Virtual assistants are there to empower your front desk, not replace it. Here's how to help your staff embrace their new AI team member.
Guest experience is the key to success in the beauty and wellness industry, and your front desk staff plays a vital role in keeping your guests happy. Their in-person interactions can turn first-time visitors into loyal customers, and their dedication to making your guests feel special is integral to the success of your business. However, your front desk staff has a lot more on their plate than just tending to guests visiting your location. On any given day they are juggling phone calls, bookings, reschedules, cancellations, promoting memberships and other in-store offers... the list goes on and on. This has led to many industries, including the beauty and wellness space, turning to AI customer service platforms to help free up much-needed time for staff to concentrate on those all-important human interactions. While we celebrate the superhuman power of virtual assistants to transform customer service, and with news popping up regularly of retail giants like Amazon and Sephora replacing delivery staff with robots or drones, it’s easy to understand why your staff could be a little reluctant to embrace AI.
The important thing is to help them understand that the need for human touch will always be necessary for the beauty and wellness space, and instead of worrying about being replaced, your staff should be excited about their new virtual team member as it's there to make their lives easier. By following up on missed calls via text, managing time-consuming booking tasks, and answering repetitive queries, an AI virtual assistant like SmartBot gives your staff time to fully focus on what they do best – delighting your guests.
Here are some ways to get your front desk staff excited about working with your new SmartBot.
Be transparent from the start
First things first, don’t let the new AI addition be a shock to your staff. Let them know in advance that you’ll be implementing a virtual assistant and be open about why you made the decision. Be clear about changes they can expect, listen to any concerns they may have, and be sure to explain how this is going to help them.
Emphasize the benefits for them
No one likes to feel like they are being replaced, especially by technology, so it’s understandable that your staff may have some concerns about how AI will affect their job. That’s why it’s essential to communicate the many ways a virtual assistant like SmartBot will empower your front desk staff.
Emphasize the benefits your front desk will see by offloading mundane or repetitive admin tasks to SmartBot, like having time to focus on more rewarding tasks and developing new skills. Give them a scenario where they can see the benefit, like reminding them of a time when they had to cut an in-person guest interaction short because the phone was ringing continuously, only to answer the call and get asked a question about parking – something an AI assistant like SmartBot could have easily taken care of. Your other team members will also see huge benefits if your front desk staff is busy or calls in sick. Picture this: It’s a hectic day at your salon as your receptionist called in sick and you’re left with no alternative but to seek support from your other salon staff for front desk call management. Your stylist Rose has just brought her first-time guest to the salon chair for a hair transformation, and the second her guest starts describing the style she wants, the phone rings. As no one is available to answer, the phone keeps ringing very loudly, making it hard for Rose and her guest to continue talking. Rose excuses herself, answers the phone and spends 10 minutes assisting a caller with rescheduling their next appointment. 30 minutes later, the phone rings again. Now Rose has to decide whether she should let it go to voicemail, or interrupt her guest’s service again and leave a bad impression during her first visit to the salon. With a virtual assistant like SmartBot, those calls could have been managed fully while Rose focused on ensuring a great guest experience – making her job a whole lot easier!
Show staff how AI is already affecting their lives
The fear of the unknown is real, so it’s good to remind your staff how much they already use AI in their daily lives. 46% of Americans use digital voice assistants, so it’s highly likely your staff are using Siri, Cortana, or Alexa to get answers quicker. This means they can already understand the benefits AI will bring to their guests, without replacing the need for human interactions.
Involve and empower your staff
Although your team is probably familiar with AI, it’s a good idea to take some time to show them how your new virtual assistant works. Demonstrate how your Bot will handle a missed call or a booking request from start to finish, so your team can rest assured they can rely on their new AI colleague.
When configuring your Bot’s answers to FAQs, try involving your staff in crafting the responses. This way their virtual teammate can reflect a little bit of their personality, helping them feel more connected.
Ask for feedback and listen
Let your staff know you care about their opinion and once your AI assistant is live, have regular check-ins about how they are finding working alongside it. Giving your employees an opportunity to get together to exchange information, ask questions, or suggest improvements is integral to helping them build a great working relationship with their AI teammate, and getting the best results for you.
It’s estimated that AI can increase productivity by 40% or more, so take time to ensure your staff is getting the most out of working with your virtual assistant.
It’s human nature to feel reluctant about change and introducing an AI assistant can take a little adjustment, but by reminding your staff that it’s there to help and empower them, highlighting the many ways it will make their jobs easier, and keeping an open line of communication, your staff will fall in love with their new AI teammate in no time.
Watch this video to see how SmartBot helped Gent Cuts and Grooming empower its staff and master business continuity.