After testing a voice AI ordering system in its corporate stores to operate the phone channel, Newk’s Eatery is rolling out the technology to all 100 of its franchised locations.
“When callers can’t get through to a cashier, we risk upsetting loyal customers and losing a significant segment of our customer base,” Adam Karveller, VP of IT, said in a company press release. “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.”
Powered by Kea, the platform took 3,048 orders over two weeks at one of the initial locations, which resulted in 182 hours worth of phone calls that employees were able to use to focus on hospitality. With only three months into using the platform, Newk’s had been able to cut costs by eliminating 50% of calls answered by restaurant staff.
“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,” Mark Reedy, VP of franchise operations, said in the release. “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.
Using natural language processing, Kea triages incoming calls, transcribes, upsells and confirms orders. The PCI-compliant system also processes the payment and sends orders to the restaurant POS. While natural-language processing has improved significantly in the last three years, Newk’s clientele wasn’t used to talking to AI, an issue Kea addressed by ensuring there was always a human in the loop in case customers needed help or preferred to speak to someone directly.
Founded by CEO Adam Ahmad in 2018, Kea has raised $21 million for expansion plans to date.