When Automation Hurts Service

   Almost always, I am a proponent of business automation, but lately as certain technologies have penetrated small businesses, I find that the improvements are having a negative impact on my level of satisfaction with those businesses.   

In the olden days (before 2005),  a waiter or waitress would come to the table with a notepad and a pencil and write down my order.  Today, most often, they come to my table without a pad and just attempt to remember what it is that I am ordering.   This morning was no exception.  "What can I get you today?" she asks.   "A cheese omelet with potatoes and raisin toast."  I reply.   2 minutes later.... "what kind of toast did you want?"    I'm sure you've had the same experience.   But, does it have to be this way?   It happened just a week before at a lunch table.  The waitress, trying impress us I suppose, took the order for four people, only to forget to put it in, (I went over to her after I saw other customers getting served to remind her)    and when it finally came, it was incorrect.   It seems to me that this problem is going to be with us until these service personnel are equipped with more technology - namely portable terminals to process orders and maybe even print receipts and accept credit cards.    I, however, tired of poor service, am ready for that technology now.