Technology Trauma May Cause Guests to Need the ER—Emotional Recovery

By Roberta Nedry President & Founder, Hospitality Excellence, Inc. | January 18, 2015

Please press "1" if you are frustrated, please press "2" if you are annoyed and please press "3" if you just want to SCREAM about technology replacing human resources and decision making!!!

According to Professor Stephen Hawking, one of today's pre-eminent scientists, when asked about the progression and greater impact of technology, he recently told the BBC, "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race." He continued with, "Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete and would be superseded." Yikes, could our hospitality leaders and employees actually be superseded?

Professor Hawking's potential forecast may seem dramatic, questionable or at least a very distant possibility to some. Yet, the issue of today's tremendous innovations and applications of technology in so many arenas, including hospitality is; how are the humans who direct, support or manage that technology doing when all does not go smoothly and how are they using their "biology" to do things the computers and software can NOT do?

How many times are hospitality and business leaders and their teams alienating loyal guests and potential customers due to a disconnect between technology solutions and human interactions? With exciting technologies emerging in all areas of hospitality and business daily, how are hoteliers preparing, managing and training their teams to ensure the personal touch is not lost Are the humans and technology performing as a team or two separate roles? How are they ensuring that reactions, responses and emotions do not also become automated for guests and especially that their employees are not all superseded by machines? And, when technology does cause some form of trauma, how well are employees trained to send guests to the ER and deliver an emotional recovery?

The Answer: Mobilize and train human beings to come to the rescue!

As technology continues to inspire new ways to interact and support guest preferences and needs, so should the humans behind that technology continue to inspire and reinforce ways to interact and support guest preferences and needs to complement and enhance not compete or disengage with that technology.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.