KFC is set to roll out new Netflix-style recommendations technology trialled in its drive-thru estate across it UK operations, MCA’s Hostech conference heard this week.

Lisa Bowen-Dawes, the group’s senior digital product owner, said the Call The Colonel project had come out of wider work to improve the drive-thru experience.

It allows customers to call ahead and hear a recording of the menu, with key products and deals picked out. They can then place their order for collection on arrival. She said the technology had helped ease anxiety at the speaker post as customer struggled to read the menu with a queue of cars behind.

It will now become part of the online and app experience for UK customers, being rolled out in the first half of 2019.

Bowen-Dawes said this was an example of the group’s “innovation sprints” – digital projects implemented and tested quickly in small sections of the estate with further progress based on customer reaction.

She told the conference, which is organised by MCA and Restaurant Magazine: “ We needed to shift away from thinking of ourselves as a quick-service bricks and mortar restaurant to the mindset of an e-commerce company – we needed to be more customer-focussed and data driven.”

On the recommendations technology, she said: “We feel the game-changer, is to build a recommendation engine that will ease the ordering experience for our customers in the drive-thru, via Alexa, online, via our app. In the same way customers already experience recommendations on services like Netflix or Amazon.”