An AI order taker has bombed with customers of Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza & Wings, so “Becky” got the boot.
Anthony’s, which is owned by BurgerFi International, announced this week that it’s doing away with its automated phone answering system, nicknamed Becky. From now on, when customers call any one of Anthony’s 59 locations, a real human being will pick up the phone.
BurgerFi CEO Carl Bachmann said the chain’s customers booed Becky out of business. “Our guests have told us loud and clear that they want to speak with a human when placing orders,” he said in a press release. “Technology is critical for innovation, but AI for guest service was not providing an exceptional experience for our guests. Becky—our AI—has been removed. It’s time for her to go, so we’re saying ciao, baby! We want our guests to know we welcome them back—and their calls!”
Anthony’s announced that it was rolling out an AI phone system in December 2022. The pizza company started using the ConverseNow voice AI technology platform for all of its restaurants. ConverseNow can reportedly carry on a conversation with the caller, upsell items, predict ordering behaviors and even detect nuances in the caller’s voice.
But BurgerFi had a different CEO in late 2022—Ian Baines. At that time, Baines said, “There’s no question that automation is the future, which is why Anthony’s was an early adaptor of this technology.”
Anthony’s tested several AI products for a couple of years before deploying the ConverseNow system. “Initially, the technology appeared somewhat inconsistent,” Baines said in December 2022. “However, the longer it runs, the more responsive it becomes as the algorithms learn to react to the customer order and then upsell. With ConverseNow’s technology, Anthony’s is taking the system to the next level for faster service and an improved customer experience.”
But, after Baines retired from BurgerFi in May of this year, Bachmann, the current CEO, soon reached a different conclusion: Anthony’s customers would still rather chat with a live person, not a really smart computer program.
“Everyone at Anthony’s must be serving a guest or someone who is,” Bachmann said. “It must be a win for the guests, a win for the team members and a win for our stakeholders.”