Luxury service has been associated with a high degree of human touch for a long time. And rightfully so. Who better to take care of your evening plans in a new city than an experienced concierge at a luxury hotel?
While high-touch service speaks to many people, thinking that it is the only path to luxury is plain wrong! What about introverts? Or people who don’t feel like talking to anyone on a particular day? They need to have the option to receive the service with as little human touch as possible.
Who are the high-income earners in the digital world? Techies! And what do techies like? Technology!
My definition of luxury is an abundance of options. The more luxurious the restaurant, the more comprehensive is the wine list. Luxury hotels have a great choice of amenities for a reason. But what about the option to choose between interacting and not interacting with human service providers?
As the demographic of affluent customers change, so does the perception of luxury. Who are the high-income earners in the digital world? Techies! And what do techies like? Technology! Every opportunity where business can use technology to eliminate a step in the service flow - like when Uber automated how we pay for the rides – is an opportunity to gain competitive advantage.
Incorporating technology into your service flow is not about technology vs. human touch – it is about human touch enhanced by technology. Let’s look at two trends for examples:
Retail Store: Sales Associate & Endless Aisle
Retailers’ dilemma: Too much attention from sales associates makes shoppers uncomfortable and pushes them out of the store. Too little attention, however, and people start walking out because they don’t feel valued or can’t get any info. Endless Aisle technology eliminates this dilemma by placing the decision of when and if the interactions happen in the hands of the customer. Endless Aisle screens allow shoppers to learn more about products at their own pace, check in-store availability, accessories, place an order or request assistance from sales associates at any given time.
If you had an opportunity to interact with millennials, like I did while teaching at a local college, you would have notice they are not the most outgoing generation. A face-to-face chat with many of them can be an awkward experience. Yet, online they are friendly, engaged and relaxed. This is due to the fact that they are used to interact with the world through a screen. I am not suggesting retailers should replace humans with screens, but provide a screen as an option and let customers decide.
Restaurant: Server & ReadyToPay
The way we pay at restaurants is very inefficient. It takes at least 10 minutes from the moment we are ready to leave to when we actually walk out the door. No matter how helpful and friendly restaurant staff are – we lose 10 minutes on average every time we eat at a restaurant. That adds up to 20 hours or more per year!
With pay-at-the-table apps, like ReadyToPay, we can view our bill, add a tip, rate the service, and pay directly on the smartphone – with no extra fees! Not to mention saving e-receipts for expenses instead of juggling multiple paper receipts. While guests love this time-saving convenience, some servers feel threatened by the technology. They feel that they are losing the opportunity to interact with guests. What they don’t realize is this technology is meant to automate boring tasks and free up servers to do fun, creative, enjoyable tasks.
Imagine what a server in a busy restaurant can do with extra 10 minutes every hour? Instead of delivering checks (boring repetitive task) the server can work the floor, recommend special cocktails, bring samples of the new craft beer or tell a joke.
Your customers are tech-savvy, and they're looking for more.
Modern age luxury requires technology to improve experiences. To react fast is luxury. Anticipating guests' needs are much easier when you have technology to take care of the basics.
In today's highly competitive industries, few things will help you stand out from a crowded field more than dedication to providing an excellent level of service, and technology is essential to help you make that happen. The future of luxury service is dependent on providing more than just great product. Your customers are tech-savvy, and they're looking for more.
Looking to add technology to your customer experience?