In the hospitality industry, the frequent adoption of new approaches in customer service has been driven by changes in consumer behaviour as well as the availability of new technologies.
A great visitor experience has many similarities to making a positive customer impact in the hospitality industry. Successful facilities management seeks to deliver a comparable experience in the corporate world.
Today, consumers have become exposed to a wide range of service experiences through travel, online booking, together with hotel and restaurant visits, which have created high levels of expectation as well as influencing their sense of what good levels of service actually mean.
A key factor in the delivery of a great service experience is the use of technology, which ranges from smartphones, tablets and other web based technologies, supporting services such as customer loyalty programmes. These technologies enable the digital experience to be realised across the spectrum of service delivery.
Both hotels and restaurants have raised their game quite significantly, especially when it comes to the front of house and the guest experience. These expectations are now being carried through to the corporate environment where the visitor reception facilities team needs to adopt the same standards and have access to the same technology.
So what are the best practice front of house ideas that the corporate world can embrace from the hospitality market?
In the consumer world, the best customer experience is one that satisfies to the point where the brand becomes a preference and a long-term commitment is obtained from the customer, who then recommends the brand to friends and family.
Across the spectrum of hospitality and the corporate world, being able to provide staff and visitors with a friendly but professional welcome is now ‘the norm.’ This is delivered through appropriate front of house recruitment and training, and increasingly the use of technology.
In a corporate environment, FM teams with access to specialist meeting room booking software can equally greet guests with knowledge of who they are, to whom they are expected to meet, meeting room allocation including digital signage to guide them to their location, security clearance access and technology requirements, including Wi-Fi and AV or access to video conferencing facilities.
So what should a good visitor experience feel like from the Facilities Management perspective? A warm welcome, recognition, personal service, awareness of needs and the relevant information provided immediately to the individual visitor.
Speed and Efficiency
Typically, businesses have good information available on both staff and visitors arriving at a facility. As in a hotel environment, the front of house team should be using this information to provide a seamless and efficient process at the check-in point.
In a restaurant too, the dining experience is changing with the control now held by the consumer who is able to select from the menu, choose a dining seating experience and even pay up front, all through mobile technology such as Apple Pay.
For Facilities Managers to deal with staff and visitors access to the right information about the individual is critical. Secondly, the use of digital technology such as signage to communicate meeting details and direction to the relevant facilities. Thirdly, the use of room scheduling software software to engage service providers in a fast and efficient manner, potentially through mobile devices to handle the vast number of changes that can be a common facet of meeting arrangements.
Collectively the challenge is to balance maintaining the highest level of security whilst delivering a hospitable and friendly welcome.
In the hospitality market, card based technologies are increasingly used to provide secure access. The next generation of secure access will be made possible by the wider use of mobile phones for key functions including access to bedrooms, in room entertainment and of course the mini-bar!
In the corporate world, card technology is also widely used today and works well when there is good integration between the visitor management system and access to rooms and meeting spaces.
Best practice in the corporate world combines the innovative use of technology with the human touch at key points in the process, to deliver both the welcome and the security required for members of staff and visitors.
In the hospitality industry, the guest experience that exceeds expectations is always a great way to guarantee a return visitor. Even if our expectation is not delivered, how the business deals with a complaint is equally likely to influence our decision to pay a return visit.
Leading hospitality businesses now have staff dedicated to obtaining feedback and responding positively to any negative experiences. This proactive approach is seen across the consumer spectrum, including the manner in which hotels or restaurants respond to negative reviews on Trip Advisor.
So why does the corporate world have to take feedback and response seriously?
Today’s customers are having their service expectations reshaped by advances in consumer technology, and will become increasingly frustrated when having to engage with brands that don’t perform to the same levels as the competition.
The checklist for great service delivery:
- Understand the client and their service requirements and expectations.
- Have access to the right information about the client, ideally on a mobile device with the latest meeting room management software.
- Tailor the personal experience– how the client might be welcomed when engaging with a quality hospitality business.
- Use technology to support service delivery, capture the right information, including feedback when service targets have not been met.
- Where possible, embrace the latest technology to deliver a seamless experience in sensitive and complex areas such as security and facility access.
- Get the basics right, with simple issues like the provision of Wi-Fi access to staff and visitors, without the need to be asked.
- Adopt a proactive approach to client engagement to identify how well expectations have been met in all aspects of the experience.
NFS is a leading provider of technology for the hospitality market as well as providing technology to help Facilities Managers deal with room and desk booking together with visitor management and the delivery of a range of services used in the corporate world such as catering and video conferencing.