DoorDash is developing an AI-powered system to help restaurants take orders over the phone without any dedicated merchant manpower. The delivery giant said this optional new tool is a response to 1 in 5 delivery customers preferring to order takeout over the phone, and internal research showing that half of those customer calls go unanswered. 

DoorDash said AI call answering will allow restaurant employees to focus on in-store hospitality.

While DoorDash’s AI and agent-powered voice ordering isn’t available yet, the company says it will be a cost-efficient innovation that has the potential to increase restaurant sales, while providing a superior customer experience. 

“Customers expect more from restaurateurs, and in return, restaurateurs expect even more technology-forward solutions from us – including support for phone channels to meet customers where they’re ordering,” said Rajat Shroff, head of product and design at DoorDash. “Supporting operators by capturing customer demand through investments in our voice product is one way we’re delivering more and enabling our partners to grow their business.”

DoorDash laid out a number of benefits from the service, whose price has yet to be released. They include the potential for incremental orders due to customer calls going unanswered, using AI with “best-in-class live agents” to answer customer questions with little to no wait, and providing customers with upsell recommendations to complement their meals, which could increase overall ticket sizes. 

In addition, the delivery provider said using AI to answer calls will ease the restaurant labor crisis, so that restaurant employees can focus on pricing in-store hospitality rather than answering phone calls. 

“Customers will have a personalized voice ordering experience in multiple languages with no missed calls or long wait times,” DoorDash said in a press release. “”Returning customers will be able to quickly reorder their favorite meal [and] live agents will be available to jump in to support customers at any time.” 

Pointing to its network of middleware and POS integrations, DoorDash promises a simple merchant onboarding process for the new feature.