Planning: Mark Crumpacker, at a Denver Chipotle, wants to maintain the interaction with customers when an order is being filled.
With iRobot-like technology at his disposal, Mark Crumpacker, the chief marketing officer for Chipotle Mexican Grill, just turns the other cheek.
“I hope the experience of coming into Chipotle and ordering on the line is substantially superior to ordering on the phone,” he said in a recent USA TODAY story. “There’s all this communication as you watch what’s being made.”
In a technology-ridden environment, humans are becoming more and more numb to new inventions, new systems that break the boundaries of what we knew before and, ultimately, technology replacing us.
Why aren’t we mad at the idea of super-charged robots or ATM-like machines for ordering that replace cashiers? Probably because we know they trump us in any category, as they are flawless machines that could, and have the potential, to someday, completely replace humans.
Not so fast though. Crumpacker has been holding off on what technology he brings to the forefront in an effort to focus more on human-to-human interaction. Rather than overwhelming customers with endless techie options, the company’s CMO has chosen to stick to a simple smartphone application that allows custom ordering and payment — a college-goers dream.
At least, this college-goers dream.
As a die-hard Chipotle fan, I have literally been driven to the point of burrito dreams filled with fresh, locally grown food that, if reproduced by the Disney Channel, would end with a dramatic dive into their perfectly-crafted sour cream.
Despite having so much technology up for grabs, Crumpacker has, in my opinion, chosen wisely to walk away with his head held high.
Try to imagine a machine making your food in front of you instead of a human. Not only is it creepy, it’s lonely.
Dan Reichert, a sports administration major at Missouri State University said he kind of enjoys the independence — to a point.
As a college student, time is major, but so is food. While Reichert hasn’t used the Chipotle app, he has used the Domino’s Pizza app for several months now.
“Basically it’s for the convenience,” Reichert said. “When I call Domino’s I don’t like the long wait or when I have to get on a recording. With the app, you just put your address in, click on the menu and it has coupons and everything. It just streamlines the process and provides the service faster.”
But with a carry-out or delivery only food service, the pizza company’s services are a bit different from Chipotle where face-to-face human interaction isn’t an option.
The only time Reichert said he sees an employee is during the delivery stage of the process.
“It’s not like you would go in there and lose out on the human interaction of a server,” the December graduate said. “Like it or not, that’s just the way the world is going right now. You have to keep up or be left behind.”
And it’s true. If a restaurant doesn’t have some sort of online or mobile presence, it seems as if they don’t exist — at least with myself or my friends.
As college students, we love the idea of groundbreaking advances in technology, but we also realize there is a point where it can be taken too far.
“I think it depends on the mood,” Reichert said. “If you’re there for a business meeting, I don’t know if I’d want to be interrupted as much. But if I’m there on a date or with friends, I think any conversation is good conversation. I think it depends on the situation.”
Maybe we will soon find ourselves ordering our favorite dish from our favorite restaurant on our smartphones, only to have it delivered by a machine that moves aside a ceiling tile, shoots down a food ladder and places our food in the perfect position.
Maybe it will feeds us, too. We shall see.
But I’m with Crumpacker. I prefer to feed myself.
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