Ask anybody about their thoughts regarding customer service today, whether it’s in a store, in a restaurant or on the phone…most of us would agree it’s lacking in most areas. There are kiosks in stores and malls, and self-checkouts in big box retailers. Restaurants have their own I pads or kiosks on table tops so there’s no need to wait for a server to place your order, or check out; and Café X in San Francisco is using a robot barista to place and process orders, then serving it through a window to the customer. There’s just one problem…no human contact.

Human contact enables us to develop social interaction skills and more. Studies by a variety of researchers across the country will agree that it is crucial for mental as well as physical well-being, making contact a necessary part of a healthier lifestyle. The ongoing development of electronics and robotics plays a part in our society; some good and some bad. It’s the bad that is troublesome to those of us who miss the interaction between people. Watching families or friends in restaurants and coffee shops with heads buried in their devices is the ‘norm’ today; but we don’t all have to like it.

In Nagasaki, Japan, patrons at a restaurant are greeted by an unusual sight; there is a line of humanoid robots which are preparing food orders, and they even have a head chef; also robotic. The company H.I.S. is responsible for running this particular restaurant and a nearby hotel, which uses these robots for luggage handling and checking in guests. According to sources, the company’s CEO feels it’s a necessary move, as employees are hard to find and they are able to work their robots 24 hours a day if need be (without the sweat or breaks); eventually being more cost effective for the company. Predictions are well on their way in Japan, believing that 70% of their hotels will be all automated. As for the U.S., the company Chowbotics in Redwood city, California manufactures the robot Sally, which is currently used at Palo Alto café, preparing salads for touch screen placed orders, eventually leading the larger international chains to follow suit. Some company’s claim they want to enhance the customers restaurant experience, so by using robots for certain types of jobs (such as flipping burgers and processing a variety of foods) it will relieve the person from multiple kitchen duties, and in turn will be creating more positive attitudes of the employees; their belief is… that the employee will be more doting to the customer, asking them if they’re enjoying their food and handing out condiments or napkins. I don’t believe that this will make a happier or more pleasant person whatsoever.

The bigger companies believe that robots are more efficient, cost effective and are able to work extended hours with no breaks, it’s that simple. Drones will be delivering packages and robots will become the ‘norm’ in several service industries. Society has become a demanding as you know, in several ways. The boost in ATMs meant a drive in the banking industry, so they implemented more online services, which enabled people to pay bills and do their banking at any time; without the help of a human. This is the future…and it has arrived.

I remember growing up and watching the ‘Jetsons.’ It was a sci-fi cartoon with depictions of the future American family, with glide along sidewalks and car-like flying saucers, not to mention their live-in robotic maid Rosie. They had high tech companies and gadgets, along with weather referred to as Asteroid storms. Everything was made with a push of a button, whether it was in their home or standing at a machine at work (at Spacely’s Space Sprockets). As a child (sitting on the floor) watching this on a large 4 legged console television set and rabbit ear antennas sitting on top…I could have never imagined that in my lifetime I’d see anything remotely close to the ‘Jetsons.’ Well…I think we’re getting close, but the one thing I’m missing already…is real human contact, and I know I am not alone.

Make your week count.