- Dunkin' Donuts debuted a mobile feature that lets people place orders with their voice through Google Assistant, the search giant's voice-activated assistant on iPhones and Android phones, according to a press release by the company.
- Members of the DD Perks Rewards program can trigger the feature by saying, "Hey Google, talk to Dunkin' Donuts" on their smartphone. They can also link their rewards account with a Google account to handle hands-free ordering and payments. After a customer orders from the digital assistant, Google Maps will determine the distance and estimated time to reach the closest Dunkin' Donuts location, where the order will be sent for pickup. The feature will also store customers' order history to streamline requests in the future.
- The integration is powered by Conversable, an artificial intelligence (AI) platform for voice commands. DD Perks Rewards members this month can earn twice as many points on Wednesdays when they place a mobile order as part of the chain's No Wait Wednesday promotion.
By embracing several mobile technologies over the past year or so, Dunkin' Donuts — an early and avid mobile marketer — shows that it continues to recognize the central role that smartphones have in people's lives, especially the tech-savvy millennial generation. The new integration with Google Assistant takes this a step further by streamlining service and ramping up convenience for on-the-go consumers who could benefit from voice capabilities, such as drivers who want to interact with mobile devices while keeping their hands on the steering wheel.
In January, Dunkin' Donuts opened a concept store in Massachusetts that features a dedicated drive-thru lane for mobile orders, another signal that the company is looking to embrace innovative systems to accommodate consumers' shifting preferences and habits. In February, the chain announced it plans to make mobile ordering a key part of its three-year growth plan, including opening up to 50 "NextGen restaurants" by the end of 2019 to cater to on-the-go customers and speed up service.
By integrating more mobile technology in its daily functions, the company appears to be looking to drive more customers to its stores, mobile app and loyalty program for the added conveniences, which could also transform how many of its stores operate. Dunkin' Donuts estimated that employees spend 30% of their time taking orders, when they could use that time to enhance customers' experiences and provide higher-quality service. Mobile ordering tech could improve order accuracy and the speed of service while freeing up employees to focus on other tasks.
A greater focus on digital and mobile initiatives is growing in the quick-serve restaurant category as consumers demand modernity and convenience in their dining experiences. Other national brands like McDonald's and Subway are among those building out technology like digital kiosks and revamped mobile apps and loyalty programs. However, Dunkin' Donuts' Google Assistant news comes as another QSR chain, McDonald's, reports that some of its employees feel overwhelmed by too much technology and ordering options in stores, causing frustration, slower service and high worker turnover.