Technology in customer service has endless potential. Take fast food chain giant McDonald’s as an example. They revolutionized front-of-house service delivery, with market experts estimating a whopping $2.7 billion in sales.
Although a QSR (quick service restaurant) is different to much of the hospitality industry, a self-service lobby reception for hotels, inns, office buildings, and other establishments where the customer experience begins at the front desk still holds so much promise.
QSRs have successfully demonstrated how the self-service kiosk and mobile technology can increase customer spending and satisfaction. However, guests in hotels and hospitality businesses are used to having a person greet them and attend to their needs. The challenge, therefore, is bridging the gap between technology and people.
In this article, we offer tips on bridging that gap so that your business can maximize your investment in a digital kiosk and reap its maximum benefits.
Suppose you’ve gone ahead and invested in a self-service kiosk in your lobby to empower tech-savvy guests and cut down front-desk service time. Those familiar with how a digital kiosk works take to this system like a fish in water. However, some are intimidated by the machine and would rather talk to a real person behind the desk. So how do you get them to try this modern amenity?
Understanding the root of your customers’ hesitation is the key to maximizing your establishment’s front-desk technology. On that note, here are some tips you can try.
No one wants to be in a helpless situation. Guests who avoid self-service concierges in fancy hotels are probably afraid they will be misunderstood, or their requests won’t be entertained. These worries are valid: technology is inflexible in that a robot can ask a question and offer only two options for answers. But what if a guest’s preference is something in between? They will likely get frustrated with their options – sentiments that often produce low-star Yelp reviews.
In contrast, a human receptionist can read non-verbal context cues, like a guest’s mannerisms and facial expressions, and respond accordingly. An experienced Maître d’ can even tell what a guest needs at a glance and then preemptively accommodate them. Longtime hotel guests know they can trust these people, so it would be a good idea to have someone from behind the desk act as a kiosk greeter.
The kiosk greeter can welcome guests with a simple line: “Our hotel offers self-service check-in for faster processing. Let me assist you.” These magic words can instantly ease people’s doubts about the unfamiliar lobby reception and make them more receptive to using the kiosk.
A kiosk greeter’s primary responsibility is to show guests how easy it is to use a virtual reception kiosk. They welcome the guests, guide them to the booth, and assist them as they use the machine for the first time. A positive first experience with an interactive kiosk can make a huge difference. It will encourage people to keep using it instead of looking for a receptionist whenever they need assistance.
No doubt, there will be people who will still want to talk to someone despite having a pleasant orientation on how to use a kiosk. So here’s one way to get them to interact with the tech: delegate certain front-desk services to the kiosk so guests can be more comfortable and familiar with the technology.
For example, you can delegate a kiosk for the following:
- Printing and claiming vouchers or tickets
- Viewing the building directory
- Registering for an event
- Printing ID tags for an event
- Claiming key cards
- Making reservations at the hotel restaurant or spa
The beauty of this strategy is that you can also optimize the technology to streamline internal SOPs. A customized kiosk is straightforward and intuitive. It should be easy to navigate even for people who aren’t adept with new technology.
A common mistake among hospitality businesses is setting up self-service kiosks that are easily overlooked, such as an unlit corner or too far away from the manned reception. Instead, keeping the kiosk within sight and hearing of the reception staff would be better. People who’re unsure about using the machine might be more confident about using it if they can quickly call out for help.
Additionally, make the kiosk area feel welcoming. For example, lay out a carpet to designate its area instead of installing dividers that keep it out of sight.
Consider working with a graphic designer to create signs or stickers with illustrated instructions on how to use your interactive kiosk. These signs should be short, accurate, and easy to follow. The challenge here is ensuring the signs are updated as often as the program used for the kiosk. If the instructions look different from what guests see on the screen, they’ll get confused and might grow annoyed with the machine.
Clear instructions and guides are a must if you want to make self-check-in and check-out a marketing draw for your business.
Bridging the gap between virtual reception technology and guests means putting intermediaries in place. Those intermediaries could be signages, or they could be your staff. However, there’s only so much assistance you can offer your guests. Ultimately, ease of use can make them receptive to modern amenities like a virtual reception. If the user interface is easy to figure out and the on-screen instructions are easy to follow, people will use them with little to zero supervision.
This is what we do best at Virdee. We produce best-in-class virtual reception software, among others, for the hospitality industry. Our mission is to help hotel and building owners save money, improve efficiencies, and ultimately elevate the guest experience. In addition, we develop customer engagement software that makes life easier not only for hotels and business owners but also for their tenants, guests, and customers.
By harnessing technology to improve front-of-desk services, you can streamline your workflows, increase efficiency, and make more customers happy. Contact Virdee today to get started.