Sunday. For some it is a day of barbecuing and kicking back (with or without a cold one). This week for my family it was a day of rest and...errand running. That’s right, grocery store time with a side trip to Target.
Before we headed to the grocery store (and to Target), we stopped off at Chili’s for a quick bite to eat (and, regrettably, not for “Baby-Back, Baby-Back, Baby-Back Ribs” ).
When we were seated, we noticed something new at our little table. A Ziosk .
What’s a Ziosk , you ask? Produced and distributed by Tabletop Media , the device at first glance reminded me of one of those games that are attached to a bar and have Blackjack as one of their main titles. Now if you like those games, more power to you. But this device provided a small touchscreen display (approx. 3x4 inches) with a card swipe on the right side and presented options for Specials , Drinks , Desserts, Games and even USAToday.
Seeing as how almost everything technological these days has a touchscreen, I investigated further. After a few minutes of checking things out, it turned out that I would have to login to actually order something - a task that is the last thing on my mind to do at a restaurant. Thankfully our waiter, who was very attentive and polite from beginning to end, took our order and our lunch was on.
Before we got our food, we only had so much space on the table - which the Ziosk definitely took up some valuable real estate. But by the time our food arrived, I actually turned the Ziosk around and pushed it to the side so that neither my wife nor I could see the screen - giving us a little more room for our plates and drinks (not to mention, one less distraction).
When everything was said and done, I did finally find one great use for the device: paying for the meal. It not only made paying for the meal easy, it also helped to calculate the tip for me (which I normally do through an app on my iPhone) and it provided me with the option to get my receipt via email (which I gladly did - less paper to stuff into my pocket).
So where am I going with all of this. Efficiency . Is this device, and others like it, really helping to make things more “efficient”?
Based on Hospitality Technology Magazine ’s (online) article entitled Jack in the Box, ERJ Dining and Fleming’s Honored for Innovation (2010), the Ziosk is a device that helped Chili’s to achieve strides in “both customer service and operational efficiency.”
Fair enough. But is that what people really want when they go to places like Chili’s? I mean, the last thing I want to be is rushed all in the name of ‘efficient customer service’. Also, depending on the waiter / waitress, I would rather deal with a person as opposed to tapping on a screen for what I want to order.
On the other hand, there are a lot of places out there that ARE incorporating technology to help to make things more efficient when it comes to paying for the goods and services provided.
Places like Safeway, Giant Foods, Lowes, Home Depot, CVS, Weis Market and now even Apple Stores (through their Apple Store app ) provide means for checking yourself out, I mean, scanning, bagging and paying for your purchase.
Also, other stores; like Starbucks, the Oakley Store, Rosetta Stone, L.L. Bean, the Microsoft Store and Macy’s all provide the ability to have your receipt emailed to you. Personally, I have always liked this because it’s less paper used and I will never misplace the receipt.
So, Ziosk at your table , self-checkout at the (grocery) store - it’s transitioning our society to an ‘efficient’ means of commerce that will eventually take the form of Mobile Phone Wallets (like the one that MasterCard has just launched). Are you, rather, are WE all ready for this? Only time will tell.
Please post your comments below on Ziosk, self-checkout and receipts by email.
Thanks for reading.