For our Foodie Friday Fun, today’s topic is the delicate balance between being consistent and being boring. What spurred the thinking on this topic was, in fact, a food-related story that comes to us from The Daily Mail’s website. It seems that in China they have a number of restaurants operated almost entirely by robots. The machines do pretty much everything – cook the food, serve the drinks, take the orders, you name it:
If you pay a visit to this restaurant, in downtown Harbin, China, you will find 18 robots – from a waitress to a cooker to an usher – ready to ensure your dining experience is perfect. The restaurant has 18 types of robots, each gliding out of the kitchen to provide your dish, with specialty robots including a dumpling robot and a noodle robot.
I’ve written before about the need to provide our customers and clients with a consistent, predictable experience yet I find this story repugnant. I’m sure the food is uniformly something – good? Bad? Mediocre? No, I guess the word soul-less comes to mind. And that’s the business point today.
Cooking and serving food to another human being is not just another piece of manufacturing. When I think of robots I think of them building cars, not canapés. Oh sure, there are automated processes throughout the food industry, but they’re for packaged goods and supermarket foods, not restaurants. What does this have to do with your business? Think about how many business transactions involve us talking to a machine (I count email on that list – it’s more machine-like than human, lacking nuance and expression) or machines speaking to one another (digital media buying more often these days, for example).
Our clients want to see the humanity. I’m willing to bet most clients and customers are willing to sacrifice a bit (and ONLY a bit) of perfection for the human touch. The smile they get when they’re greeted by name. The new photo of their kids they get to show off. Business isn’t just an exchange of something of value for compensation – when it’s done well there are a number of intangibles that no robot can offer.
So ask yourself this. Are you acting like a robot or like a human? If it’s the former, maybe you ought to contemplate the differences that make us the latter. You with me?