How technology helps KFC train employees and delight customers

The fast food chain is trying out a lot of exciting technologies — but what does the future hold for the brand?
15 October 2018

Can you discover the tech KFC is using when you step inside? Probably not. Source: Shutterstock

The fast food industry is one that has grown almost every year for the past few decades. Currently, the US market for fast food is worth US$200 billion and customers get take out or eat in at least once a week.

Globally, the industry generates revenues of over US$570 billion per annum and is expected to grow at 2.5 percent for the next several years.

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), one of the biggest fast food brands in the world, has a presence in 20,000+ locations in more than 123 countries. Second only to McDonald’s, the company’s popularity hasn’t waned for more than four decades now.

In recent years, the company has used technology to transform its relationship with customers, improve their experience, and make their executives more efficient.

Here are some of the interesting strategies and solutions that the company uses globally in order to transform its business:

# 1 | Mobile location technology to tempt customers to stores

Using location-based targeting campaigns might not seem groundbreaking, but in terms of result, it’s something that definitely got the attention of senior leaders in the business.

The fast food brand used the technology to drive nearby consumers into KFC stores through proximity targeting and conquest ads at competitor locations.

In addition to an uplift in store visitation, the campaign demonstrated to executives that engaging with customers nearby KFC stores drove a click-through rate 40 percent above the industry benchmark.

Marketers found that the most receptive demographic to location-based targeting were busy parents with families, which helped them tailor the campaign for this segment.

# 2 | Facial recognition to predict orders and accept payment

At KFC, cameras keep an eye on customers and staff — and given the number of burgers it sells every minute, there’s a lot of data it has about customers.

Leveraging that data, the company has created a solution that forecasts customer orders by estimating the mood of the customer, along with their gender and age, (and even factors in past orders for returning customers).

If customers aren’t happy with their recommended order, they can navigate through a list of alternatives.

The company has also introduced a pay with facial recognition feature, allowing customers to pay for their meal by flashing a smile.

Combined with a 3D camera and liveness detection algorithm, the smile to pay feature can effectively block spoofing attempts using other people’s photos or video recordings and ensure account safety.

Both systems are aimed at luring in millennials and the younger generation to KFC outlets.

# 3 | Training executives using new and emerging technologies

Most recently, the company has shifted its focus to training its employees in a bid to provide the best customer experience possible.

“The customer experience can never exceed the employee experience. We want to make every day easy and rewarding for team members,” said KFC Chief Digital Officer Ryan Ostrom told Restaurant Business.

The company is using Amazon Echo to help train employees, allowing them to ask questions and watch videos while they’re performing tasks.

Since KFC uses several commercial-grade kitchen fixtures, each now comes with a QR code that employees can scan to watch a video on how to operate it.

The company has also connected several of its employees on Yammer in order to facilitate the exchange of thoughts and ideas, and bring in a bit of fun in the form of quizzes and contests.

The future of the KFC brand

KFC has a budget (and an eye) for technology and is keen on making the most of what technology has to offer.

While it understands that customers want a great experience, it knows that it’s not always the human touch that brings the most value.

People go to KFC because they want the yummiest fried chicken, fast. With or without human help, the brand aims to deliver what its customer expect.

“Within the next decade, you might never need to talk to a fast-food employee when you order a cheeseburger combo meal,” said Yum! Brands (the parent company of KFC) CEO Greg Creed.

The future of the KFC brand, therefore, might be yummy and delicious — and almost entirely driven by technology.