July 19, 2016

Literally the other day I was having a conversation with my friend about robots replacing humans for customer service roles.

“No, that won’t happen” she said. But my argument was that companies want to save money and sadly, the younger generation want to interact with human strangers as little as possible.

Yet when I awoke this morning, my Facebook and Twitter was occupied with an upcoming trend’s sponsored posts. For those who’ve never heard of it, meet Monsieur. A professional cocktail-making machine which eliminates the need for a bartender. Or even a bar.

But whilst this mechanism ticks all the right boxes for companies and customers, let’s touch on why robots can’t replace humans.

What Is The Monsieur?

Robots Can’t Replace Bartenders

[Source: http://monsieur.co/product/]

Designed to make the customer experience easier and a lot less interactive, the Monsieur will cut staffing costs and enable customers to become their own bartender.

With its integrated app where you can browse through cocktail menus and even place an order, it will also cut the need for things like menus and even a bar itself.

Predicted to be located in bars, sports centres and everywhere else, drinkers will form an orderly queue like at a vending machine. Seconds later they have a cocktail in hand. Sounds good… right?

You Will Always Need Staff

Robots Can’t Replace Bartenders

Let’s not be biased or naive here. We all saw something like this coming. The clues were in checkout assistants being substituted for self-serving checkouts and cash machines now being our go-to instead of bank cashiers.

Machines are taking over the human race.

Buy an expensive iPhone to tweet all day long and Twitter goes down. Your charger suddenly stops working. Hell, your Wi-Fi fancies a day off. No matter how amazing technology is, we will always encounter problems with our devices somewhere along the line.

There are actually devices which can repair faulty devices (mind-blowing!). But usually when there’s an error, guess what comes along to fix it…. a human!

Specifically to the Monsieur, its functionality is intimidating to bartenders who have worked tirelessly to build their career to then be traded for a sleeker, cheaper version. But I do not predict that this will be the extinction of bartenders.

Holding only eight ingredients at a time, one can only imagine how many times staff will have to refill the machine. A thirsty customer is next in line and eagerly hits the Cosmopolitan cocktail tab, to then be rejected as it’s low on vodka.

They tap again, confused by its lack of response. And again. Nothing. People behind are frustratingly waiting for assistance. A refreshment.

Though the machine generously warns you when it’s running low on optimum ingredients, who will replace them? Will another robot come running along to take a bottle off the shelf and carefully pour it in? No. Will a machine clean the Monsieur? No.

What happens when it mistakenly gets overwhelmed and serves the wrong drink? How about when someone spills their drink on the machine itself?

Not to mention, who’s going to wipe those greasy fingerprints off of it every five seconds?

We’re not all a worrywart. But these are legitimate things to consider, because the machine itself can do nothing other than disperse a drink.

So what does this mean for bartenders?

Ordinarily, you spend most of your time behind the bar carefully crafting cocktails. The foreseeing future predicts that bartenders will spend more time slaving to machines instead.

They’ll be responsible for maintaining the machines, cleaning them and even developing skills to understand how they work and being on hand if there is an error. Keeping everything in order at all times.

They will even get more involved with the running of the bar and stock checking – even choosing new liqueur.

At least this is my prophecy anyway.

What About The Human Touch?

Robots Can’t Replace Bartenders

It takes 20 seconds to select a drink and have it in your hand. That’s from start to finish. Ordinarily, the cocktail making process is a lengthy one, lasting at least two minutes.

As a society we are becoming impatient. But we still care about the personal touch that goes into our possessions. We still love handwritten notes and someone personalising our gifts. And when we’re handed over something that was specifically made for us, we feel special.

The Monsieur cannot mistake you for another person. If you want a Mojito, you cannot customise to your favourite rum. There is only one choice for all. You cannot request less sugar and more mint.

You get what you’re given. Like it or lump it.

There are certain bars I visit where a Gin and Tonic tastes different from another bar and that’s wonderful. Each bar has its own ingredients and charisma, but the Monsieur will give you what you ask for and nothing more… and something not even that.

Plus, you’re taken back to a high school party with a plastic cup. Meh. That just takes away everything a cocktail stands for: its majestic glass symbolising sophistication. Half the flavour is in its appearance.

Not to mention people like to spend a few hours relaxing and supping on cocktails. Three drinks with the Monsieur and you’d just be there for an hour.

So this is what our future is looking like fellow bartenders. Fight the digital age and stand for everything you believe in. Mixology. Excellent customer service.

A machine cannot ask how your day is, share a smile or offer general chit-chat. Adjust, but don’t give in.

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