The next time I go to a fast food restaurant, I would prefer that a robot serve my order.
We have heard a lot about how robots are the way of the future. We have also heard about the way that robots will take away jobs from people who need it. One thing that robots will do for us is to create a much better customer experience.
We are already accustomed to immediate feedback in most other parts of our life. If you update Facebook, you will soon receive comments or likes. And if you don’t get enough feedback, you will start to wonder what is wrong. When you buy something from Amazon, the receipt is in your inbox by the time that you have started watching your next episode on Netflix. When you signed up for a Netflix account, it would be unthinkable that a human has to handle any part of your order. You signed up, gave your credit card information, and logged in to binge-watch Stranger Things.
Fast food restaurants are already working towards this frictionless purchasing. You can order through an app, and the drink will be ready for you when you arrive (hopefully.) You can even get Skip The Dishes to bring your order to you.
The next step in the evolution of interaction is to have robots server the food. Right now some humans are slaving over the food and trying to be as precise in their repetitive tasks as possible. Essentially these humans are trying to be as close to robots as possible.
In a couple of years, someone will figure out a very simple competitive advantage. Let robots make your food much more accurately, and for a fraction of the cost. It shouldn’t just be a cost play. The edge will come when a company figures out that if they use the savings from fully automating they can hire employees who can spend their time taking care of the customers. People will flock to this fast food place.
There is no value to me if a human pours my coffee. But there is a massive kick to my day if someone smiles at me when they hand it to me. And even if they weren’t handing the coffee to me, If there were someone who made a personal connection with me as I walked in or out I would go back there every day. Not a ‘paid for’ personal connection like a Wal-Mart greeter, but a genuinely empathetic greeting like a concierge at a 5-star hotel. A connection that takes care of me as a human. Robots should replace repetitive work so that people can spend time helping me as a human. That would be excellent customer service.
I would prefer a robot to a human server when I walk into a fast food restaurant. I want us to leave the robot work for the machines that are best at repetitive work. The people who the restaurants employ should spend their time caring about me, which is what humans do best.*
- (Care that it, not just care about me.)