How Domino’s Pizza is using AI to enhance the customer experience

Dominoes is positioning itself as a technology first company with an intriguing new AI system to deal with customer services. Will other companies follow?

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Domino’s Pizza has been a company willing to embrace technological change over the past few years. In 2015, it announced that customers could order pizza just by texting a pizza emoji to Domino’s. Last November, it delivered a pizza by drone to a couple in New Zealand, claiming that it will be faster and safer as a drone delivery would not have to worry about traffic.

Now Domino’s is taking another step towards the future as it announced the DRU platform, which ZDNet describes as “an artificial intelligence (AI)-based technology that will allow customers to order a pizza using their voice.” Customers could use their phone, computers, or virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa to order pizza, find opening hours, and browse through a menu.

Domino’s has been developing the DRU platform for years, and most companies obviously do not have the resources to make their own virtual assistants. But what Domino’s understands is that technology is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. Domino’s is not experimenting with drones and AI because it wants to be a cool tech company. It is innovating as part of a continuous strategy to enhance its customers’ experience and make ordering easier than ever.

Businesses can learn a lot from how Domino’s is approaching technology as they constantly tinker and innovate throughout their entire business, not just on the technological side, to help customers out. Here are some things to note.

Making things easier

An important thing to note about Domino’s is how it has managed to reinvent and turn itself around over the decade. Domino’s stock was worth just $3 around November 2008 compared to $188 as of March 1. And while there are many explanation for why Domino’s has turned around, much of it is because customers are less interested in sitting down for a proper meal and more interested in takeout like Domino’s. Papa John’s has also boomed over the last few years due to this phenomenon.

This growing interest in takeout means that customers want to order food and get it quickly and efficiently. Domino’s is using AI and drones for this purpose. As noted above, the hype around artificial intelligence and big data mean that some companies will improve technology without really asking themselves if it is worth the cost.

This is not the case with Domino’s. The idea behind the DRU platform is that customers will no longer have to tap through a bunch of pages. I ordered Domino’s last week using their website, and it is sort of annoying how you have to go through one page for a coupon, another for the size of the pizza, another for the toppings, another to confirm how you intend to pay for the pizza, and so on. By using a voice controlled AI, I can just say what kind of pizza I want, making for a faster and easier process.

Domino’s is far from the only company which sees how AI and voice commands can make things easier for consumers. Health insurance provider Humana is working on creating an AI which can empathize with customer concerns on answering a question and reach something closer towards real conversation. Amazon and Google with their virtual assistants Alexa and Assistant are trying to make sure that they can understand and search customer questions.

We are witnessing a revolution where AI learns not just to think, but to really help others and create a better experience for customers.

Technology is not everything

Plenty of journalists out there are interested in how Domino’s is changing, but one journalist talking about the DRU announcement said that Domino’s is “a technology company that happens to ship pizzas.” While I have no way to know for certain, I would imagine that Domino’s would disagree with this assessment.

This distinction matters because it emphasizes where Domino’s focus is. A good customer experience is important, but no one will use the DRU platform in their homes for anything but ordering pizza. And as noted above, technology is only one factor among many which created Domino’s rise. In addition to taking advantage of takeout’s growing popularity, Domino’s also worked on revamping its brand and improving food quality. As a result, the chain managed to win over new fans who appreciated that Domino’s offered decent food at a reasonable price.

Businesses should follow Domino’s look into how AI and other new technologies can improve the customer experience. But Domino’s renaissance is not just a triumph of technology. It is the result of acknowledging past mistakes, resolving to improve the current product, and offering a good product at a fair price.

Technology and AI are important to providing a better customer experience, especially as consumers become more used to dealing with AI regularly. But it should never take away from the core fundamentals of a business. Domino’s understood these facts, and they are on a road towards innovation and success.

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