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FEATURE: HOW TECHNOLOGY SUPPORTS FRONT OF HOUSE

FEATURE: HOW TECHNOLOGY SUPPORTS FRONT OF HOUSE

Gary Harrold, Managing Director of Swiss Post Solutions UK & Ireland, explores four ways in which technology is revolutionising front of house and how you can use it to ensure your organisation lives up to expectations.

It’s no secret that the world of work has changed irrevocably since the outbreak of coronavirus. For many, the traditional 9-5 office is a relic of the past. As our latest research shows, the majority (97%) of medium and large companies say their organisation’s use of office space will change post-pandemic. 

Four in ten said this meant adopting a remote working model, doing away with centralised office. However, 44% felt that while remote working would be encouraged and/or expected, office spaces would still play a vital role - becoming central hubs for meetings and other company activities. 

This means that Front of House services will become even more critical in providing a positive employee and visitor experience. To deal with this, half of UK companies plan to introduce interactive technologies and increase their use of partners to meet these new expectations.

Based on our latest research, here we explore four ways in which technology is revolutionising front of house and how you can use it to ensure your organisation lives up to expectations.

Delivering a pandemic-aware pre-arrival experience 

It’s no surprise that ensuring the health and safety of staff, guests and visitors through enhanced hygiene and safety protocols are top of the Front of House agenda. Top of the priority list? Ensuring the health and safety of visitors and employees (67%) and maintaining hygiene protocols (38%).

To support this, the vast majority of businesses (88%) have, or will implement the requirement for visitors to complete a pre-arrival health questionnaire to support COVID-19 protocols. Nearly half say this is already in place. 

How the pre-arrival process is managed is vital. Among the most pertinent considerations are user experience and data protection - both which can be solved by the effective use of front of house technologies. Digital systems can create a seamless pre, during and post visit experience that is not only simple and secure, but helps ensure the safety of all users. 

Setting safety expectations pre-arrival doesn’t just demonstrate a proactive approach to safety. Delivered digitally, as part of a comprehensive pre-arrival package the experience is elevated beyond form-filling, to a service-first function. 

Front of mind in the remote working revolution

Even pre-pandemic, working patterns were shifting to embrace more flexible models. For example, John Lewis has now adopted a hybrid model where employees will be able to spend two days in the office and three working elsewhere, for example at home. 

With this in mind, the role of Front of House and guest services is set to expand even further. Now, it is expected that they will help manage office spaces in whole new ways. For example, managing desk spaces and accessibility. 

Technology will play a huge role in ensuring back to work is safe, and that employees have access to the space they need. For example, desk booking systems can run advanced bookings. Not only that but pre-arrival health questionnaires can set parameters for desk booking and can even bar individuals from the office on a failed questionnaire. 

Front of House stays in control with automatic cleaning notification for desk once booked out and occupancy levels automatically monitored and warnings given at pre-defined loading levels.

Meetings that exceed expectations

As we’ve touched on, the office will become a place to meet, congregate and build face-to-face relationships. In a post-COVID world this is much needed, but also presents challenges. How can Front of House play a role in ensuring productive meetings that also meet safety protocols? 

Here technology can play its part; from touch-free kiosks for self-service room book-ins to 

meeting room management systems that automatically In-built downtime between meetings to allow deep cleaning. Right now, technology for Front of House and guest services delivers three-fold; minimising physical risks, automating sticking points and, importantly delivering a superior customer experience. 

Hybrid models that pair real professionals with the latest technology

It’s important not to forget that people are still vital to delivering fantastic guest experiences and successful business support. Professional talent will always be required to ensure Front of House services are delivered with excellence.  Post-COVID, over 40% are now considering outsourcing Front of House functions to expert providers, who blend personal professionalism with the latest technology. 

Personal service is about making the customer feel like they're doing business with a human, not a company. It's a simple concept, but one that offers incredible value; exceeding a guest’s expectations before they vocalise their needs. There are risks in outsourcing your first impression. As part of any partnership decision making sure your partner’s people-strategy is first-rate must be a primary consideration.  

A new future for front of house, starting now 

It’s clear that the pandemic has led to a revolution at work and it is still a rapidly evolving environment. However, UK companies understand the benefits of technology; embracing interactive technologies that streamline and strengthen Front of House Services. 

The last year has taught us that it’s vital for companies to adopt a more agile model; those that utilise technology-led services and hybrid front of house are better positioned to drive continuous improvement.

In response to this challenge, Swiss Post Solutions has bolstered its Guest Services provision to ensure customers can embrace interactive technology that enables them to adopt a modernised visitor experience. With a strong track record of providing outsourced services for a myriad of business processes, these latest research findings prove just how important it is to blend a technology-led approach with the strength of processes and people that sit at the heart of its offering.

Focus on integrated technologies for Front of House strategy (swisspostsolutions.com).

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