November 2016 kicked off in New York City with 70 degree temperatures and the Fast Company Innovation Festival. The one-of-a-kind event featured more than 125 events across multiple stages to spark creativity and innovation. This year’s theme: Find your Mission, Deepen your Purpose. While mission is a statement of what we do, purpose states why we do it.
Noah Robischon, Executive Editor at Fast Company, moderated the first of the keynote sessions with extraordinary personalities Danny Meyer and Neil Blumenthal. These inspiring leaders are shaping the hospitality industry and proving that technology can help the industry re-find their mission, and deepen their purpose. They view technology as a tool to empower humans on both sides of the table to strengthen the power of hospitality.
Neil Blumenthal is Co-CEO and Co-founder of Warby Parker, a transformative web retailer and lifestyle brand. Warby Parker embodies a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective to brand sophistication. Warby Parker offers designer eyewear at revolutionary prices while leading the way for socially conscious businesses. In 2015, Fast Company tagged Warby Parker as the most innovative company in the world.
Danny Meyer is the CEO and Founder of Union Square Hospitality Group and Shake Shack. The hospitality group has created some of New York’s most beloved restaurants and bars, in addition to a consulting and events company. Meyer’s distinctive approach permeates throughout the group’s family of businesses as their signature culinary excellence, warm hospitality, and service. In 2015, Meyer was named to the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.
Hospitality is defined as the friendly and generous, reception and treatment of guests, visitors, or strangers. This industry broadly applies to every business that focuses on customer satisfaction. Rapidly evolving technology solutions and technology-driven consumers are democratizing hospitality and revealing opportunities for novel experiences.
There are a minimum of twenty or thirty moments of truth that a service provider can leverage. These are interactions between a customer and the service provider that can leave a lasting positive or negative impression on a customer. By collecting, analyzing, and using data, every service provider can better recognize and understand these moments of truth and convert them into moments that matter.
When your product is a commodity, customers return for the experience, said Meyer. The ability to deliver a differentiating experience every time is rare and valuable. Sadly, as of Forrester’s 2015 Customer Experience Index report, only 1% of U.S. companies currently deliver an excellent customer experience.
Technology can play a critical role in reshaping both the back of the house and the front of the house experiences in the hospitality industry. Rather than overwhelm the customer, strategically placed technology solutions can streamline the customer interaction to create immersive, personalized, and memorable experiences. As functional lines blur, every role in the company has the opportunity to connect and capitalize on an interaction with the customer.
Realizing this potential has hospitality professionals taking on new roles. They are emerging as customer experience (CX) specialists who are focused on understanding the customer to create a memorable moment. Every customer interaction, good or bad, is an opportunity to seize and market the brand.
Introducing technology at customer touch points in a human way allows CXers to connect the dots to eliminate low value interaction and enhance high value interaction. Information and understanding enables communication. Communication within and across teams is engaging and empowers them to respond near real-time to customer moments.
Delivering truly exceptional moments that matter requires a break from the norm. Experience has convinced Danny and Neil that hospitality does not start with the customer. It starts with your employees. Your customers are never going to be happier than your employees, they agreed. The right technology, at the right time, in the hands of the right people has the power to strengthen and deliver an outstanding brand experience to both employees and customers. Innovation and creativity inside the house is truly hospitality with understanding.
Image Credit: Lisa @ Sierra Tierra