From the Frontlines: A Conversation with Taylor Light on Hospitality’s Customer-Employee Relationship

employee experience hospitality restaurant interview

Welcome back to From the Frontlines! In this series, Harri highlights members of our team who are up to big things and have inside insights into the hospitality industry. This week we met with Taylor Light, an Account Executive at Harri to discuss hospitality’s customer-employee relationship and how employee sentiment ties into better guest experiences. 

Hey Taylor, thanks for joining us again today! Hospitality is undergoing a massive shift towards reopening. How are guests and employees handling these changes?

Thanks for having me here! It really depends on the establishment, but in general, it’s not great. There’s still a lot of confusion regarding masking protocols which is leading to frustration, a lack of empathy towards restaurant workers, and staffing challenges across the whole industry. 

To speak to the last point, a recent study showed that 43% of customers are frustrated that restaurants are short-staffed. Combine those pain points with the fact that demands to return to pre-pandemic normalcy lend themselves to unrealistic expectations…and we’re seeing a lot of friction between guests and staff.

That’s a difficult situation for operators and their teams. What can brands do to ease these tensions?

Operators are trying their best to stay afloat, hire new staff, and provide a great customer experience, but it’s incredibly difficult to juggle all at once.

Hospitality is so fast-paced that there’s always some pressing matter at hand, but this is a whole new level. Operators can start backward to figure out areas that can be improved, starting with the guest experience. A lot of times the guest experience is improved by making improvements in the employee experience, so that can be used to tackle two problems with one solution.

Great point! What’s an example of an employee experience improvement that’s felt across the entire business?

While the employee experience is thought of as a “soft” metric, and therefore less of a priority, retention is an incredibly powerful number that mirrors employee experience KPIs.

COVID-19 really caused hospitality workers to take a step back and evaluate if they want to stay in the industry. They’re looking at brand-to-employee interactions under a microscope. If understaffed operations is stressing out your customers, you can bet it’s creating even greater challenges for your team. So if you only have two people working, you might want to adjust service capacity to reflect what your team is capable of. Taking steps in that direction can be used to boost retention by creating a better employee experience without overburdening managers.

That makes sense, we’re a people-first industry after all! Do you have any closing thoughts?

As people slowly return to the industry, it’s important to consider how you can achieve effective operations and put processes in place to ensure success for your teams that will then benefit your customers. Technology is an invaluable tool here to consolidate and streamline operations, and it’s not too late to begin implementing them in your organization. 

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