Why AI-powered personalisation is crucial for QSRs

Why AI-powered personalisation is crucial for QSRs

One of the world’s biggest business buzzes in recent weeks has been the news of McDonald’s US$300m purchase of Dynamic Yield; an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered personalisation platform designed to improve the consumer experience. The message of this unlikely marriage between cheeseburgers and AI is clear: the digital age is here, and the time to jump on the hoverboard is now.

It’s no secret that a personalised buying experience is a valuable tool for boosting customer satisfaction, and it’s clear that AI has lifted the bar in this area. Venues that have invested in the latest tech can now provide a personalised home page, suggest items based on what a customer has viewed and bought before, accept loyalty and discount codes and auto-fill payment details. These all combine to create a seamless purchase experience.

The entrance by McDonald’s into the world of AI shows that this emerging tech is not just a cool tool for retailers. Customers are now coming to expect – even demand – a high level of personalisation as part of their dining experience too. If it’s missing, it’s interpreted that a brand is behind the times, or just doesn’t care about their needs. This can result in a lost sale – not to mention the negative impact on engagement, brand perception and loyalty.


‘Smart’ suggestions remove diner overload

Bland, standardised marketing and promotion are no longer enough; to guide a customer towards a sale (or upsell), a personalised experience is now necessary. Psychologist Barry Schwartz says in The Paradox of Choice that too much choice can overwhelm customers, which is where AI-driven personalisation comes into its own.

Smart suggestions based on a customer’s previous dining experience help prevent this overload, lead a customer to buy more and enjoy a more satisfying experience. This positive experience encourages them to return in the future.

Restaurants and cafés – particularly quick service restaurants (QSRs) – are quickly realising the benefits of offering AI-powered dining to their customers. The McDonalds example is a great case in point. They have clearly jumped at the opportunity to invest in emerging technology to increase their market share by streamlining and personalising their customer offering.

The most obvious benefit of AI is to help guide customers with their food choice decisions. For a new customer, reading a menu for the first time can be overwhelming and confusing. AI removes this stress by presenting intuitive options that narrow down choices to what the diner is more likely to enjoy.

Similarly, a returning customer may become frustrated with traditional restaurant processes if they already know what they like and want. AI combats this by presenting them with previous order details and makes it easy to re-order, along with up- and cross-sell suggestions based on past buying behaviour. Auto-filled payment details complete the painless dining process.

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