Added 26 September, 2013
Taking a page out of the airlines' playbook, American restaurants are replacing customer service personnel with technology. Just as flyers are now herded towards self-check-in counters, Chili's, a large chain, is fitting its restaurant with tabletop tablets meant for digital ordering and self-service payment in more than 800 company-owned eateries. Of course, this is promoted to the public as a way of "improving quality and speed of service," but in reality, it is also a ploy to automate data collection, increase positive online interaction, and reduce payrolls. Company-driven (rather than consumer-driven) initiatives like this are increasingly being introduced in consumer oriented businesses across the industrial spectrum. When implemented correctly, it may be a positive change, but will consumers prefer digital interaction to a real human? The Chili's initiative will hit nationwide by the first half of 2014. Watch this trend.