With Kea.ai, guests and team members can be assured all calls will be answered and staff will be notified, ensuring there is a “human in the loop,” according to a joint news release. Ten Hopdoddy restaurant locations will be in the testing phase of the AI tool, including three in Austin, some in Dallas and one in Houston at Rice Village. A comprehensive rollout at all locations is slated for this summer.
The move is prompted by a nationwide labor shortage affecting the restaurant industry, officials said. When restaurants are understaffed, constantly ringing phones cause stress to employees and customers, Kea spokesperson Gabriela Lund said in an email.
“At Hopdoddy we value people, so we put both our guests and team members first. Our team members get stressed when they’re too busy to get to the phone, knowing that a guest needs us, so we wanted to make their lives easier,” Hopdoddy vice president of marketing Jennifer Faren said. “We’re excited to leverage a technology that improves both the guest and team member experience.”
Using natural language processing, Kea triages incoming calls, transcribes, upsells and confirms orders then processes payment, automatically sending phone orders to be fulfilled.
Kea integrates with Olo, the tablets servers and cashiers use to enter food orders, which then sends orders to the kitchen. In the case that a guest ever needs additional assistance, or the call drops, there’s always a Kea operator that will interject and speak to the customer in real time.
“It’s important to us that AI makes jobs easier and doesn’t take away the human element. So we strive to work with restaurants that are aligned with that vision,” Kea CEO and founder Adam Ahmad said. “Knowing Hopdoddy is a high-quality burger bar with even higher standards, we’re honored that kea meets these standards. We’re looking forward to supporting team members that really care about what they do so they can be present in the restaurant.”