By Danielle Parks, Customer Impact Editor
From the viewpoint of the employee, individual guests can begin to blend together into one generic identity as “The Customer.” This is understandable, as they see so many faces and interact with so many different people even in just one day. It is difficult at times to provide a personalized experience to the guest.
Technology, while changing the restaurant business in new and exciting ways, further encourages this impersonal atmosphere. In some places, you can now place your order and pay for your meal all on a machine at your table. There’s even an option to call your server over to your table, all with the push of a button. Many even offer games to play onscreen.
This separates the employees’ responsibilities from the need for actual human interaction with the customers. This could result in an interesting problem for the restaurants. As someone who sees both sides of mystery shopping, one of the biggest requirements a company has for their employees is to make the customers feel attended to, appreciated, and engaged. How will replacing half of the opportunities an employee has to interact with the customer affect this goal? Will the employees simply have to turn up the friendliness during the few interactions they do have with the guest? What will they be doing during the time they would have otherwise spent taking orders and processing payments? What will now be expected of them?
From the viewpoint of the mystery shopper, this could be problematic as well. I myself don’t like the server to hover while I eat, but not interacting at least briefly with the person handling my food and drinks makes the situation feel more like a factory than a restaurant. I feel even more like just one facet of “The Customer” entity instead of a guest. The personal touch is gone. How would this affect a mystery shopper’s answers in the evaluations? Would they be more inclined to answer “No” to questions about the server’s attentiveness, even though the server did not technically do anything wrong?
Our company strives to keep up with all of the amazing new developments in the technological world; applying what is available to our process for the convenience and efficiency of both our employees in the office and our shoppers. It is just curious to think how these new developments will change the face of the mystery shopping experience.
What do you think about this technology? Do you like minimal interaction with the employees? Do you think it’s a negative thing for companies to lose the personal touch, or is it positive that they are embracing new options? Tell us in the comments!