There has to be a backup. We can’t rely on self-service alone

Recently, I arrived at a hotel wanting to check-in, and the front-of-house staff directed me to a self-service kiosk. The kiosk asked for my surname to begin the process. I duly entered it but could not find a reservation under my name.

The booking had failed, and now I had no reservation. This wasn’t a big issue because I thought I could pay for a room there and then.

I asked to make a booking and was told:

you can’t book onsite, customers can only book online.

That wouldn’t have been a problem except I’d forgotten my phone at home. Long story short, I had to find a bar nearby to use their Wi-Fi to book online as the Wi-Fi wasn’t working properly at the hotel.

I understand from a business perspective that it’s cheaper for customers to self-serve. However, it’s essential to consider what happens when it doesn’t work and how they can continue to do business and accept custom.

When designing a service, it’s essential to design the happy and unhappy paths. Yes, the ideal path can be designed well, but there will always be exceptions, and they need to be understood and designed too. Businesses must get out into the wild and observe customers trying to do the thing they designed so they can uncover these exception paths.

Categorised as Blog