Discover more from Marketing BS with Edward Nevraumont
How AI voice ordering through DoorDash can be applied to all businesses
Which is better, forms, inbound calls or chatbots? Yes.
This week’s edition was a little late. Sorry about that. The premium edition will be out tomorrow. And I will try my best to get onto a Tuesday/Thursday cadence going forward. Wish me luck!
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On Monday Doordash announced new technology that will allow restaurants to take delivery orders over the phone using AI:
DoorDash today announced its development of voice ordering capabilities incorporating AI, building on its existing model leveraging best-in-class agents, to further support restaurant operations. The cost-efficient innovation will enable select operators the potential to increase their sales by answering all calls and pursuing incremental revenue opportunities, while providing an excellent end-to-end customer experience.
Once you peel back the corporate-ease, this is a test (Note: “select operators”) of whether consumers would prefer placing orders via the traditional online interface, or over the phone with an AI-agent. Maybe I should not call online ordering “traditional”. The traditional way to place a take-out or delivery order was to call the restaurant and verbally list all the things you wanted to buy while the employee on the other end of the line took notes on a scrap of paper (and read it back to you at the end of the call). It was inefficient both for the customer and the restaurant, who had to staff someone on the phone, and maintain more phone lines than needed so they did not miss any orders.
Online ordering made the whole process more efficient.
The same is true in hotel and airline bookings. Before companies like Expedia, if you wanted to book a flight, you called your travel agent and explained your needs while he or she verbally listed your options. Being able to do your own searches was far far more efficient. Even so ten years into Expedia’s existence the company employees massive call centers as 25% of people still called to make their bookings (I do not know what the percentage is now, presumably lower).
When ChatGPT launched their first plugins Expedia was one of the first. But using it was generally a step backwards. Why type back and forth in with a chatbot (even a smart chatbot), rather than just interface with the booking engine directly? A chatbot is not an intrinsically better shopping experience than a good filter and search tool.
So why is DoorDash’s product any better?
Because the goal of an ecommerce company (or any company selling things) is to meet the customer where they are and make it as convenient as possible for that person. And different people have different prefernces.
Most people on the internet prefer watching videos to readying text. But I will only watch a video when I have no other choice. I find text far more time efficient than having to sit through a video, and it is far easier to scan text to find what I am looking for (or verify that what I am looking for is not in the text), than to “scan” a video. But I am not normal. Most people prefer video.
So should your website have video or text?
You should have both. Because some potential customers prefer video and some prefer text.
When you are a lead generation company, you should have lead gen forms, but you should also have a phone number customers can call, and a chatbot they can interact with, and an email address they can send to. “But Ed, why have an email address when they can just use the form?”. Because some customer prefer sending an email to using the form, and every time you make it easier your overall conversion rate will go up as you pick up some of those customers on the margin.
I expect most people who order from DoorDash will NOT want to call and talk to an AI chatbot. But some will.
If those people who wanted to talk to the restaurant had to talk to an employee, they may not be worth serving, but with a zero-marginal cost chatbot, why not make it convenient for the people who want to order that way.
Consider your own customer heterogeneity and think about how you are currently forcing customers to buy in a specific way. Even is that way is the most efficient and “the best way”, know that there are groups of customers out there who want to do it “another way”. Try and make it easy for them too.
Keep it simple,