Papa John's serves up AI for more efficient ordering

The quick-service chain rolls out AI-assisted call center software to help humans focus more on making and delivering its pizzas.

Papa John's mobile app
Rafapress / Shutterstock

Chain restaurants of all culinary persuasions have experimented with virtual assistants, which provide another digital channel through which customers may order food. However, few quick-service chains are using artificial intelligence (AI) to help humans take orders more quickly and personalize service.

Here, Papa John’s thinks it’s cracked the code with its AI-assisted call center. The call center initiative, dubbed PapaCall, proved critical during the COVID-19 crisis in enabling consumers leery of human contact to order pizza, beverages, and other food, says Justin Falciola, Papa John's chief insights and technology officer, who oversaw the rollout of the service.

"Like most companies, we were reacting in real-time [to the coronavirus ramifications]," Falciola tells CIO.com. "We had to keep employees safe and do the same for customers, while continuing to provide the best customer experience."

Domino's and Papa Johns have paced the pizza-making pack in experimenting with virtual assistant software, such as Alexa or Google Assistant applications, to help log orders. But the results have been tepid at best, as most consumers are more comfortable ordering food online from their computers and phones, rather than using their voice.

The new call center ops recipe

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