Omotenashi and the service split
It is possible to deliver amazing service without being servile.
Omotenashi is the Japanese word for treating people the way you'd want to be treated, for a posture of customer service that builds long-term trust and loyalty.
Why the split?
In a self-service world, the person who provides the service is us. We get what we want precisely because the system has been built to make us our own provider of service. This is why most people would rather order from a menu, pick our own travel itinerary or brush our own teeth.
When done right, self-service is a great option to offer customers. When done to merely cut costs, or when done with a poor understanding of the user, it's mostly annoying.
The alternative, then, is to provide actual customer delight via service. To bring Omotenashi to the table, to offer human service that's even better than the customer could provide for herself.
One way to think about this is to consider the airlines. In almost everything they do, the airline experience today is inferior to what it was on Pan Am in 1972. Every time the airline gets involved, their efforts to cut costs exceed their commitment to service.
On the other hand, in the ways that the airlines have given passengers control of their choices (seeing available flights, for example, or choosing their own onboard pasttime), satisfaction has had a chance to increase.
If you're going to do it for us, do it beautifully.