I wandered into a shop the other day. Yes. A real shop. Not an on-line façade that allowed me to scroll browse and create a little accumulation of stuff in a little shopping basket. It was an actual shop. With an actual shopping basket. With an actual shop assistant… and a live one at that…
This was great because I had a question. And it needed an answer. But before I could finish asking it, a phone rang. Not mine, hers. And not only did she answer it but dealt with the phone customer’s queries for a minute or two before returning to mine.
I surprised myself. I was not peeved. Or shocked. Or disappointed. Lately I have begun to feel like this is normal now. Perhaps it is because I forgive the generation of slaves ruled over by mobile devices. The mobile, it seems, controls every second of some lives. It and the messages it delivers seem to have priority above all else. We seem to accept that when it dings, buzzes or plays the chorus of Rocket Man loudly, we jump to its attend. And often without acknowledgement of the live conversation we were, at that point, engaged in.
It is just the way things are. And the person on the other end of the phone expects it as an inalienable right. ‘I am on the phone. I come first.’
But sadly, I am beginning to see how phone commands get prioritised and always get to the head of the queue.
An example follows…
I dined in a ‘nice’ restaurant the other night and while it didn’t matter to me, I found the food service slow. There were plenty of waiting staff, but not many plates moving around. But I soon became aware of the seemingly constant stream of Uber food couriers making their way from the front door to the servery, wearing ‘hi-vis’ and massive back packs that inconvenienced everyone from the diners they pushed past to the wearer themselves as they negotiated a lively restaurant. Their presence did nothing to enhance anyone’s experience.
Is this where the attention of the kitchen staff lay perhaps? And so, as I sat waiting for entrée, I began to wonder who had earned the right to be treated with priority?
Is it those who had taken the effort to make a booking, drive, park, walk and take a seat, ponder a menu and make a selection from a wine list, add to the vibe of the restaurant with chatter and laughter. And finally leave with reasonable bill and tip paid in full?
Or is priority going to the phone call and Uber Eats promise of ‘Get the app. Order with a tap’. In the meantime I was left to order a beer and fill up on bread.
Had I become unter to uber?
I’d like to think that the flesh and blood would win place of first concern. In a marketing sense, we are the ones you have more opportunity to satisfy, possibly upsell and definitely cultivate loyalty with… and I don’t just mean 10 stamps on a little card with an offer of ‘One Free’, I’m talking real advocacy and guarantee of return business. ‘Easy order. No minimum spend’ only creates loyalty for Uber and Uber advocacy. The restaurant just becomes a mildly warm commodity in an over-sized backpack with reflective stripes.
I’m not anti-convenience. I believe if someone has taken time to front personally, recognise them for their efforts.
Treat your real customers with uber respect.