Restaurants have been creating a buzz in trendy parts of cities all over the world with so-called ‘interactive tables’. Customers can now browse through a menu and place an order through their table top. In effect, they are simply giant table-sized tablets used for Point-of-Sale (POS) interactions in business.
This latest innovation in POS technology also includes notorious self-service check outs that have begun to spring up in nearly all supermarkets (much to the frustration of impatient customers), as well as “web based” POS systems that are now available on smart phones. These systems replace the traditional ’tills’ which use specialised software operated by a trained sales assistant.
It seems like a fun way to shop and simultaneously try out new technology but is it really worth the hype? As one visitor wrote about the dining experience on TripAdvisor, “The interactive tables are gimmicky but once again… the novelty does wear off very quickly.” In some ways, the new tablet POS may draw in customers, but may also act as a cover-up for the more ineffective sides of the business.
It’s time to weigh up this new technological wave taking over the customer experience. Does the tablet hype really win over good old customer service?
It’s pretty hard to argue against the undoubtable fun-appeal that tablet POS’ have. It’s one reason why there are always so many people in the Apple Store. People love to touch and interact with products and paying for their service independently almost becomes a testament to their autonomy and the changing times. On the flip-side, customers don’t get face-to-face communication with the employees that represent your company or brand. Why is this so crucial? A talented and friendly sales assistant can work miracles in encouraging the customer to buy products or even return to your service after having such a pleasant experience.
Tablets may seem convenient but when the novelty wears off, will people really come back? The initial investment, pay and training of service staff may not by ‘easy’ but could bring a bigger ROI in the long-run. Customers that order online also look forward to physically receiving their packages in the post.The1st class envelopes, specialised packaging or notes from the company serveas tangible confirmations of their investment. People look forward to receiving that physical element with ‘web-based’ POS systems, which shows that it still has a valuable place in the consumer experience.
New technology may be great but it’s not when it stops working and there isn’t anyone who can fix it. Many tablet POS’ require a speedy Wi-Fi or internet connection so although you may think that you’re saving on training staff, you will need a good bandwidth, information backup storage and a trained technician in case the systems play up. Smaller tablets can also be exposed to damage with overuse and are expensive to replace, whereas traditional systems are more reliable and built for durability and safety.
Both physical interaction and tablet POS’ have their pros and cons but it’s best to combine the strengths of both. Just because you have trendy new technology, doesn’t mean that you can cut back on customer service. Also take steps to carefully strategise what system is best for your particular kind of business and you could be drawing in new customers before you know it while ensuring that they return when the hype dies out.