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The past two years have had a profound impact on businesses across multiple verticals, and quick service restaurants (QSRs) were no exception. To further complicate matters, QSRs are also grappling with unprecedented labor shortages and increased commodity costs.

Restaurant Business Online (RBO) recently summarized the results of a survey, conducted by the National Restaurant Association. RBO stated that industry-wide “78% of operators said they do not have enough employees to handle all the business available to them. Nearly 40% reported that they were at least 20% below their staffing targets.”

One only needs to visit their local restaurants to see how this issue has played out. While some QSRs have fared better than others, many have had to implement some combination of closing dining rooms, narrowing menu options, and limiting store hours. Labor shortage effects don’t stop there, as speed of service is also reduced. Labor experts widely agree that the current landscape isn’t a blip, but rather a long-term shift.

So, how should your business be responding? Kin + Carta’s partnership with Google Cloud is helping our clients by leveraging artificial intelligence solutions to increase their operational efficiency while improving customer satisfaction (CSAT).

Efficiency doesn’t have to come at the cost of customer experience — we can achieve both! Kin + Carta works with several top QSRs, utilizing human-centered design principles in an agile framework. Our projects yield operational improvements and innovation that deliver a better customer experience, while shortening time-to-value.

At the center of these solutions is a combination of products and technologies. The foundation is built on a product developed by Google called Dialogflow, which enables organizations to create virtual agents that naturally and accurately handle multi-turn conversations without needing to engage a human. Kin + Carta leverages the power of Google Cloud to build solutions to efficiently scale horizontally and effectively meet customer needs.

To illustrate how this technology works, the following diagram shows the basic steps that take place for one conversational turn within a session.

Dialogflow diagram - Steps that take place for one conversational turn of a session
Source: Dialogflow CX Basics

  1. The end user types or says something, creating what’s known as end-user input.
  2. Your user interface or integration system receives the input and forwards it to the Dialogflow API in a detect intent request.
  3. The Dialogflow API receives the detect intent request. It matches the input to an intent or form parameter, sets additional parameters as needed, and updates the session state. If it needs to call a webhook-enabled fulfillment, it sends a webhook request to your webhook service. Note: If a webhook request is not necessary, you can proceed to step 6.
  4. Your webhook service receives the webhook request. Your service takes any necessary action (e.g., calling external APIs, querying or updating a database).
  5. Your webhook service builds a response and sends a webhook response back to Dialogflow.
  6. Dialogflow creates a detect intent response. If a webhook was called, it uses the response provided in the webhook response. If no webhook was called, it uses the static response defined in the agent. Dialogflow sends a detect intent response to your user interface or integration system.
  7. Your user interface or integration system receives the detect intent response and forwards the text or audio response to the end-user.
  8. The end-user sees or hears the response.

As the process above outlines the steps for a single turn of a conversation, you can begin to see why a well thought out conversational design is so critical to ensuring a good user experience.

The next blog in this three-part series will focus on how Kin + Carta leverages human-centered design to build the right thing, while employing our conversational design best practices to build the thing right.

It is essential to have good tools, but it is also essential that the tools should be used in the right way
Wallace D. Wattles, American writer

Are you ready to enhance your customer experience using conversational solutions?

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