Does technology replace the customer experience?


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From Iconoculture:

UK: “Facebook” pub serves punters with table-side technology
The Thirsty Bear pub in South London is using tablet technology to help punters order food, drink and update their social network status without leaving their table. Table-side iPads and serve-yourself beer taps enable customers to order food and drink for self- or waiter-service. To start an electronic tab, punters simply leave a credit card behind the bar in order to add to their bill. Finger clicking is no longer required to grab waiters’ attention. Connected consumers can simply text staff direct via an instant messenger app to alert them that they require table service.

This is a fascinating idea. But how long can it last?

Novelty drives first-time visits, and this is certainly novel. But will it generate repeat customers? Typical drivers of repeat customers are convenience + price, identity, or an emotional connection.

  • Convenience is certainly enabled by the tap in booth. But what happens if I don’t want one of the two types of beer that are hooked up at my spot? Also, convenience in and of itself is not typically enough, and needs to be paired with another driver.
  • Price is unlikely to be low. Lots of tech to keep up, plus having beer lines to each booth must be a maintenance nightmare!
  • Identity is the strongest possibility. If they can play to those with an identity of connectedness, they have a shot.
  • Emotional connection. Very little chance here, as it sounds like this is a minimalist staff environment.

I don’t see this pub lasting. The novelty is great, and I am sure they will have massive amounts of visitors their first few months. But the high costs required combined with the lack of emotional connection will make it difficult to attract the regulars that pubs typically require.


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