SoundHound Debuts Restaurant Voice AI Phone Service With Square Payment
SoundHound will integrate its phone-based voice assistant for restaurants with Square’s popular payment service. The new partnership combines the SoundHound for Restaurants voice assistant introduced last year with the Square’s point-of-sale system already widely used in foodservice. The announcement follows only a couple of days after SoundHound signed a significant long-term deal with Hyundai and only a month after the company went public on Nasdaq.
SoundHound for Restaurants acts as a digital waiter when people call a restaurant to place an order for pick-up or delivery. Restaurant owners sync their menu and the appropriate phone number with the voice assistant, who answers every call so there’s no need for a customer to be put on hold. The voice assistant’s natural language interface understands what the customer is ordering, including changes made during the call. Once finished, the AI sends a confirmation to the customer, whose payment is then processed through Square’s POS system. The voice assistant is a subscription service for restaurant owners, with the cost depending on its use, though SoundHound is running a promotion waiving the subscription fee through the end of the year for those that sign up before July.
“At Square, we are seeing sellers leverage the latest technology to meet customer demand regardless of size or complexity,” Square head of restaurants Bryan Solar said. “Our partnership with SoundHound allows us to offer innovative and cost-effective solutions to restaurants working with small profit margins and facing multiple challenges—including the high cost of rapid labor turnover and shortages. This integration provides our sellers with the tools they need to offer a consistently high-level of customer service.”
Restaurant voice assistants are starting to appear at an accelerating rate at chains like Marcos Pizza and Checkers, which has struck deals with both Valyant AI and Presto to embed a drive-thru voice assistant at its franchises and corporate-owned locations, respectively. Meanwhile, McDonald’s sold its McD Tech Labs to IBM and began a collaboration to develop an automated drive-thru service late last year. SoundHound’s previous experiments leveraging its conversational AI for restaurants also centered on drive-thrus. Mastercard and SoundHound ran pilot programs embedding SoundHound’s tech at White Castle and Sonic Drive-In restaurants a few years ago, unsurprisingly using Mastercard for a payment structure. Startups like ConverseNow and Kea have their own phone-based voice assistants for restaurants, but Square’s inclusion will likely boost SoundHound’s appeal to restauranteurs.
“We spoke with many restaurant operators to develop SoundHound for Restaurants and received overwhelming feedback about the need for automated solutions that help restaurants process more orders and meet growing consumer demands more efficiently,” SoundHound vice president of products James Hom said. “Our partnership with Square has given us the opportunity to bring the power of conversational AI technology to businesses that would otherwise not be able to access the convenience and efficiencies of a voice-enabled solution.”