Fast-food giant Wendy’s is advancing into the future with the introduction of AI technology, powered by Google, to take drive-thru orders. The company is promising a revolution in customer service, claiming, “It’s a personalized, responsive experience for every customer.”
As reported by Restaurant Business, Wendy’s has embarked on a significant initiative to incorporate AI into their drive-thru operations. This project, named “Wendy’s FreshAI,” has been developed in partnership with Google Cloud and is currently being tested at four Wendy’s-owned locations in Columbus, Ohio.
The innovation aims to redefine the drive-thru experience, according to Wendy’s Chief Technology Officer, Matt Spessard. “Wendy’s FreshAI is not just a speaker and a microphone. It’s a personalized, responsive experience for every customer,” Spessard elaborates.
Wendy’s move reflects a wider trend within the fast-food industry toward embracing AI technology. Other major chains, including McDonald’s, along with smaller ones like Checkers, Krystal, White Castle, Hardee’s, Carl’s Jr., and Dunkin’, are also exploring or integrating AI into their services.
The use of AI in drive-thrus brings several benefits, notably reducing labor needs and enhancing efficiency. Trials have shown promising results; at one test site, service times were significantly faster than the market average. The AI system, Wendy’s FreshAI, demonstrated an impressive 86 percent accuracy rate in orders without human assistance, which improved to 99 percent with staff support.
However, implementing AI in drive-thrus presents certain challenges. Diverse customer orders, variations in regional dialects, and accents can complicate order processing. “There are more than 200 billion ways to order a Dave’s Double,” remarked Spessard, underlining the potential for increased errors and the complexities involved in ensuring customer satisfaction.
Undeterred by these hurdles, Wendy’s is continuing to roll out its AI drive-thru technology. The company plans to expand the technology to additional locations this year and offer it to franchisees for further testing in the near future.