How a “Cashier in the Cloud” Helped Newk’s Eatery Customers and Cashiers

How a “Cashier in the Cloud” Helped Newk’s Eatery Customers and Cashiers

Fri, Feb 3, 2023 •
3:43 AM EST

Restaurants are understaffed and under pressure. The labor shortage has hit the restaurant industry harder than ever, making it difficult for employees to get basic tasks done. For example, when it’s rush hour and the phone is ringing off the hook, it’s nearly impossible to serve guests in the restaurant and answer the phone at the same time. When hospitality is a key value for your business, not answering the phone not only impacts your brand image but also your bottom line.

“When people who are used to placing orders to-go can’t get through to a cashier, we risk upsetting loyal customers and losing a huge segment of our customer base. Not only that, but we also risk losing employees who are stressed and overwhelmed,” said Adam Karveller, VP of Information Technology at Newk’s Eatery. “If this problem doesn’t get resolved, it compounds itself – stressed employees could quit, leaving the restaurant even more short-staffed, and leaving more phone calls unanswered.”

Newk’s Eatery is a family-founded chain with over 100 locations in 13 states. One of the keys to Newk’s success has been balancing hospitality and innovation. Over the last decade, the brand has undergone a digital transformation and the company was ready to incorporate ordering technology to address the problem of unanswered phones. But the Newk’s team knew they didn’t want a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, they wanted a customer-centric solution that specialized in the phone channel. Out of all the new tech on the market, Newk’s turned to kea to serve as the “cashier in the cloud.”

Using natural language processing, kea triages incoming calls, transcribes, upsells, and confirms orders, processes payment, and sends orders to the restaurant POS. While natural language processing has improved significantly in the last 3 years, the general public still isn’t used to talking to AI. Kea addresses this learning curve by ensuring there’s always a human in the loop in case customers need help or prefer to speak to someone directly. Plus, kea answers 100% of calls, offers upselling options, and offers an option to tip on 100% of orders, which makes both customers and employees happier.

“We recently had a large football team get off their bus to eat lunch at one of our busiest locations. That’s a lot of hungry athletes to feed during rush hour,” remarked Mr. Karveller. “One of our general managers said he wouldn’t have been able to get through that shift without kea answering the phones.”

Overall, kea has helped Newk’s employees feel less stressed and be more productive. Now every call gets answered, and recently, call volumes have even gone up. Since kea is so efficient, more and more customers call back to place the same order again. At one of the initial partner locations, we had 3,048 orders placed over the course of 2 weeks. That’s 182 hours worth of phone calls that employees now get back to be present in the restaurant and focus on hospitality.

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