Revolutionizing the Asian dining scene with Twilio IVR
Time to read: 4 minutes
CHOPE \chōp\verb (Singapore slang): to reserve, such as a seat in a restaurant, by placing a tissue pack or paper on it.
Chope is the rapidly growing Singapore-based tech company serving up reliable restaurant reservations in five key Southeast Asian markets. With a streamlined reservations platform that integrates Twilio IVR to book and confirm tables, gone are the days of long restaurant wait lines, missed connections and frustrated diners and restaurant owners.
Cutting the Restaurant Queues
It was 2012 when Chope’s founders realized that despite being the foodie capital of Southeast Asia, the Singapore dining experience was a convoluted system ripe for technological modernization. Long wait queues were standard fare at most restaurants, and to book a table in advance, diners spent hours on the phone just trying to find a restaurant that would answer the phone or confirm a table.
Food purveyors and restaurant owners were equally frustrated. They had no easy way to confirm reservations before diners arrived at the restaurant. To manage the long wait lines, the more customer-oriented restaurants would write down names and phone numbers, tell diners to take a walk and then call individual diners back one by one. If diners took a walk and didn’t come back, the restaurant would have to rebook, or lose valuable business.
Chope’s founders knew there had to be a better way. They looked to the successes of U.S. companies like Yelp and Open Table, and knew they too could leverage technologies to create a system to connect restaurants and diners in a seamless, friction-free way.
How Chope uses Twilio IVR
Chope’s vision of a stress-free, automated reservations system came to life with the integration of Twilio interactive voice response and Ticktok’s queueing technology to quickly confirm reservations by phone.
For diners, Chope’s B2C consumer-facing website and mobile app provide a clean and intuitive interface. For restaurateurs, the B2B reservations management platform enables the delivery of premium customer service while minimizing income loss due to mismanaged bookings.
When a diner books a table online, the reservation is sent to Chope’s B2B restaurant reservations management platform, which in turn triggers Twilio’s automated, outbound confirmation calls to the diner. When diners receive the call, they’re presented with an IVR to confirm, cancel or speak to the restaurant.
Once a reservation is confirmed, that information is automatically fed back into the restaurant’s reservation management system. The entire process, capped off by the Twilio’s automated outbound calling system, takes less than a minute to complete, and takes the burden off the restaurant to manage outgoing calls, and enables the diners to quickly confirm or change their reservation.
Chope evaluated and tested other interactive voice response vendors but found vendor system lags made the response rate unacceptable. “For a simple 30-second phone call to make a dinner reservation, adding two or three seconds between each step dramatically diminishes the diner experience, and the restaurant could also lose business,” said Chong, head of product at Chope. “IVR pauses and delays are a big problem because neither the restaurant nor their customer knows whether their response has been recorded. Twilio’s service eliminated the lag, which was better for both the customers and the restaurants.”
Outbound calling reliability is also a must-have for Chope and their restaurant clients. “In the restaurant business, if a phone call drops or doesn’t go through, it will appear as though the customer isn’t answering. It results in the restaurant assuming a cancellation and either re-books or loses that diner. With Twilio, we’re able to provide our high volume restaurant clients absolute confidence that the system won’t break,” said Chong.
“With Twilio, we’re able to provide our high volume restaurant clients absolute confidence that the system won’t break.”
Another important feature that Chope relies on is caller ID verification, which wasn’t available from the other vendors Chope evaluated . “Twilio made this possible for our clients’ outbound calls. We want to show the restaurant’s phone number so that even if diner misses confirmation call, they know who to call back and can reach restaurant directly,” said Chong.
Implementation and Scale
Chope switched to Twilio very early on after evaluating other options and finding no comparable options to Twilio’s reliability and customer support. “Twilio’s support is really good.” said Chong. “When we reach out to support for any reason, we hear back almost immediately.”
With Twilio, Chope knew they could also scale with speed. Chope is growing quickly, and Twilio is there to support that growth. “We recently expanded into two new cities in just one month. With Twilio, to get the IVR up and running all we need to do is create a sub account, add authentication for each city, and that’s it–we’re launched in the new city in a week.”
For a fast-growing company moving into new markets, overcoming language barriers presents additional challenges. Chope now serves nine cities in four countries, including Thailand, Indonesia, China and of course Singapore, with more expansion ahead. “Twilio supports lots of languages which is great,” said Chong. “Twilio’s language coverage gives us a lot of flexibility to communicate with diners across multiple languages and borders.”
Reservations with Benefits
According to Chong, since integrating Twilio’s IVR into their platform, no-show rates were cut in half and confirmed cancellations lets the restaurant quickly rebook. For many restaurants, Chope’s B2B app is replacing the handwritten diary many restaurants used for generations. “Today, a simple press of a button can send outbound call and get an immediate response rate. Our clients and their customers get important information right away with no lag time, and no lost reservations.”
One of Singapore’s best known restaurants, Jumbo, joined Chope to improve efficiency and customer service. As one of the largest restaurant chains in Singapore, the Jumbo restaurant group serves 6000 diners daily in Singapore, Japan, and China. When customers book through the system, their staff no longer spends hours calling customers to confirm reservations. “You save time and can offer more personal service, handle inquiries and be more productive,” says Ang Kiam Meng, Chief Executive of Jumbo Group of Restaurants. “Being on the front line, they come into contact with customers on a daily basis that will influence or affect the customers’ service experiences,” he adds. “It is not just the branding, nor the food that sells Jumbo, but rather, it is the employees that make any organisation a successful one.”
What’s Next for Chope
The team is actively exploring using other ways that Twilio can help take reservations more efficiently, specifically by creating a more seamless interaction between the B2C and B2B apps. For instance, diners would be able to book a reservation directly in the B2C app (similar to Open Table), and their preferences would go straight into the restaurant’s B2B app. This would instantly link a customer’s reservation with their dining preferences already stored in their system from previous reservation requests. As Chong notes, “We want the call to come into device so that the diner’s preferences are known right away—where they want to sit, what kind of steak they like – so that restaurants can provide highly personalized and top quality service.”