Technology

Wingstop to test AI phone-answering system

Automating phone orders will bring the chain closer to its goal of digitizing 100% of transactions.
Wingstop restaurant exterior at night
As much as 30% of Wingstop transactions come over the phone. / Photograph: Shutterstock

Wingstop is testing the use of voice bots to answer the phone. 

The 1,959-unit wing chain is partnering with ConverseNow to use its “virtual ordering assistant” in some locations. The bot will be able to take multiple phone orders at once, cutting down on hold times and dropped calls and freeing up employees.

The bot will also be able to make recommendations based on what a person orders. And it can speak both English and Spanish. Customers can still ask to talk to a human if they want to.

Wingstop is the latest restaurant chain to try voice ordering, which promises to both save time for employees and improve sales with automatic upselling. Del Taco, Domino’s, Panera, Checkers and Newk’s Eatery are using similar tech either on the phone or at the drive-thru squawk box.

It makes sense for Wingstop, which hopes to one day digitize 100% of its transactions and which still takes a lot of orders over the phone. Digital sales accounted for 60% of its overall revenue in the fourth quarter, an all-time high. Meanwhile, as much as 30% of the chain’s volume comes over the phone, then-CEO Charlie Morrison said last year. 

“I think there's opportunities as it relates to phone orders that are still in front of us and how can we make that a digital transaction and take pressure off of the front counter,” Wingstop CEO Michael Skipworth said in May, according to a transcript on financial services site Sentieo.

The companies did not say how many restaurants would be part of the pilot.

ConverseNow’s tech is in more than 1,200 stores in 46 states, in both phone and drive-thru. Other partners include Domino’s, Blake’s Lotaburger, Fazoli’s and Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza.

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