Picture this: A line of customers wait to place an order at a restaurant while the cashier asks them to hang tight and takes an order via phone instead. It’s an inefficient—and perhaps inconsiderate—way of doing business, but staff shortages have made it increasingly difficult to ensure every customer is helped in a timely fashion, and not answering each phone call can mean the loss of an order.
Digital ordering is helping restaurants solve these issues by removing the burden of taking every order off employees. Digital ordering has also allowed customers to order how and when they prefer. But for many restaurants with robust off-premises channels, diners are long accustomed to calling in their orders.
For these reasons, text ordering is an increasingly great way for restaurants to meet customers where they are, especially as artificial intelligence has grown and is now able to problem solve as though it were an additional employee. In fact, it’s a channel that can convert customers quicker than other modes of doing business, like third-party delivery platforms.
OrderAI, a software solution offered by cloud-based restaurant management solution HungerRush 360, offers text ordering for restaurants of all sizes. A recent focus group conducted by OrderAI showed that first time users were able to complete an order in just 1 minute and 40 seconds. On a return trip, those same users were able to complete a subsequent order in just 25 seconds.
“What we’ve seen is that the stores who have implemented OrderAI and been using it for over 12 months are now receiving 15 percent of their sales via text order,” says Ali Husain, chief product developer at HungerRush, and the inventor and founder of OrderAI. “And there are several other additional advantages, too. From a revenue standpoint, on busy nights you get fewer incidents of abandonment—those customers who used to call a couple of times and hear the phone ring and ring and give up—if you convert them into text ordering customers, they begin to order 15 percent more frequently than somebody who calls.”
HungerRush’s OrderAI text ordering is as straightforward as it might sound: A customer texts their order to the restaurant location’s established phone number. Once the order is made, the customer can then submit payment through the platform. Ultimately, a ticket seamlessly arrives on the kitchen display system at the restaurant.
One of the biggest advantages of the platform is its ability to ease the reliance on front-of-house employees to receive orders. That’s great news for operators in the midst of a labor crisis, but even fully-staffed restaurants will find there are advantages to keeping employees off the phone and engaged in helping with tasks around the restaurant, or helping those customers waiting to place their order in person.
“The beauty of the system is that even if you are short staffed, you can still receive the same number of orders as if you were not,” Husain says. “In fact, you’ll likely receive more orders. It also frees up staff to focus on other things, like the customer experience. One thing we see is that it’s a seamless exchange. Nobody has to ask the customer to repeat what they said because the music is too loud in the restaurant, or the person ordering has bad cell reception. And as we like to say, ‘the chatbot is never in a bad mood.’”
And while text ordering is beginning to enter its adoption phase and shows signs of becoming a steady channel for leading industry brands, OrderAI is just one component of HungerRush’s suite of apps that help unite different modes of ordering under one umbrella. It’s why, after creating OrderAI, Husain decided to sell the platform to HungerRush and join the company in developing solutions that will help restaurants become better at what they do into the future.
“HungerRush is really focused on innovation,” Husain says. “What they’re trying to do is pull together all of the pieces of restaurant technology and create a holistic ecosystem. For the past 20 years or more, all of this technological innovation has been super exciting for restaurants, but it’s also been fragmented and siloed. You’d have different platforms for your POS system, and taking inventory, and online ordering. HungerRush unites everything from text ordering, to your POS, to QR code menus under one roof. It’s clear that restaurant operators want a cohesive system, and that’s what we offer.”
For more on text ordering, visit the HungerRush website.