Robotic or Human Customer Experience    

Which one does your organisation deliver?

I have just returned from back-to-back trips to Shanghai and Bali.

I promise not to show you any travel photos!

However, I will share with you two contrasting service experiences at the places that I was staying at.

In one establishment, I was served by robots (or so it felt like). The other establishment served up a very human customer experience. And, based on my response as a customer, the negative or positive impact will flow directly to the bottom line.

The question for you is, “What style of service does your organisation deliver?”

Let me explain.

Robotic service – a barrier to business growth

Breakfast time at a 4 star hotel in Shanghai.

The restaurant staff were watching the tables with laser-focused eyes. Whenever a plate on a table in front of a customer became empty, they quickly swooped to take it away.

The customer seemed to be invisible in the world of these service staff. No acknowledgement, no smile, no eye contact.

In their minds, their role was to ensure that the restaurant was run efficiently, like items off a checklist to be ticked off; customers-in, plates off tables, tables cleaned, table set, ready for the next diner’s plates to be removed once again.

The impact was a non-human, robotic experience, delivered to customers.

The service was not bad. Rather, it was bland.  Employee eyes were on the plates, rather than on the customers.

Service in the rest of the hotel was pretty much the same.

When people ask me what this hotel is like, I will say, “It’s ok”. This hotel is missing out on opportunities for people like me to recommend it to others. And, they lose countless thousands of opportunities like this every year.

The root cause of the issue is the service culture in this hotel. The customer experience has been defined in terms of efficiency. This hotel does not realise that efficiency is the “ticket to the game”. It is the human experience that will build customer loyalty.

As a post-script to this story, I went to the lobby lounge to have a drink with three colleagues. We experienced the same style of robotic, non-human experience. Happy customers buy more. Robotic service does not create happy emotions. We bought one drink and left.

Sales opportunities lost. Every day. And the hotel does not realise what is happening.

The human experience – a key to business growth

I stayed at the Samaya Seminyak, in Bali. (I only mention the business if I had a good experience!)

This is a high premium resort. And yet, there is high repeat business rate.

I could talk about the beautiful setting, the spacious villas with private pools, the afternoon teas that they bring you every day, the wonderful breakfasts and much more.

But, again, these elements are just “tickets to the game” when you are operating in this premium market.

It was clear that staff know that they are here for one reason – to create happy customers.

This customer-focused mind-set drives the behaviours of staff at the resort.

So, what did they do?

They delivered  a consistently warm, friendly experience, where nothing was too much trouble.

Their eyes were focused on the customer. They were friendly. They smiled warmly. No fake smiles here.

They talked to us as if we were welcome friends at every contact that we had with them.

I had trouble connecting my laptop onto the internet. Karmaya, a staff member, came to our villa, fixed the problem, and ended up teaching us some healthy stretching exercises! Wow! IT plus yoga!

We felt real joy when Putu and Fitria delivered afternoon tea. The three tiers of sweets and savouries were really good. But it was the happy conversational interaction with these staff members that created the joy.

And, of course, at breakfast, they took our plates away. But, unlike my Shanghai experience, the eyes of staff at the Samaya were focused on us, the customers, rather than on the plates. They took time to speak with us.

One thing that amazed us was that they remembered our names. If a staff member was introduced to three guests at one time, they would remember all three names.

And, when we returned the next day, they welcomed us by name. Wow!

I asked one of the breakfast staff members how they remember our names. She said that they do their best to remember so that we are a name rather than a room number to them. Wow!

Their service was from the heart.

Does your business offer robotic service or a human experience?

So, how does the above apply to you?

While accommodation and food may not be a part of your business, the concept of the customer experience is.  Take time out to observe how your people deliver service. Be a customer of your own organisation. What sort of interactions do you observe?

Do you see your staff building customer loyalty and building sales by delivering a human service experience? Is there a culture of “we are here for one reason – the customer”, in your organisation?

Or is your service efficiently robotic?

One way or another, you will feel the impact on your bottom line, short term and long term.

Until next time.

2 thoughts on “Robotic or Human Customer Experience    

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