Smartphones Are NOT Ruining Restaurants! Inflexibility Is.

Couple taking a selfie with smartphone at a restaurant

I left my smartphone on the table in that restaurant!

Have you ever had that panic moment when you can’t find your smartphone, only to find it actually pressed against your ear?

…sigh…I’ve done it way more than I’d like to admit, but I don’t believe I’m the only one.

And what about those moments when you’re not talking on your phone, but you really don’t remember where you left it?  That one is the worst feeling.

We panic because our smartphones have become a part of how we function.  It’s the one thing you don’t leave home without.  Not to mention…smartphones aren’t exactly cheap.

Recently, a NYC restaurant operator hired a firm to find out why they kept getting negative reviews, and posted the results on Craigslist.

According to the firm’s research, comparing service from 10 years ago against service in 2014, the main culprit for the surge in complaints of slow service stemmed from customers using their smartphones.

While I’ll agree that people could always be a little bit more considerate in their smartphone usage in public spaces like restaurants, the blame doesn’t rest solely on inconsiderate customers.

Some portion of the blame falls on restaurant operators.  I say this because PEOPLE ARE GOING TO USE THEIR SMARTPHONES.  That is a given.  Being inflexible and finger pointing only exacerbates the situation.

Is there an opportunity for compromise here?

Smartphones in restaurants are actually kind of a good thing

Yes!  Restaurants have the opportunity to stop viewing the smartphone-using consumer as inconsiderate, and remember this:

  • Every time that connected consumer shares a photo, or checks in, you’re getting an opportunity to reach their whole network that you would not have had otherwise
  • It’s free advertising for you

As for consumers, we need to take responsibility for our part in slowed service.  And then stop blaming restaurants for slow service at times when we’re part of the cause.

The bottom line is, the time has come to take something that appears negative (smartphone use in restaurants), embrace it (yes, it’s going to happen) and find a way to use it to our advantage (involve the consumer in the service process).

Then everybody wins.

 

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