Wireless technology displacing or enhancing customer service?

Today’s Retail Wire discussion focuses on new wireless technology as a way to make restaurant and other service employees more productive. I see clear parallels to successful retailers like The Apple Store. The question is raised: Does the growth of new technology like wireless handheld devices tempt restaurants and other retailers to cut back on their staff? Or is this simply an opportunity to be more productive? My opinion:

The trend toward wireless technology in service-oriented businesses is showing up not only at restaurants but also in more forward-looking retailers like The Apple Store. It can add a lot to the customer experience in terms of perceived efficiency, and can help retailers of all kinds “do more with less” or at least with the same levels of service. But will wireless technology totally displace good customer service, or merely reinforce it? I still believe there is no substitute for a competent and well-trained sales associate (or food server), no matter what kind of reinforcing technology is in place.

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