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How do you get employees and visitors back into the workplace safely using technology to enhance the experience?

As the Covid-19 crisis continues, with hospitality being one of the hardest hit sectors, RA Group has worked with its extensive network to share insight around various topics in order to help businesses when thinking about their guest journey.

Hosted by Julius Jungbeck, Head of Business Excellence at Rapport, RA Group’s most recent panel discussion saw Greg Mace of Rapport, Andy Weeks of Vpod, and Simon Cohen of Condeco, discuss the role technology can play over coming months, to help staff and customers feel safe and supported, and to enhance customer experience.

In order of appearance: Greg Mace, Julius Jungbeck, Andy Weeks and Simon Cohen

Against a dangerous backdrop, one of the biggest challenges is how to keep people safe while also providing a great experience.

*Greg:  This is absolutely possible, we just need to adopt a different mindset. The role of technology is to complement the customer experience and aid safety to build trust. For early returners, reassurance will be key, and the use of technology can free up staff to ensure increased presence such as having someone at the door to greet new arrivals.

*Andy: Technology allows parts of the customer journey to be automated to provide a better flow and smoother journey. Ultimately the tech that offices are adopting is there to aid staff and free up time to allow for good customer service, providing essential support to keep visitors safe and feeling comfortable.

*Simon: Technology has been improving customer experiences for a while, there is just a heightened role for technology in the current climate. Adopting good safety protocols will ultimately improve the customer journey, and it’s important to have technology in place that is easy and natural to use so that it doesn’t take away from the natural experience customers are used to.

It’s really important in the current climate to ensure the guest experience is just right. What are the most common challenges in reception areas?

*Greg: There are a number of key challenges, and no-one would deny that we’re facing a difficult time. It has been really important, first and foremost, to safeguard our own team and ensure they’re supported and in the right mindset. Positive mental health training and anticipating scenarios is crucial to staff motivation, to ensure guests in turn are greeted with positivity and confidence. Alongside the emotional training, practical training has been important when thinking about preparing for the return of the workforce, in areas such as crowd control.

*Simon: Congestion is probably the biggest challenge, when thinking about reception areas. Each individual space needs to be considered and planned, with no cookie cutter approach applied. Cleanliness, and striking the right balance has been another of our biggest considerations alongside implementing contact tracing.

*Andy: Some of the challenges we’re anticipating with reception areas may become heightened but certainly aren’t new. Waiting times in reception, peaks and troughs of traffic and offering best service are the main areas we look at, ensuring we maintain good guest service and management. For me, the biggest concern is in avoiding knee jerk reactions to the environment. The ‘new’ workplace will look different, with thermal imaging cameras and new barriers in place. It’ll be important to try and retain a human element and not create a completely sterile environment.

Does technology make for a more complicated environment?

*Greg: Integration is key for ease of use with technology and ensuring a seamless workflow. Ignore the complex work going on behind the scenes, everything needs to appear simple and easy through the customer eye and, if this is the case, it doesn’t matter the actuality of complexity of the technology being used.

*Simon: There’s no denying that complicated technology is being implemented, however this shouldn’t affect the guest experience. We always look through the guests lens to ensure that the journey and experience is simple and optimum.

Connectivity is important. More than ever people are craving human interaction. Does technology create any barriers here?

*Andy: Our technology isn’t about replacing people, rather aiding staff to provide a better service. The whole point of clever technology is to create something complementary to work seamlessly with humans. Ultimately, if done right, technology should enrich an experience and allow for better customer service.

*Simon: Technology, in the current climate, will help people get back to work sooner ultimately leading to increased face to face time. In my mind, technology is crucial to safe planning and building a positive experience.

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