Welsh restaurant invests in chatbot service

A restaurant based in Cardiff is using an artificial intelligence system to help answer questions from customers right at their tables.

The Smoke Haus, which specialises in slow-cooked barbeque meats, has deployed a chatbot service in its branch located on Mary Ann Street. It helps customers win and spend loyalty points

Currently, the brand is trialling BBQ Babs. But if things go well, it plans to roll out the software to its premises in Swansea and Birmingham later this year.

Using the bot, customers can ask a range of questions from the menu and ask it to change the music in the restaurant. They’re also rewarded with loyalty points and discounts.

However, the chatbot isn’t just aimed at customers who are currently in the restaurant. It can also be used to book tables, check changes to the menu and find special offers.

BBQ Babs is available through the Facebook messenger app and was developed by Cardiff software development partnership The Social Code, a joint venture between Glad People and Arriba Systems.

Mark Power, managing director of the Smoke Haus, said the chatbot will bring an extra dimension to its offering. “For us as a business, it brings us closer to our customers at all times and that will be fantastic for them and us,” he commented.

“The fantastic thing about BBQ Babs is, because BBQ Babs is powered by artificial intelligence, she is also learning all the time.

“That means that she will get to know the needs and wishes of customers more and more intimately as time goes on giving our customers an even better and more bespoke service as we look to build a truly memorable experience.”

Jon Gibbs, director of Arriba Systems, added: “We are delighted to work with Mark and deliver the best service for his customers.

“Customer behaviour has changed – smartphones dominate how we communicate, with consumers demanding simple to use technology without the need of user browsers or download dedicated apps.

“As consumer needs change, businesses much change too. Take our customer loyalty solution.  No one can expect customers to keep a physical loyalty card.

“We developed BBQ Babs because it resides on Facebook Messenger, so people don’t need to download anything or even register. Just scan a code and you start earning points. Customers’ smartphones are always present.”