SoundHound, a voice artificial intelligence company, has partnered with ChowNow, an online ordering and marketing platform designed to support independent restaurants, to enable restaurants to automatically answer and respond to inbound customer calls.
Restaurants using ChowNow’s platform now have access to SoundHound’s Smart Answering Service, which handles incoming customer queries via a voice assistant or SMS, eliminating the need to choose between answering the phone and serving in-house customers.
The system uploads and assimilates company website information. It then uses SoundHound’s speech recognition and natural language understanding—leveraging generative AI—to give tailored, conversational responses to customer phone queries about menu items, opening hours and other frequently asked questions.
If customers want to place an order, Smart Answering will send them an SMS that routes them to the restaurant’s ChowNow ordering page where they can make their selections. The technology aims to help restaurant staff during busy, peak hours.
“When we say that we help independent restaurants, we mean more than simply saving them money. We’re helping them streamline operations, create more bandwidth, and ultimately, forge stronger connections with their customers,” said Eric Jaffe, ChowNow co-founder and COO. “What we love about SoundHound is how its technology helps achieve all of the above, giving restaurants an accessible, seamless way to increase their order volume so that they can dedicate their energy to building a better customer experience.”
The fully automated agent can also respond using custom answers or actions, responses that facilitate reservations and more by sending a relevant link via SMS, taking a message, or routing the call to a member of staff on another number. The service can also handle many calls at once and is available 24/7, according to the company.
“Smart Answering was specifically developed to help restaurants go from coping to thriving when it comes to inbound calls,” said James Hom, chief product officer at SoundHound. “By joining forces with ChowNow, we can help make sure restaurants don’t have to let the phone ring out, and that they can capture critical revenue even during peak times when they can’t always pick-up.”
Restaurants are increasingly leveraging AI to streamline order-taking and tackle labor shortages. Wendy’s and White Castle are both trying out AI chatbots through the drive-through. Last week, IHOP announced a partnership with Google Cloud to use its Recommendations AI to provide personalized food recommendations for online orders. Meanwhile, other companies are jumping on the voice-ordering bandwagon and providing new technology. DoorDash recently announced its launch of a new answering service for restaurants and will announce select operators soon.