As if making it through the first pandemic in over a hundred years hasn’t served up enough curveballs to businesses, we are now seeing another unexpected oddity – the lack of workers wanting to return to work.
Any passing overview of the labor landscape across the country and one can easily see the mounting labor shortage, especially in service sector jobs. Just weeks after the states relaxed COVID-19 restrictions on bars and restaurants, many of these businesses have to close again because they can’t find enough help.
The data tables produced each month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest a plentiful supply of would-be workers. The unemployment rate is 6 percent, representing 9.7 million Americans who say they are actively looking for work. However, strangely enough, reports from all over the country are that businesses cannot find enough workers. Some are offering signing bonuses for new hires. Others are having to close their doors due to a lack of help.
The Interdependence Between Staffing and Customer Service
The causal relationship between staffing and service is clear. Being short-staffed negatively impacts service. The steep rise in the percentage of restaurants and bars across the country reporting a shortage of workers demonstrates that.
On a personal note, my wife and I visited PF Chang’s just last night. Upon arrival, we could see the patio was only one quarter occupied with customers. To our surprise, we were told there was a thirty-minute wait to be seated on the patio. The reason given? A lack of staff.
Keep Communication Channels Open with Customers
In times when complaints mount, and the underlying reasons are beyond owner/operators’ control, open communication with customers becomes critical. Most customers, especially those already committed to your brand, will be understanding when you respond to their communication. What they do not react well to is ignoring their comments or insulating yourself from their contact altogether.
Instead of hiding their heads in the sand, business owners and customer service departments should see the current climate as an opportunity to rise above the status quo with new solutions to this age-old problem.
The Barcode: A Technical Revolution in Customer Service
New technology has often been the bridge enabling some businesses to avoid drowning in troubled waters like others around them. Consider the barcode and how revolutionary this piece of technology has been to the retail industry.
In 1966, the Kroger supermarket chain was dealing with the same dilemma as their competitors, a growing product list and the inefficiency of manual pricing and sales processing. Kroger sent out a plea for a technological solution. Six years later, Kroger the first automated checkout station in their Cincinnati supermarket. Laser technology scanned barcodes on grocery items electronically. In 1974, the Universal Bar Code (UPC) was developed to standardize the process. The rest, as we say, is history.
Barcode technology had been in development for over two decades, but it wasn’t until the ‘70s that it reached an efficiency level that made it both practical and profitable. Shorter lines and quicker checkouts were a big hit with customers, but it required a future-looking company like Kroger to get the ball rolling.
AI and Machine Learning: Technology for the Next Leap in Customer Service
Like barcode technology, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Machine Learning are not new technology. Many applications have used them over the years. What is new; is the level of accuracy and efficiency available for customer service applications that combine these two technologies. Guest-Note is at the forefront of this revolutionary advancement for retail industries.
Where barcodes improved efficiency in product processing and improved profitability, the AI and Machine Learning technology of Guest-Note do the same for customer feedback processing.
The two significant roadblocks for this technology to date have been the high cost of user license fees and the restricted flow of customer feedback from a growing list of information channels. Guest-Note’s advanced technology circumvents these issues and provides an affordable and highly effective solution.
Guest-Note Increases Productivity by 40% or More
When the consensus among consumers is that timely customer service no longer exists, Guest-Note allows your business to be the exception without hiring more staff. Our cloud-based solution eliminates the high costs of user licensing and IT support. Guest-Note has achieved that critical level of practical efficiency combined with improved profitability necessary for full-scale adoption to handle all your customer communications.