Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Short Rant About "Personal Touch"

With the hasty demise of our Square/iPad register, some observant and well-intentioned folk bemoaned the passing of that system's finer points.  Among other things, one of our IT oriented staffers commented that some of our clients would miss a computer that "recognized" them every time they came in, that "knew" their drinks and their history (and their credit card number)...that the camaraderie created by Square made regular customers feel validated.  He thought Square made people feel like they BELONG here.

I remember getting my first credit card (yes...this was so long ago that credit cards were made of stone) and being pleased when my name appeared at the bottom of each receipt.  Somebody's computer recognized me!  I was SOMEONE! 

That didn't last.  As Uncle Chet wrote, "the thrill is gone".

As a business owner, when I am offered an "easy" way to solve a complicated situation, I always wonder: is it TOO easy?  Does it really SOLVE the problem, or is it like morphine...something that makes the pain go away but leaves the bleeding wound unstanched?  Having a computer make my customers feel "included" sounds great...but I don't believe that it works.  I don't think my customers fall for it.  Moreover, customers that DO fall for it will just as easily be made to feel "included" by everyone else's "smart" register.  It ain't much of a commodity.

Inclusion and community may be a sizable part of what our customers want.  After all, they ARE human beings, right?  But the reason that inclusion is so valuable, though, is that it simply can't come from an iPad.

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