Pizza Fans are Loyal to Call-In Ordering
If you own or manage a pizzeria, the scene is all too familiar: it’s a bustling Friday night. The phones are ringing off the hook, the kitchen is a whirlwind of activity, and hungry customers are anxiously awaiting their piping hot pizzas. Amid the chaos, you wonder, “Is there a better way to handle this?” The answer could lie in the transformative power of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Loyal to the ‘za … and Ordering by Phone
Many pizza customers are loyal — not only to their favorite two or three brands, but also to one of their favorite ordering channels — picking up the phone and calling the local pizza restaurant to place their order directly. Despite increases in online, third-party, and in-app orders, phone-in orders still represent a fairly significant portion of a typical pizzeria’s business. One Pizza-focused online media outlet reported that 40% of survey respondents call in their orders, either for carryout or delivery.
Restaurants Not Operating at Full Capacity
A third of restaurants can’t operate at full capacity due to lack of staff on any given shift, having a human handle every phone order is probably not the most efficient way to go.
Staffing the phone for order-taking inevitably leads to a host of follow-on questions and concerns: can you staff appropriately for surges such as game day? Can you subscribe to enough phone lines to handle surges? At what cost?
You might be first on their list, but you’re not their ‘only’. If a caller gets a busy signal, voicemail, no answer, or waits on hold for a significant amount of time, will they give up, hang up, and call their second favorite pizzeria? If this happens often enough, will they remove you as one of their favorites…permanently?
Time to talk? We’d love to.
Phone Ordering Best Practices
You want to serve guests who call in their orders, so we thought we’d share our favorite five best practices.
Train staff to be cheerful and helpful, use proper phone etiquette, and use a simple script when they answer. For example, “Thank you for calling Vinnie’s Handcrafted Pizza. What can I craft for you today?”
To ensure speedy service, consider offering package deals and/or a limited menu on game day / during anticipated surge periods.
Have enough phone lines to handle surges in order volume. The method to determine this number is a topic far too detailed to cover in this article. It can, however, be easily researched using your favorite search engine or ChatGPT.
Staff appropriately. Look at your sales history to determine staffing levels before, during, and after the events that cause surges in sales.
Train everyone in the most efficient way to take a phone order, how to handle challenging phone calls, and how to best upsell.
Alternatives to Staffing for Phone Order Surges
Considering today’s staff recruitment, retention, and turnover challenges, adequately staffing for your full phone-in order volume may seem a bit daunting.
Some restaurants are using creative alternatives. What are your options, and what are some of the tradeoffs?
Outsource phone-in orders to a call center
Pros: Sometimes it’s better to plan for someone at another location to answer the phone.
- Outsource recruitment and training.
- Staffed to scale up during order surges and back down during normal periods.
- Agents are likely to follow the script, including upsell, since they are coached to do so and are evaluated on their performance.
- Frees restaurant staff to focus on other highly valuable tasks such as serving on-site guests, crafting pizzas, and so on.
- May be located overseas and staffed by non-native speakers, which could make it difficult for guests to communicate and may dissuade guests who recognize that they may be giving their order to a third party located halfway around the world.
- May not offer the languages you need.
- Might not be able to answer unexpected questions for which there is not a scripted answer, such as ‘How busy are you?’
Take call-in orders with an AI Ordering solution
Pros: Pizzerias that use Voice AI ordering to accept phone-in orders experience a range of positive benefits and outcomes. You fought to become your customers’ number one choice. Why not keep your favored spot in their minds and hearts?
- Always answers, never goes to busy or hold.
- Never calls in sick.
- Handles multiple languages.
- Upsells, without fail.
- Frees restaurant staff to focus on other highly valuable tasks.
- Levels the playing field against national brands that have massive resources to invest in guest experiences. This gives local pizzeria customers as good an experience as they would get with the big brands.
- Can text guests a link to pay for their order, which avoids the security risk of having the guest read their card number over the phone.
- Beyond ordering and payment, you can train AI to give driving directions, hours of operation, and even answer questions about donations to community groups and causes.
- Can recognize loyalty program members (based on phone number); can be trained to greet members and extend special offers.
- Can revert to a live human team member if there are issues that prevent AI from completing the order and payment.
- Deliver consistent, friendly interactions. Voicify AI Ordering maintains a professional and friendly tone, boosting positive customer sentiment.
- Learns and improves continuously. The system’s continuous learning enhances the relevance of responses, improving the customer experience over time.
- Rapid roll-out = short time to benefit (within days), Voicify AI Ordering delivers immediate relief for your staff, and ensures a consistently top-tier customer service experience.
- Goes beyond the order; confirms payment success, sets a timeline for delivery or pickup, and even solicits feedback on the guest experience after the order is complete.
Cons: AI Voice can seem robotic and impersonal. Customers may wonder: ‘How can I be sure I’m calling my local pizza joint when the voice sounds anything but human?’ Balance this risk with Voicify’s industry leading conversational AI, that understands your customers and can deal with complex, tricky or piecemeal orders.
Time will tell whether pizza fans will continue to be as loyal to phone-in orders as they are today. For successful, growing pizzerias, this may be a good time to consider alternatives to having staff answer all those calls.
Ready to see if AI ordering is right for your pizzeria?
Schedule your personal demo today!
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