AI Strategy Is Helping TGI Fridays Create Great Customer Experiences

Artificial intelligence is a powerful weapon in any brands' digital transformation armory - able to gather new insights into customer behavior and help brands craft innovative new experiences as well.

While not quite at the same level of consciousness as seen in your favorite science fiction movies, artificial intelligence is able to perform thousands of complicated calculations and analyze reams of data in a fraction of the time it would take a human analyst. Machine learning algorithms are also able to learn from experience, enabling chatbots and other AI-powered customer interaction tools to improve over time. Eventually, they can field ever more detailed queries and offer more human-like responses.

Casual dining giant TGI Fridays has been putting artificial intelligence to work to create new and exciting experiences for its hungry customers.

TGI Fridays

The fast-casual dining landscape is changing. Brands operating in this space used to trade on the nostalgic draw of their identity, but this is no longer the case.

Millennial and GenZ customers are less impressed with nostalgia and are more drawn to new, quick, and affordable options which can offer them unique experiences.

"Consumers are what disrupt industries - how they think and how they interact, and what they want from a brand," said Chief Experience Officer for TGI Fridays, Sherif Mityas. "Our guests are looking for, 'When I want to have a food and beverage occasion - be there. Don't make me come to you.' [...] For us, it's understanding how we ensure that we're creating that TGI Fridays engagement and that TGI Fridays experience, whenever and wherever our guests are looking for it."

In 2018, this new engagement began with a revamp of the TGI Fridays menu, cashing in on the new trend for vegetarian and vegan options by offering meat-free dishes such as the Beyond Burger alongside traditional items. Thanks to platforms such as Uber Eats, home delivery is also a hot topic right now, and TGI Fridays has been rolling out its own service in this space as well.

However, it's artificial intelligence which has most recently piqued the interest of the brand, and it's been looking for ways to incorporate the technology into its offerings.

Artificial Intelligence

For TGI Fridays, artificial intelligence is all about engaging with and understanding its customers in new and more sophisticated ways. The brand wants to meet customers where they are, using chatbot technology via smartphones, computers, and room assistant devices to engage with them when they are looking for a dining experience.

"We need to be there on all the voice assisted devices, so that when consumers want to talk to us, we're able to respond back," said Mityas. "We use, obviously, a bot technology. We use AI and machine learning technology to be able to engage with our guests when they're thinking about a food and beverage occasion."

Further to this, in its restaurants, TGI Fridays has tablet computers at the tables which can capture customer feedback during the dining experience itself.

The data from this feedback can then be analyzed and actioned using advanced artificial intelligence algorithms and turned around quickly to form policy and process decisions to improve the experience for the company's guests.

"The value of AI is doing things that create a natural engagement, but doing it at scale," continued Mityas. "I could have thousands of people sitting behind computer screens talking to every Mary, and Tom, and Steve, but I can't do that when I service half-a-million guests every day. The AI and the machine learning allow us to take all this data that we have, and create personalized engagement, and allows us to talk to individual guests at a scale that we never would have before."

Final Thoughts

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have the power to enhance the experience of restaurant brands who are forward-thinking enough to take advantage of it.

Whether it takes the form of using AI-powered chatbots and apps to interact with customers directly - answering queries or complaints or presenting agile and flexible marketing opportunities - or gathering and analyzing data at a level appropriate to a brand which serves as many customers as TGI Fridays does, the technology can provide these capabilities and more.

It remains to be seen what AI technology will be capable of in the future, but, as it becomes ever more sophisticated, the possibilities will certainly grow in kind.

You can hear TGI Fridays' Chief Experience Officer, Sherif Mityas, speak at Future Restaurants 2019, taking place this September in Austin, TX.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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