Partnership Profile: Guestfriend Delights Diners Using Virtual Host Technology
Guestfriend is a company that specializes in providing virtual hosts online for restaurants. They build personalized automated messaging tools for local businesses that let businesses effortlessly engage with their customers in real time across the web, Google, Facebook, and more. Today, we discuss Guestfriend and their innovative contribution to the restaurant industry.
The purpose of the product is to help businesses capture leads across all of their online channels and to make it incredibly simple for customers to get real-time answers to any questions they have about a business. Guestfriend was created to automate customer service for restaurant owners so their staff can focus on running the restaurant.
Guestfriend was created by restaurateurs for restaurateurs. 90% of people say they would prefer to communicate with businesses via text and messaging apps. Guestfriend founder and CEO Bo Peabody, who operates his own restaurants, Mezze and Allium, recognized the need to address this preference in technology in his niche of restaurants. The realization was sparked internally when Bo was trying to figure out how to correspond with customers online and via text without using too much man-power.
When talking to fellow restaurant owners, Bo realized that there was an opportunity to drive business through texting and messaging customers, but these restaurant owners didn’t quite know how to achieve success with it. So, in an organic series of events, Guestfriend was created.
The company received $5 million in seed funding from Primary Venture Partners, Techstars Ventures, and Betaworks. They launched in early 2018 and since have been educating local business owners on how their product can help drive new business and an improved customer experience.
How it Works
The differentiating factor separating Guestfriend from other chatbots available is the amount of time the setup takes. Bo knows firsthand that restaurant owners are busy and don’t have much time to implement new technologies. Plus, with restaurant profit margins being some of the tightest out there, owners don’t want to spend a ton of money hiring third-party developers or agencies. Guestfriend takes minutes to implement and can be further customized later if a restaurant owner chooses to do so.
Once Guestfriend is implemented, it is already fully-customized to the restaurant’s specifications in categories that range from hours and dress code to ambiance and menu. The chatbot is a pop-up feature that appears in the corner of a website. It can also be easily added to your business’ Google search results and your Facebook and Twitter pages. Guests can even interact with it via a custom SMS text message number.
If someone interacts with the bot on your website, on your social channels, or through the SMS number, the bot will respond in real-time and provide answers to hundreds of questions based on the inquiries. It will also direct customers to the correct web pages they’re looking to access. For example, if someone asks about your dinner menu, the bot will suggest a few menu favorites and also provide a link to the full menu.
Of course, since the bot operates through Artificial Intelligence, it can’t always answer questions intended to “break the bot.” If the AI is stumped, it will direct the customer to contact the business directly or submit a simple form so the business can follow up offline. Business owners can even jump into the conversation in real time via Guestfriend’s simple dashboard to answer more complex questions or close a valuable business lead on the spot. Regardless of how complex the question is, customers will always receive either a direct answer or be routed to someone at the business who can help them.
Customer service is taken to the next level with the Guestfriend chatbot. 64% of people have a positive perception of companies who offer communication through text and messaging. Guestfriend is making it easier to have those interactions customers are looking for without an employee being glued to a keyboard 24/7.
Guestfriend is ramping up their efforts on both the product development and marketing fronts. They are excited for the future of AI and customer service. Right now, their focus is on the restaurant vertical, but they will soon be launching products in other small business verticals like home services, health and wellness, hotels, and professional services.
The team at Guestfriend looks forward to providing restaurateurs and other small business owners the ability to take their customer service up a notch without exhausting the resources of their staff. We look forward to seeing how the product helps business owners, and evolves, in the near future.
For more information on the product, visit www.getguestfriend.com.