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Going Beyond Machine Logic

When I was told that my new refrigerator would be delivered in a two-hour window between 7 and 9 p.m., I had my doubts. Despite my incredulity, that was what the pre-recorded message had said, so we waited. And waited. And waited. Lo and behold, no refrigerator was delivered and trying to get a human on the phone at 9:30 at night proved difficult.

I love a good automated system as much as the next person, but when that automation creates more friction or completely derails a service experience, something must be re-evaluated. At 10:30 p.m. I no longer wanted to press one, or “text, Tweet, or email my problem.” I wanted a human voice to explain why I still had perishable food sitting on my counter and telling me what would be done to make the situation right.

For this month’s cover story, we sat down with Lance Miceli, the EVP & CMO of G6 Hospitality, who shared insights into how the 50-year-old company’s revamped digital ecosystem enables the customer journey through the thoughtful combination of technology and human insight. This included a proprietary revenue management system as well as improved digital customer-facing touchpoints. A through line for G6 across the various upgrades was the importance of removing friction, which was accomplished by anticipating the needs and wants of guests.

As I write this, I still don’t have a new refrigerator, and the old model stands as a symbol of a true breakdown in customer service. Perhaps if the system that automatically scheduled a delivery for 9 p.m. had had some human oversight, it would have realized that might not be convenient for a customer. Perhaps if the technology had been taken one step further, when a call came in of an incomplete delivery at 10 p.m., a mobile notification would have alerted a manager who could have reached out to a disgruntled customer to ensure that things would be made right. None of that has happened yet, but I like to think that if a touch of machine learning had been paired with a dash of human intelligence, I would be gazing at a brand new refrigerator or at least have a more positive story about top-notch customer service.

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