As Restaurant Technology Evolves, Human Interaction Remains Important

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As Restaurant Technology Evolves, Human Interaction Remains Important

03/05/2018

With additions like tableside ordering, kiosks and delivery apps, technology has become an integral piece to the lifeblood of a restaurant. Technology allows restaurant operators to maximize efficiencies to increase revenue and create the optimal dining experience for the customer. In some cases, like Eatsa in San Francisco, technology has removed humans altogether. This article, contributed by Kallpod, explains that while technology exists to make restaurant operations better and more efficient, it should not completely remove human interaction from the dining experience.

A benefit of technology becoming more prevalent in the restaurant space is that customers have the opportunity to be in control of the experience. They are able to order what they want, when they want and don’t have to wait on a server to come by to order another round or ask for the check. This same technology allows operators to staff their restaurants properly and servers to prioritize their time, resulting in larger sections and increased tips. Tableside ordering allows customers to complete the entire dining experience without really interacting with their server. But, is this the experience the diner wants?

We’ve all been there before – flipping through ten pages of different blends of red wine from various regions of the world. A decision can be made based on price or you can always fall back on your go-to order, but what if you want advice so you can try something different? This is when human interaction comes into play. A tableside ordering device may allow for simplified ordering or pay-at-the-table, but when a diner is looking for input on the perfect wine to complement their filet, human interaction is key.

Aside from the interaction between the diner and server, technology can have a negative impact on the experience between two diners. Customers who take the extra time to enjoy a full-service experience are doing so because they are hoping to enjoy a meal and conversation with the other diners at their table. While quick-service is meant to fast and easy, full-service is more of an experience. In a full-service setting, if technology completely dominates the experience, it can be distracting between two diners.  According to a study by Pew Research Center, 62 percent of diners do not think it’s okay to use a cell phone while dining at a restaurant. People are distracted enough by the use of smartphones, but when an interactive tablet with games, music choices and other distractions is sitting on the table, it adds another layer of separation between the diners. More time is spent flipping through a tablet, choosing songs, playing games and figuring out how to use the device than is spent catching up and enjoying the actual experience.

Technology remains pertinent to a good dining experience as long as it is used in the right amount. While it may not completely eliminate the need for a server, it can be used to get the server’s attention or let them know you are ready for the check. There are ways to include technology in a full-service experience that do not completely take away from the overall experience. And, if the consistent evolution of technology in the restaurant space tells us anything, it’s that it’s not going anywhere. Although technology will always have a presence in the future of full-service restaurants, some things should remain consistent, including the contact between a server and their diner. Customers should be able to control the experience to the extent they want, but still be able to fall back on the server to make sure they are really getting the best restaurant experience possible.