Service companies will always need a human touch

In Johnny Mnemonic, the Keanu Reeves rendition of William Gibson’s awesome sci-fi short story, basic social interactions are performed by cyborgs or machines. And in a Clockwork Orange, machines serve “milk” at bars — no more bartenders.

So does the future of service industries hold just vapid, emotionless interactions?Hells no.

Bruce Temkin wrote on his blog that, despite what a Time Magazine articles says is a top trend, customer service isn’t dead yet. And i agree with Bruce.

In fact, human-to-human interaction is becoming more critical for brands to differentiate and compete on the experiences they provide. The human element is unreproducible by a Web site or phone agent.

Case and point: Starbucks is bringing back in-store coffee griding. They took it away because it added noise pollution to the cafe atmosphere, but the aromatic effect of fresh ground coffee was lost. Schultz probably realized that this made Starbucks feel less real, and decided that engaging customers’ senses is critical to providing a unique experience.

barista with capp

Here’s the scoop [via USAToday]:

“Coffee again will be freshly ground and scooped in most U.S. locations so that the stores smell like coffee shops again.

Starbucks (SBUX) CEO Howard Schultz will announce that big “back-to-the-future” change — along with several others — at Wednesday’s annual meeting in Seattle.

Think of this as a hobbling Starbucks’ annual checkup.

Schultz — acting as both doctor and patient — will try to convince shareholders that he can fix what ails the chain. In an exclusive interview with USA TODAY, he made clear that a key first step is grinding beans for brewed coffee, reversing the switch to sealed bags of preground coffee that barely got time to breathe before use.”