Robots will soon be replacing QSR kiosks

As the Quick-Serve Industry continues on its hyper-competitive path; management is turning to robots for help. Labor constraints are the number one issue for restaurants as labor costs explode and resources diminish.  Will customers adapt to the technology is the number one question, but  Surveys like the one conducted by SOTI show that 76% of retail customers prefer self-service technologies.  And interestingly enough, this preference is not limited to tech-savvy millennials. Another recent report from Tillster’s shows that the majority of customers would visit Quick-Serve restaurants more often if self-service kiosks were offered. Chains like McDonald’s and Panera Bread have heard this preference and have implemented ordering kiosk technology at their stores with Taco Bell not far behind. But before you run out and purchase those kiosks, keep in mind that consumers only like technology if the technology is faster than talking to a human or avoids waiting in a long line.

Studies show that consumers prefer self serve options but are kiosks the answer?

By improving the customer experience, self-service technology improves the bottom-line by minimizing labor costs and increasing sales. A recent case study by Appetize showed an average check size increase at McDonalds of 30% when consumers used a self-serve kiosk; Taco Bell saw an average increase of 20% when their consumers placed a digital order instead of with a human cashier. Unlike a human cashier, kiosks don’t forget to suggest additional items and consumers respond with larger orders.  But are kiosks the real future or would a humanoid robot like C-3PO behind the counter be a better option.  It would definitely be a crowd pleaser as we venture into the future as depicted in our favorite sci-fi movies.

The Q3 Bot uses natural language processing and artificial intelligence technology to converse with customers.

Quartile III Robotics based out of Miami Beach FL is set to release their Natural Language Processing or NLP software that can be used on a kiosk or with a 5’6” Q3 humanoid robot.  Just as if speaking with another human, this artificial intelligence software allows a customer to talk a Q3 robot which is a big hit for kids and adults alike.  Within the AI itself are robust algorithms that can understand the customers intent or implied statements versus just a series of questions with related answers.  It can also learn from its management team when issues arise.

This technology is the next step; especially for a QSR offering 24-hour service and expects to pay anywhere from $63,500 to $87,600 per year per cashier in labor costs alone. Add in hiring costs, training, benefits and HR management and that number increases dramatically. Probably the most exciting attribute of robotic employees is that they show up to work every day.

What’s Ahead

Tabloid Newspaper MetroUK reported finding infection-causing bacteria on touchscreen kiosks at all 8 locations in England that were tested causing a storm of social media panic. The report failed to mention that the human body is rife with this same bacteria and are not an active threat to human health. Unfortunately, given the sensationalistic nature of social media, this report may not go away and many others may spring up.  But a humanoid talking robot may attract customers just based on its novelty and unless you’re going to shake its hand, there won’t be any bacterial press about it.