Automation: A threat to customer interaction?
Guest Blog: Tom Muirhead, our Account Director, talks about how automation can be integrated into the workforce.
Do not be afraid… The media have stigmatised the concept of automation within the service industry with a sensationalised vision of the future. The classic misconception generally involves robots taking the place of humans, leading to human redundancies. In reality, automation integrates with the human workforce; controlling the environment and managing mundane, routine tasks and checks – my area of expertise.
We know that the modern consumer has high expectations from a hospitality business. To maintain positive reviews and attract return business, a well organised hospitality brand is expected to provide a streamlined, efficient service while maximising valuable one-to-one customer interaction.
With that in mind, does automation present a threat to crucial customer interaction?
I don’t think so. Take hotels, for instance. A multi-site hotel brand like Hilton, Premier Inn or Radisson relies on a vast workforce to carry out an extensive list of routine tasks every day. Cleaning, quality checks, stock management, staff rotas, maintenance, and that’s just scratching the surface. It’s expensive, difficult to monitor and prone to human error.
Of course, some of these tasks depend on human labour (cleaning, for example). But thousands, indeed hundreds of thousands of everyday, repetitive tasks depend on staff that arguably should be deployed front-of-house, serving guests with a smile.
In essence, I believe that automation and the gentle nudge of an intuitive work management system can take care of mundane, routine tasks and preserve quality, safety and customer satisfaction. This can benefit a hospitality business in several ways:
Boost profitability – Allowing staff more time to concentrate on customers
Automation can complement human activity; managing routine tasks and even removing the need for time consuming training – releasing time for staff to concentrate on customers and other revenue generating activities.
Enhanced efficiency – Removing paper checklists
Paper checklists are laborious, easy to falsify and require physical storage. Cloud-based storage, backup and reporting with a digital work management system completely removes the need for paper checklists and speeds up the process.
Reduce risk – Impeccable due diligence
When routine tasks and checks are assisted by work management technology, resulting data is stored in the cloud and can be drawn upon when a business is required to prove its diligence.
In summary, I don’t believe the service industry should be afraid of automation. On the contrary, automation can integrate effortlessly with a human workforce, allowing staff to concentrate on the customer.