A chat bot is, as the name implies, a “robot” that is designed to “chat.” This computer program was created to simulate conversations over the internet. You may wonder what this artificial intelligence can do for your restaurant? One of the most important tasks it undertakes is automating customer service and support, giving your potential guests answers to their questions in real time instead of having to wait for hours, days or even weeks for an answer.
Smart Web Restaurant reported on a survey conducted by Swapratim Roy, an internet chat bot specialist. When Roy sent out the message, “Hi, what are your opening hours?” to almost 100 restaurants using Facebook Messenger, 5 percent of restaurants took between 2 to 12 hours to respond, 30 percent responded in a week, and 70 percent did not respond at all. In a world of constant online communication, that can cost you an incredible number of customers.
Now let’s take a look at that same scenario, only this time you have a chat bot in place to answer your guest’s most common questions. “Hi, what are your opening hours?” This time, your potential guest receives an immediate response. “We open at 11am for lunch and will be happy to serve you.” Better yet? In addition to opening hours, the bot could reply with your special for the day or ask if they would like to see the menu which your bot just happens to have a link to. Nice.
If you’ve been in the restaurant industry for any length of time, you’ve seen the changes. Your guests would rather make a reservation online or respond with a text instead of a phone call. Look around your dining room or bar and you’ll likely observe a large percentage of your guests typing away on their smartphones. The statistics say it all: 89 percent of consumers prefer to engage with businesses via text.
Social Media and Chat Bots
Chat bots are particularly important in the world of social media, unless you have a staff member that lies in wait for every message and corresponds in record time. It’s important to engage customers where they live. There are multiple templates that you can use including pizza deliver chat bots, review chat bots, and birthday bots.
Some restaurants have even deployed chat bots to take reservations and online orders. Yes, orders. Can you imagine the time and space that would free up for your once inundated employees? A chat bot can share the menu, take the order, set up delivery, and even process the payment. You may be a little tentative when considering replacing a human with a chat bot and, understandably so. Of course, that depends upon your human. Chat bots can be programmed to respond to hundreds of different questions and scenarios that a potential customer could throw their way. And, of course, they always have the option of asking for human assistance.
A prime example of a successful bot is Domino’s Pizza’s Twitter. Customers can order pizza by sharing an emoji. The Domino’s bots route the order and ask additional questions if needed.
Where to start in this world of artificial intelligence and online communication?
One of the most successful arenas to engage in this type of software programming is with a Facebook Messenger chat bot. Not only does this engage customers via Facebook, it also allows you to embed a live customer chat widget on your website. From this plugin, your guests can have a live conversation with a human, leave a message, or interact with a chat bot. What do you need to get started? A Facebook page.
Keep in mind that chat bots aren’t just for quick and easy answers. Like most robots, they have memory. If a customer has asked them about a particular menu item, they can contact that individual when the special comes up again or even let them know what your daily specials are.
The most enjoyable aspect of this business endeavor will probably be giving your bot a personality. You’ll want a bot that stands for your brand, with a consistent voice and friendly (in most cases) tone. Then you’ll need to hash out the most common questions and correct replies. These may include hours, specials, and loyalty programs. Ultimately, the chat should lead to a call to action such as a reservation or a link to your website. Happy chatting.