Self-Service Revolution: Response

Self-service is very tricky to get right.  My rule of thumb is that self-service excellence needs to be designed such that customers prefer the self-service to a readily available full service alternative. A great example is airline check-in kiosks. When these kiosks first appeared, passengers felt compelled to use them only because carriers had allowed the lines in front of staffed counters to become ridiculous.  Now many frequent fliers prefer the kiosks. They’re fast, easy-to-use and they provide more control over the service experience, primarily through the seat-selection chart.  This self-service solution is now preferred to a readily available full-service alternative. As a counter example, consider the self-checkout options at many supermarkets – customers have revealed little interest in managing the complexity and effort of scanning and bagging their own groceries.

Fire and Ice clearly failed this “better than the full-service alternative” test for you.  There could be two explanations. Either its service design is inferior or its service is not designed for you. Given the thriving business you referenced — and indeed I see its success each time I walk past it – my inclination is to say that you’re not part of its target market. That it resists making changes for customers like you who fall outside this market is to be applauded, in my mind. Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons?

2 Responses to Self-Service Revolution: Response

  1. Brandon Cole says:

    Without being familiar with the establishment you’re specifically referring to personally, another potential factor that needs to be considered with the apparent success of “Fire and Ice” is whether it’s considered a ‘cool’ part of town to socialize. I’ve always been amazed by the seemingly large crowds mediocre restaurants attract solely based on their proximity to a niche part of town.
    In stark contrast to Anne’s observation, I used to travel to Novi, Michigan for business. Right down the street from my hotel, in a very nice area of town was a restaurant called Mongolian Barbeque ( It appears to be a similar concept from what I can tell, based on each establishment’s respective websites. However Mongolian Barbeque wasn’t crowded at all. Perhaps it was the time we chose to visit the establishment, perhaps everyone left after being lured in for the $2.00 beers for happy hour, perhaps the Midwest just wasn’t ready for it.

    In conclusion, the one point I would agree with is that I don’t like working for my meal if I’m at a restaurant. For me and my family, dining out is a time of relaxation, a time when we want to feel like a kings and queen and be served. It’s almost an escape from the harsh reality that we ourselves work hard serve others all day, and dining is our shining moment to bask in.

  2. Anne Morriss says:

    Join me at the Bristol Lounge?

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