More and more businesses are using chatbots to facilitate communication between themselves and their customers, relieve their staff of some responsibilities, and ultimately enhance the customer experience.
If you own a restaurant, you might have wondered if implementing a chatbot is the right call for you. The answer is yes. Chatbots can boost your efficiency, reduce the need for human interaction, save costs, and answer customers’ questions 24/7.
In the article below, we’ll take a closer look at what chatbots are, the main benefits of implementing them, and the eight best uses of chatbots in your restaurant.
What Are Chatbots?
Chatbots are computer programs designed to simulate and process written or spoken human conversation. This allows people to interact with devices as if they were interacting with a real person.
Chatbots don’t all look the same. Some are simple, created just to reply to easy queries with single-line responses. Others are more sophisticated, offering a personalized experience by collecting and processing information.
Chatbots have become so common that you might not even realize when you’re interacting with one. An example would be visiting a product page and having a window pop up on the screen inquiring if you need help.
Chatbots can be an alternative to written FAQs, allowing customers to feel like the experience is more interactive. They can also triage people’s questions and redirect them to a live person if the issue is more complex and requires in-person assistance.
Some people use the terms chatbot and bot interchangeably, but it’s essential to know that they’re not the same. Chatbots aren’t used for malicious purposes, as opposed to bots, which can be used that way. They exist to increase efficiency and help people with basic tasks.
5 Main Benefits of Using Chatbots in Your Restaurant
1. Reduce costs
Instead of hiring additional staff for basic tasks or overwhelming your current staff with more responsibilities, you can pass those along to a chatbot. They don’t need to be paid or take breaks.
Chatbots can engage with your restaurant customers at any time of the day, saving you money in the process.
2. Keep in touch with your customers
In the restaurant industry, out of sight is out of mind. If you don’t constantly engage with your customers, remind them to visit you, and motivate them to come back, they might forget all about you.
Chatbots can help you follow up with customers, send important communications, ask for their feedback, and so on. Use them as part of your reputation management strategy, and you’ll notice an improvement in how customers view you.
3. Save time
The life of a restaurant owner/manager is often busy and chaotic. Cut through some of that chaos by implementing a restaurant chatbot.
You will take some of the pressure off yourself and clear up your schedule so you can focus on more important tasks and optimize your workflow.
4. Increase conversions
If you make a chatbot one of your main restaurant website features, you will be able to intercept customers who visit your website to check out your menu, location, or learn more about your business.
A chatbot can pop up presenting an enticing food offer or a discount coupon code that they can apply at checkout. That way, someone who was just browsing your website could become a first-time or repeat customer just because they saw a deal they couldn’t pass up on.
5. Collect customer data
Restaurant chatbots can also help you gather valuable customer information by asking for their name, email addresses, or food preferences. They can find out customers’ favorite menu items or what they would improve.
This data will help you better understand your customers, make changes to your menu and operation to improve guest experience, and attract more customers with targeted, personalized promotions.
8 Best Uses of Chatbots in Your Restaurant
1. Offer personalized recommendations and menu suggestions
One of the most exciting uses of restaurant chatbots is adding more of a personal touch to your customer interactions.
You might think AI is the opposite of a personal touch. The truth is that chatbots can collect an unlimited amount of information that they can use to provide customers with a more personalized experience.
You can boost customer loyalty by providing recommendations to returning customers based on their previous purchases. You can also make suggestions of new restaurant menu items you think they might like.
2. Upsell and cross-sell
Increase the average order value by suggesting food pairings such as a side of fries with a burger or a larger pizza for just $0.99 extra. As long as you underline the benefit of adding something to their cart (such as free shipping if they add $2 worth of items), they will appreciate the heads up. As part of 2023 food industry trends, offering some additional benefits will increase your chances of success.
Having these questions asked by a chatbot while browsing the website/menu won’t annoy the customer or seem too pushy. It will let them know that you care about making their experience with your restaurant the best it can be.
3. Target customers with special offers, discounts, and promotions
In addition to suggesting personalized menu items and add-ons, a chatbot can entice more customers to place an order by delivering targeted promotions that they won’t be able to resist.
From showing every website visitor the same daily promotion to personalizing promotions based on user recurrency and behavior, this is a strategy you can’t go wrong with.
Re-engage old customers with a 10% discount on their next order, entice new ones with free delivery on their first order, or ask recurrent customers whether they’d like to order their favorite meal again.
4. Allow users to view your menu and order
You can integrate your menu into the chatbot to allow customers to browse it and even place an order online without interacting with any staff members.
You can also include answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding the menu and ordering process, so customers don’t abandon the cart if they stumble upon an issue.
Considering that more and more customers are looking for contactless ways of ordering and paying for their food, you’ll be growing your customer base and increasing brand loyalty.
5. Enable reservations
Another thing a restaurant chatbot can help you with is accepting restaurant reservations. Most customers prefer to have a table waiting for them instead of worrying about table availability on busy days.
They also prefer reserving a table online instead of calling. On your side, this also eliminates any potential human error, whether it’s misunderstanding the reservation time or the number of people to expect.
The chatbot can also send a confirmation email to the user, as well as an email reminding them of the reservation ahead of time. That way, you can remove friction from your online customer experience without spending a fortune.
6. Simplify payments
Besides allowing customers to order food, your chatbot can also process payments. Allow customers to pay with their credit/debit card or using services like PayPal or Google Pay.
The chatbot can automatically send them the bill so they can make sure everything is in order. This simplifies the payment process by making it 100% contactless and seamlessly integrated into your restaurant chatbot.
7. Ask for feedback and reviews
Honest feedback is what helps your business grow. You want your customers to share both the positive and the negative aspects they encountered so you can work on improving their experience in the future.
After customers place an order, ask them to rate the ordering experience on a scale of 1 to 5 and share any feedback they might have. Based on their feedback, the chatbot can take action if there’s a basic question or issue or connect the customer with a real-life person who can help them further.
Alternatively, you can set the chatbot to ask for a testimonial, with permission to use it on your website/social media. The more positive reviews you get from satisfied customers, the more trustworthy your restaurant will seem.
8. Answer questions
As mentioned above, chatbots can be used as a more interactive FAQ page. Create a list of questions people often ask and let the chatbot do the hard work.
It can guide your customers through any easy questions they might have, including follow-up questions to their initial queries.
This offers a more personalized and pleasant experience than sorting through a long list of FAQs trying to find an answer to your question.
Chatbots are handy tools to have in any business. They help business owners and customers alike, so they’re a win-win situation.
Chatbots can save a lot of precious time, energy, and money for a restaurant owner, without too much effort. For their customers, they can streamline the website user experience, ordering and paying for food, as well as finding answers to essential questions.
Overall, using chatbots can improve the customer experience, increase brand loyalty, and attract more customers to your restaurant without a huge investment. Implementing one will make you wonder how you’ve lived without one for so long.