Being Human in the Era of Disruptive Food Service Technology

May 19, 2021


Together, the acceleration of digital transformation and the impacts of COVID-19 threaten to drastically reduce human interaction in foodservice… unless these challenges are managed in a way that always puts people first.

How do companies keep humanity at the heart of their business?

People, purpose, and values first

Being people-first helps attract and retain top talent, build new partnerships, and meet your goals.  Show that you really care about your team members, and your partners see this. They connect with you because you’re real and because you care about the success of your people and your clients.

However, your partners and customers will not be able to see this dedication to your people if your team becomes invisible due to technological advances.

The answer is not to abandon technology. Instead, you need to focus on putting your people, your purpose, and your values at the heart of every technology-related decision you make. This means asking yourselves, “Will this new solution help us put people first? Will it align with our purpose?” If not, then it’s a clear sign that the technology is not right for you.

Guest interaction

Technology can take much of the human experience out of dining. While it’s entirely possible to set up a 100% automated dining experience with no human staff, this will fail to provide the sort of experience we aspire to.

That’s why we’ve put dining ambassadors at the pick-up stations. It means there’s somebody to greet diners, check their order, answer any questions, and see if there’s a possible upsell or impulse buy.

Technology can also assist in making guest interactions more personal and human.

Fresh Ideas has installed cutting-edge POS systems that enable hyper-personalization. When customers enter a food outlet with a mobile app activated, cashiers can see the customer’s name and purchasing history, which will allow them to greet people by name and make suggestions for their meal.

This is disruptive technology that genuinely makes the interaction more human.  If we don’t focus on putting the human element first, the risk is that technology will eventually reduce human interaction to zero.

Assisting those in need

Technology should be adaptable to the customer, and not the other way around. This means that advances in technology should not lock some of our customers out from enjoying a happy, fresh food experience. Foodservice providers must be sensitive to the types of technology they introduce to different demographics.

For example, making people order via a screen without prioritizing accessibility can make it extremely difficult for visually impaired customers. Although senior citizens are becoming more tech-savvy, many still suffer from a lack of stamina, failing eyesight, or hearing trouble. Asking them to order via a screen may be insensitive.

Similarly, people with physical or mental disabilities can have trouble using technology unless the provider has put people first.

Robotics can also play a part in assisting guests in a dining program.  It can help order food, provide better and more efficient customer service and enhance the dining experience.

Making our team visible

The virtualization of the food preparation can enhance the dining experience. This may involve streaming a video of the customer’s food being prepared. During COVID, this technology helped bring human interactivity back into the transaction by showing a real person preparing food in real-time. It also helped get the customers excited about their upcoming meal, and reassure them that the kitchen is clean and staff look professional.

The right technology can empower our teams to engage customers on a new level with human interaction resulting in increased customer satisfaction and higher revenues.

Learn more about how we put people first at Fresh Ideas here.


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