The Wall Street Journal reports that "White Castle, McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Dunkin’ are all testing AI-driven chatbots in drive-throughs. The bots 'talk' through drive-through speakers, with the order tally popping up on a screen for customers to review. Workers on headsets listen in, ready to intervene if things go awry.
"The robots, which employ conversational-style AI algorithms used by technologies such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, can take burger orders, substitute cheddar for American cheese and thank customers for their patronage.
"They also are programmed to encourage customers to binge on an extra burger or a dessert. Unlike a human, chatbots are never shy about selling more, nor do they need a break or get distracted by other business, said Michael Guinan, White Castle’s vice president of operations services.
"Some customers say they are sick of cranky fast-food workers who can’t hear their orders through defective speaker boxes, and look forward to the robot revolution. A number of restaurant workers agree."
One concern: "Drive-through chatbot creators are debating just how human to make their attendants’ speech. Too lifelike could scare customers, while too robotic isn’t engaging enough."
- KC's View:
This latter concern is an interesting one, but also probably temporary - at a certain point, I suspect, we'll all get used to the blurred line between people and technology, and will just be glad to have an attentive, non-confrontational voice to guide us through various experiences.
We're just at the beginning of this revolution. It will be fascinating to see how - and how quickly - the physical store and e-commerce experiences will be changed and improved by the addition of AI-driven chatbots.