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Simplify Digital Ordering & Customer Engagement

Hope Nieman 2024 headshot
Hope Neiman, Chief Marketing Officer, Tillster

Our data shows that AI is streamlining restaurant analytics, personalization, and inventory. What AI opportunities and/or challenges do you foresee in 2024?

AI use in streamlining analytics, personalization and inventory is permeating not just restaurants, but all forms of retail, as well. As a result, consumer expectations are being raised as to the experiences they will encounter by its use.

We see 2 big opportunities and 1 big challenge:

Turn inventory faster and be saddled with fewer perishables that expire. AI is an ideal use case to better track not just inventory expectations, but seasonal trends, planning and tracking items that are new to the offering, and even offering customers “special savings” on things you know they love that may have limited shelf-life remaining. All of this results in better ROI for the restaurant.

Retaining more guests. AI can help look at churn metrics to better understand at what point a guest may be leaving the brand. It also can more directly create offers likely to keep them, meaning you are “paying what’s needed,” but at the same time not paying more than you need to retain them as a customer.

Restaurants need to be certain the right “connection points” exist. The data that is created has to be understandable for use across several touchpoints and the “pipes” should be unified. Not doing so could have ramifications impacting experiences in a negative way.

Kitchen automation, IoT, and robotics are booming. How do you believe they can help solve for rising costs and staffing challenges?

AI, Robotics and IoT is and will radically change the way roles and organizations are designed and work is accomplished. It is already impacting recruiting, staffing and workforce management, learning, communication, employee engagement, as well as how Human Resources and Talent Acquisition functions themselves are defined and add value to the enterprise. To come to full fruition, it has to be combined with accurate people skill data, true predictive analytics (versus reporting), and a willingness/ability to envision how to do work differently.

Roles that require people to do repetitive and routine tasks will be the first to be replaced by RPA followed by sorting and filtering, research, compiling information and data, and communication in areas like policies and procedures, job aids and guidebooks. All of this is happening today. For example, managers use AI to write performance reviews and recruiters use it to produce communication that is more fun and enticing, sort and screen candidates, and set up meetings.

As a result, searches are more accurate, and recruiters find better people faster. The time AI frees up allows recruiters to focus on the candidate experience and higher quality hires.

IT budgets continue to grow, including an increase in implementations of new solutions. What are some best practices for restaurant technology leaders seeking to maximize their investment dollars?

To maximize IT investment in restaurant tech brands must define objectives, meeting goals that cross over to not only their needs, but those of marketing, operations and finance. Key decisions need to include what parts of the stack are critical to “own” and where they should “partner” in order to leverage those partners who themselves are investing in innovative solutions with their own road maps. Also, brands need to consider that their customers are cross channel, so the data must flow to offer personalization for use across all possible visitation points as well as understand their guest use cases to make each interaction as frictionless as possible.

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