​​White Castle makes a change McDonald's just abandoned


The fast-food industry is taking part in a controversial trend of which customers may not be fans. Many restaurants have found a clever way to cut labor costs, and it involves altering the way customers order their food. White Castle is the latest restaurant chain to revamp its drive-thru operations at several locations where humans will no longer be taking customer orders. The chain is beginning to play with voice artificial intelligence technology at 15 of its restaurants, according to a new report from Business Insider. At those locations, customers at drive-thrus put in their order with an AI bot named Julia that is marketed as being more accurate than humans.Related: McDonald’s considers major menu change to lure back frugal customersWhen White Castle announced the change in August last year, it said that the technology will be implemented at over 100 restaurant locations by the end of 2024. The technology was developed by a company named SoundHound, and it has been shown that it can process orders “in just over 60 seconds.” Also, White Castle says that 90% of order completion rates surpass staff benchmarks. In the report from Insider, White Castle claims that the technology allows its workers to focus on other tasks such as preparing orders and checking out customers when they receive their food. The company also claims that orders have been more accurate than before the technology was installed. AI at restaurants get mixed reviews Many restaurants have recently embarked down the same road White Castle has chosen to explore. KFC and Taco Bell have also been testing AI in their drive-thrus. McDonalds has also used the technology to take drive-thru orders, but it recently axed the effort after it appeared to yield mixed reviews from customers.Shortly after McDonald’s launched AI at 100 of its drive-trus across the U.S., which was part of its partnership with IBM, a few customers took to TikTok to show that the technology botched their orders. @resinsbiren #greenscreen @mcdonalds #nine #sweettea #mcdonalds #robots #friday #caffeine ♬ original sound - Ren Adams ​“While there have been successes to date, we feel there is an opportunity to explore voice ordering solutions more broadly,” said Mason Smoot, chief restaurant officer for McDonald’s USA, in a leaked email to franchisees, which was obtained by Restaurant Business. “After a thoughtful review, McDonald’s has decided to end our current partnership with IBM on AOT and the technology will be shut off in all restaurants currently testing it no later than July 26, 2024.”More Food + Dining:Chipotle isn’t shy about making a controversial move Nestlé rejects proposal that would have forced it to sell healthier foodSubway is breaking up with these popular drink brandsAmid the rise of AI at fast-food chains, which can save companies money, many restaurants have recently revealed that skyrocketing costs have posed a significant challenge. According to a recent survey from the National Restaurant Association, 98% of restaurant operators say that high labor costs are an issue for their establishment, while 97% cite higher food costs as a major hurdle. Related: Veteran fund manager picks favorite stocks for 2024

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