Presto can now make Santa and celebrities ‘appear’ in your drive-thru TechCrunch

The next time you drive through the drive-thru lane of a quick-service restaurant, you might hear a familiar “ho, ho, ho” over the speaker.

Presto Automation, a publicly traded restaurant technology company, has introduced a new automated custom voice feature for its Presto Voice, where restaurants can use almost any voice they want – celebrities, restaurant brand mascots, seasonal characters and even locally famous people – when assisting customers place orders at the drive-thru.

Presto Voice uses artificial intelligence to automate voice recognition and can also be integrated with other Presto restoration tools. The new personalized voice option was prompted by a survey conducted by a company which revealed that 68% of consumers aged 18-44 said they were more likely to go to the drive-thru if it offered a celebrity voice to take command.

“Automation technology doesn’t have to be boring or impersonal,” Presto founder and CEO Rajat Suri said in a written statement. “We are proud to bring this highly innovative automation solution that delivers exciting customer experiences while improving staff productivity.”

The goal is to help restaurants increase sales by offering upsells, reduce wait times, improve order accuracy and delight customers, the company said. It also frees up employees to do other things, like prepare food or attend to the needs of restaurant customers.

Checkers Drive-In Restaurants launched Presto Voice in early 2022. Cristina Perez, general manager of a Checkers location in Florida, gave testimonial earlier this year in which she described having two dedicated drive-thru employees, l one taking the orders and the other taking the cash. Presto Voice allowed Perez to redistribute one of the employees to another station and also increase sales.

“It’s all about upselling,” she said. “A human cashier can also make mistakes, but they don’t get upsells because they are sometimes in a rush or they don’t greet or give the ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. With Presto, it’s always the same. There is no miss or missed upsell.

Presto Voice can also fill in when an employee cannot enter. Over the past year, quick-service restaurants have faced a labor shortage challenge, and companies have brought technological approaches to solving the problem with everything from robotic servers to recruiting tools. from expense management to better employee onboarding and customer experience.

Presto has processed more than 300 million transactions since its inception in 2008, and although the company touts its new feature as “an industry first”, there are others also tackling the drive-thru. with artificial intelligence.

In 2020, Will Clem and Orin Wilson co-founded Bite Ninja to develop technology for remote drive-thru workers that enabled restaurants to reopen during the global pandemic. The company raised $15 million in August.

Meanwhile, ConverseNow raised $10 million in August for its voice technology that places virtual assistants in restaurants to automate order taking so human employees can do other things.

At the time, Vinay Shukla, co-founder and CEO of ConverseNow, told TechCrunch that voice AI technology continues to evolve.

“Applications of AI in different verticals are still new,” he said. “Food ordering becomes even more nuanced and drive-thru is complex. Even the best AI platforms may still need human help. What happens when there are chirping birds, screaming children and engine noises? It is always a new space and a new market created by companies like ours. »

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