Unordinary Thinking No.5 – Outsmarting technology. A Thai bellboy’s approach

You know that feeling when you lose an arm? Or do I actually mean lose your iphone, cannot access email or do not have your computer systems working for 20 minutes? Feelings of helplessness, panic and being a bit lost are not uncommon.

All our software, systems and mobile phones enable us to work more productively, generate improved solutions and treat customers better (presumably). But does the technology make us lazy in our thinking and blind to simpler, better solutions?

Consider the following. A friend who works in Hong Kong recently told me this story.

Last year he returned back on business to a hotel in Bangkok which he had previously visited on holiday three years earlier. Getting out of his taxi, he was warmly welcomed by a uniformed chap at the entrance to the lobby who offered to take his bag and engaged in the usual bit of hotel chit chat.

He approached the front desk to be greeted by one of the beautifully presented hotel receptionists. “Welcome back, sir-it’s so nice to have you staying with us again”. He was a bit surprised. He tried to get a quick look at her computer screen to see what kind of customer management system she was using. He cast his mind back to how he had booked the hotel (his secretary had arranged it over the internet) and what information he might have given which would have enabled her to welcome him as she had. He was genuinely puzzled since he could not recall providing anything which would have helped her.

So he asked. Evidently, she was at first a bit coy in that very Thai way, but my friend was insistent and she cracked. She pointed over to the man who had previously carried his bag and who was now greeting another guest. “Watch what he does when he comes over to us with this lady”. My friend did not notice anything in particular. Seeing his blank face, she explained: “The first question he asks a guest is ‘is this your first visit to us here?’ If it is, he carries the guest’s bag in his left hand, if they are returning it’s his right hand. I just look out.”

This is currently one of our favourite stories of unordinary thinking. Does anyone have something which beats it? We would love to hear about it.

Posted by Ajai Ranawat, Lexden.

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands. For more information on how we can help you contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123. And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

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