Could hospitals employ customer services robots?


New research from Durham University Business School has delved into how consumers feel when interacting with a robot fulfilling a customer-service role and concluded that for most, the experience is a positive one.

The research was conducted by Dr Zhibin Lin, Professor of Marketing at Durham University Business School, alongside colleagues from Smith School of Business, Queen’s University, Audencia Business School and Jimei University. They extracted a sample of 9,707 customer reviews from two major social media platforms of 412 hotels in eight countries. By using a machine learning model to identify the hotels which had been reviewed on their own robot-powered customer service, the researchers were able to determine the emotion a customer felt when experiencing robot customer service.
The study found that interacting with robots triggers emotions of joy, love, surprise, interest and excitement for customers, whilst discontent is mainly expressed when customers cannot use service robots due to them malfunctioning. The feeling of ‘Joy’ was felt by over 60% of customers, and ‘fear’ was the second most felt emotion, encompassing 28% of the reviews. 

Professor Zhibin Lin says: “Service robots have been increasingly adopted in hospitality service settings in recent years and large hotel chains have gradually adopted their services for housekeeping and butler services, interacting with customers and fulfilling concierge and front-desk tasks. Previous opinion has been that customers felt uneasiness and discomfort when being served by robots, however this research suggests that customers actually, on the whole, have more positive interactions with robots and enjoy the experience of being served by one.”
Catering to customer’s emotions is particularly important in consumption experiences, delivering a positive experience. This research concludes that using robot servers can be a huge differentiator for a hotel chain in creating a unique experience for customers.  It further states that the majority of customers have positive opinions and experiences with robot servers, showing strong support for the implementation of customer service robots in hotels. 

Could customer service robots also have a role in hospitals? 

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