Eatery. “Not only that, if the phone is constantly ringing off the hook, we also risk losing employees who are stressed and overwhelmed, compounding the labor shortage problem we already face.”

“When we were looking at options for to-go ordering, we didn’t want a one-size-fits-all technology. We wanted a customer-centric solution that specialized in the phone channel,” said Mark Reedy, VP of franchise operations. “We found that Kea was much more accurate and user-friendly than the other options, and based on the check averages going up, we know that it’s been more successful too.”

Based in Jackson, Miss., Newk’s Eatery is a fast-casual chain that operates and franchises 100 units in 16 states.

Anthony’s Pizza streamlines phone ordering with AI

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza is also leveraging technology to enhance the processing of phone orders. The fast food pizza chain is deploying the ConverseNow voice AI technology platform for restaurants in all of its 60 Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza locations across the East Coast. Equipped with conversational intelligence, ConverseNow AI-powered virtual ordering assistants replicate natural human dialogue to gauge customer sentiment and guide conversations. They can detect nuances and predict ordering behaviors, as well as upsell items based on contextual data and information available to them in real-time.

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