31st October 2014
As the automatic curtain beside my bed inexorably drew itself up towards the roof I realised, with a sense of increasing panic and dread, that the hotel rooms opposite would have a prime view of me, rather unceremoniously lying on top of the bed in all but my boxer shorts, trying desperately to either work out how the tablet device could control the blinds or running for cover to the shower-room to protect my last vestiges of dignity.
I like FM technology and I like cool hotels that are a bit quirky and dare to be different. So, when I checked into my well-known hip branded hotel in London recently, I was looking forward to experiencing their self proclaimed ‘cool design features’. One of these, is the use of a Samsung tablet to control everything in the room except the toilet. (Although I may have missed that functionality.)
The tablet controlled the lighting moods in the room, ranging from romantic to business. It also controlled the TV, movies, sound, internet, blind and curtain in the room. A very smart device that seems intuitive to use meant I could have the shower bathed in blue light whilst I simultaneously listened to Blue Monday through the TV, should the mood have taken me. The problem came when I tried to do two things in quick succession or heaven forbid, at the same time!
My mobile phone rang, whilst I was watching TV. In order to put the TV volume down I had to switch on the tablet device, wait 10 very long seconds for it to boot up then navigate my way to the remote menu, and then find the mute button. About 20 seconds of fumbling around in all. I missed the call in the end.
But for me, the scariest part was having the deadly combination of your window blinds and lights controlled by the tablet technology. With black-out blinds leaving the room in pitch-black I found myself fumbling around to find the tablet on the bedside table, almost knocking it on the floor, and then trying to figure which button switched it on. Several fumbling moments later and I found the lights on brightly (business mode) and the curtain and black-out blinds automatically disappearing in to a recess in the ceiling and me and my boxer shorts welcoming my fellow guests to a new day. Not the way they would choose to start their day I’m sure.
Last time I checked, there was nothing broken or intrinsically labour intensive about pulling a curtain back with my right arm to welcome the day. Nor did I find myself wishing I could control my TV with a tablet. In fact, I can do this at home but I don’t because there’s just no need to…..the TV remote works perfectly well.
Technology is great and it can do great things but service companies need to carefully understand the customer journey and experience before it’s peppered into every aspect of a service experience. Otherwise customers may be exposed to more than they bargained for!
I hesitate to use our #SmallDecencies hashtag here for fear of it being misconstrued!