“Can I take your order?” asks Wendy’s new conversational AI
US fast-food giant Wendy’s has unveiled plans to pilot conversational AI technology at a drive-thru in Colombus, Ohio, from next month.
According to the brand, which introduced the first modern pick-up window in the industry over 50 years ago, the trial will use new generative AI offerings, such as Vertex AI, to have conversations with customers, understand made-to-order requests and generate responses to frequently asked questions.
Wendy’s said the AI will be powered by Google’s foundational large language models (LLMs) that use data from its menu, business rules and logic for conversation guardrails, to integrate with restaurant hardware and the point-of-sale system.
By leveraging Google’s LLMs, the fast-food chain said it seeks to make the ordering process more simple so that employees can focus on serving food and offering improved customer service.
“Google Cloud’s generative AI technology creates a huge opportunity for us to deliver a truly differentiated, faster and frictionless experience for our customers, and allows our employees to continue focusing on making great food and building relationships with fans that keep them coming back time and again,” said Todd Penegor, president and CEO of Wendy’s.
Thomas Kurian, CEO at Google Cloud, said that generative AI is fundamentally changing how people interact with brands, and claimed that Wendy’s integration of this technology will set a new standard for drive-thru experiences for the quick-service industry.
However, Wendy’s was not always keen on the idea of using conversational AI.
According to the chain, over 75% of its customers choose drive-thru as their preferred ordering channel and delivering a seamless ordering experience using AI automation can be difficult due to the complexities of menu options, special requests, and ambient noise.
For example, because customers can fully customise their orders and food is prepared to-go, Wendy’s said, this presents a number of possible order combinations, leaving room for miscommunication or incorrect orders.
“Google Cloud’s generative AI capabilities can now bring a new automated ordering experience to the drive-thru that is intended to enhance the experience that customers, employees and franchisees expect from Wendy’s,” the fast-food chain said in a statement.
Elsewhere, industries are also beginning to tap into AI, particularly conversational AI, to enhance their offerings. In healthcare for instance, health tech firm Talking Medicines has recently launched a new AI tool called Drug-GPT to provide insights into doctor and patient views on various medications.
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