ChallengeConnecting a conversational AI system for taking orders to a traditional phone system.
SolutionVonage Voice API
ResultsNovo Labs completed their AI integration with zero issues, no downtime, and received enterprise-level support from Vonage.
Vonage Helps Deliver Pizza, Burgers and More
So you’ve got a craving for zesty tomato sauce, gooey cheese and crispy crust? Will you submit your order via some online or mobile digital app or do you pick up the phone and call your favorite pizza joint? That’s a question that Jeff Loukas and his business partner, Clinton Coleman, pondered when they created their company, Novo Labs. Despite the growing trend in the food industry to move to online ordering, Loukas and Coleman (who both spent many years in the restaurant business) found that there were still a large number of customers who preferred to call in their orders. According to Loukas, “No matter what digital interfaces we provide to those users, stating an order verbally is still the simplest path forward.”
Get Your Burger and Fries the Novo Labs Way
Although the industry seemed to be moving away from using verbal communications for making orders (either by phone or in a “drive-thru” situation), Loukas wasn’t totally convinced. “Why do we view verbal transactions as something independent from these new digital channels? Our thinking was: ‘Hey, if customers have been ordering verbally forever, and it’s worked just fine, then we should digitize the voice channel rather than push people out of a channel that's been the most productive for them.’" Based on that premise, Loukas and Coleman built what they call a “conversational commerce system.”
“We didn't want to build an IVR or a chatbot system,” said Loukas. “Those have limited capabilities because they still follow a ‘command and control, step one, step two’ model. When I'm ordering food, that’s not the way I like to do it. Most everyone picks up the phone to order verbally or picks up their mobile device to order digitally. What we’ve found is that most of our restaurant clients outside of the ‘Big Three’ pizza players, actually take more phone orders than they do digital orders.”
The resulting Novo Labs conversational commerce system today, through which users can either call in or use a drive-thru to order via voice, works extremely well. “Customers still receive a high level of service and get their food the way that they want it; the only difference is that the interaction is with an AI system, not a human. The Novo Labs system delivers the next level of personalization by engaging customers with the opportunity to reorder a previous order or make personal recommendations for food customization,” said Loukas.
The Ultimate Order: Vonage Voice APIs With Extra Cheese
Finding the perfect ingredients to deliver the system that Loukas and Coleman envisioned was not necessarily quick and easy. Loukas remembers wondering, "Hey, how are we going to take audio through the telephone and actually connect it to our natural language processing system so that our AI can interact with people on the phone in an effective manner?"
Novo Labs’ co-founders conducted months of research to determine the best solution to integrate traditional phone calls into their system and finally concluded that the Vonage Voice API was the answer. “We looked at it from various q NBC angles, we looked at multiple API vendors, but, honestly, the simplest and fastest path for us to get the results that we wanted was by using Vonage. The Vonage Voice API system is extremely fast, intuitive and simple. It allows us the ability to take phone calls and connect them to our NLP AI directly. We really like the level of simplicity and direct connectivity that Vonage provides. It was clearly the right choice.”
Working With Vonage API Team
According to Loukas, now that the Novo Labs integration is complete, the biggest benefit of using the Vonage Voice API is that they don't think about Vonage at all. “We’re now at a point where we've been solid for months and have had zero issues. We don't have downtime. The integration was very straightforward. We don't do a lot of actual code work with the Vonage Voice API, because once our integration was there and solid, we realized, ‘hey this works great.’ We didn’t have to spend months of time and large amounts of the capital that we've raised towards developer resources to set this up.”
In addition, Loukas gives the Vonage Voice API documentation high marks. “It’s fantastic. It’s very easy to understand and a great road map to get where you want to go.” He also gives high praise to the Vonage API team for its willingness to work with Novo Labs on helping them overcome any issues that, at first, cropped up. “All of the Vonage API Platform support people are great, and they continue to provide a great level of transparency to help us work through any problems that come up. Vonage made it really easy for us to get to where we are today.”
“We’re now at a point where we've been solid for months and have had zero issues. We don't have downtime. The integration was very straightforward. We don't do a lot of actual code work with the Vonage Voice API, because once our integration was there and solid, we realized, ‘hey this works great.’ We didn’t have to spend months of time and large amounts of the capital that we've raised towards developer resources to set this up.”
Jeff Loukas, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer, Novo Labs