Siri, meet Dom.
The Domino’s pizza delivery chain announced Monday it has developed a new function for its mobile app that makes it possible for customers to place orders by speaking only to a computer-generated speaking voice named “Dom.” The Apple-inspired notion is part of a larger strategy to steal business from other major pizza chains while undercutting local shops with a new way of ordering, according to the Associated Press.
The rollout is still in beta stage, with both iOS and Android versions available that company representatives said are likely to be tweaked until they can deliver a more “human-like, conversational” experience.
“It is not perfect,” Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle explained. “This is the sort of thing, like any other really new technology launch, you’re going to learn, you’re going to get better.”
He told the AP that facilitating mobile and online ordering has become more of a priority for the company as those methods have grown in popularity (mobile and online orders currently make up for 40% of Domino’s U.S. sales). Domino’s expects “Dom” to be a wise investment, with current figures indicating that customers who order digitally are more likely to return and because of the idea that small pizza chains will not have the cash to create their own voice service.
A cursory look at Yelp reviews of Domino’s locations throughout the US is proof the company ought to consider any change at its disposal. Few of the hundreds of restaurants listed earned more than three of the five possible stars, with former customers pledging to never return because of either the service, food, or both.
“If you find yourself eating pizza from Domino’s in the middle of Manhattan you should immediately check yourself into an asylum for the culinary insane. There are at least five pizzerias in the area that blow this garbage away,” wrote one reviewer.
“First time we tried it, half the order was wrong. When we called to inform about the error, we were hung up on. Called again to hear an explanation that they were busy and for us to return the pizza and then hung up on,” explained another.
The new “Dom” feature will attempt to fix those and similar complaints, with help from Nuance, he same company that was behind the Nina virtual assistant platform. “Dom” will walk customers through the ordering process by inquiring about the kind of toppings a customer wants as well as any other items. App users will pay by typing in their credit card information.
Yet the new convenience for customers will ultimately cost Domino’s employees their jobs, spokesman Chris Brandon told USA Today.
“It will definitely be a while until that is substantial and widespread,” he said of any potential layoffs.
Word of the new voice service came just hours after hackers infiltrated data from Domino’s locations in France and Belgium. Customer names, delivery addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and passwords were compromised, with anonymous Twitter accounts demanding a ransom from the company if it wanted to prevent the trove of personal information from being published. The group, which called itself Rex Mundi, also bragged about the hack in a pastebin document.