IT Harming Customer Service?

I know such a statement
might make me sound anti-progressive; people might accuse me of being
against any development, but the fact of the matter remains and I
will stick to my guns that too much automated systems (at the expense
of losing the personal touch) is detrimental for the services sector.
This is true especially for the hospitality industry and I have three
incidents that took place in the last few months to embellish my view

I write this piece
in my hotel room in downtown Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia; I am here as
DQ Channels, a sister publication of The DQ Week, is organizing a
residential convention for the country’s top solution providers.
Yesterday, when me and a couple of colleagues from event management
team checked in to the hotel, we were told to wait for a few hours
for our rooms as the system would reflect the booking after some
time. Now, only after some cajoling did we manage to get the rooms,
but it was ridiculous a hotel reception compromising on customer
service at the expense of system conformance. Do we really want such
disruptive IT?

That’s not all. While
placing order by room service, the attendant kept on insisting that
the system is right now not allowing her to add it to the room
charges and she insisted on cash payment. Only on threatening to
cancel the booking, did she relent-again over-dependence on IT led
to a serious compromise on customer service quality. Unfortunately,
hotels do not seem to be understanding this. A few months, as I had
narrated in this column, I had faced similar automation-related
challenges at one of the swankiest hotels in Washington DC.

My door had got stuck on
the sixteenth floor, and I had to go up and down several times as
despite activation the key was not working and the receptionist was
pleading helplessness as the system was showing key was alright.
Again that needed yelling followed by thee arrival of a hefty guy who
opened the door with a kick. Similarly, my senior colleague was not
allowed to check in for several hours in Las Vegas because of some
automation-related challenges.

This again brings up the
pertinent question that can a service sector compromise so heavily on
quality of customer service just by becoming so addicted to its IT. I
am not against IT automation, but becoming a slave to it and thereby
ditching all your customer services etiquettes just do not sound
right, it might also lead to problems or fearful scenarios of
Orwellian proportions. Channel partners and also smaller resellers
thrive on relationship; while I am all for them embracing IT to
improve business productivity, I hope it does not mean the demise of
their inherent customer service strength.

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