Technology That Enhances the Customer Experience With the Human Touch Is a Rarity


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Technology That Enhances the Customer Experience With the Human Touch Is a Rarity

Carnival Corporation recently announced their Ocean Medallion is on board. Similar to the MagicBand used at Disney, the Ocean Medallion is a device, worn by each passenger, that will enhance customer service, improve efficiency and create a customized personalized experience. I love it, but actually seeing a company utilize technology to enhance the customer experience is a rarity….and it shouldn’t be.

Too many companies buy the latest gadget to reduce expenses only to end up diminishing the customer experience by replacing humans with robots. Technology can be replicated, but not the person-to-person interaction.

The Ocean Medallion is an aluminum disk that can be worn as a wristband, pendant, and necklace or just carried in the passenger’s pocket. The Regal Princess will be the first ship to feature the Ocean Medallion technology. On the Ocean Medallion’s maiden voyage, the kinks will be worked out, and eventually rolled out to other brands.

Guests will be sent the medallion weeks in advance of their cruise. The technology will expedite embarkation, disembarkation, open staterooms, etc. and remove the need for paper or plastic credit cards. That is the advancement in technology that is emphasized in the press.

However, there is much more to the story and that is what impressed me and got my attention as a customer experience expert. I had the pleasure to hear a keynote address delivered by Carnival’s CEO Arnold Donald at the Fort Lauderdale Chamber Annual Luncheon. He explained wait staff, such as bartenders and other servers, will instantly know what drink or dining preference each passenger prefers based on recent onboard selections.  The staff will see the passenger’s name appear on their screen and respond with,  “Mr. Shapiro, I see you have been ordering Kettle One Vodka over the rocks, with a twist,” is that what you’d like me to get for you?”

That scenario is the perfect match between technology, personalization and adding the most important element of good customer service, the human-to-human interaction. Too many technology companies miss that piece of the puzzle. Yes, the technology might make a system faster and better, but the bottom line should be to enhance the human-to-human communication and interaction.

On a cruise ship, passengers are in the confined space of the ship. The Ocean Medallion is a device that will improve their personal experience and make their trip more memorable.  The application of this technology is broad; as more companies adapt this technology, geographic areas will expand and include the potential for any associate in retail or hospitality to access the customer’s previous purchases, their name, where they live, etc. as they walk through the door.

Back to the maiden voyage of the the Ocean Medallion on Carnival.  I think Carnival is steering their customer service in the right direction.  Full steam ahead!  We will revisit the topic when the ship returns.

 What do you think?

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Republished with author's permission from original post.

Richard Shapiro
Richard R. Shapiro is Founder and President of The Center For Client Retention (TCFCR) and a leading authority in the area of customer satisfaction and loyalty. For 28 years, Richard has spearheaded the research conducted with thousands of customers from Fortune 100 and 500 companies compiling the ingredients of customer loyalty and what drives repeat business. His first book was The Welcomer Edge: Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business and The Endangered Customer: 8 Steps to Guarantee Repeat Business was released February, 2016.


  1. I like how you write this article, Richard. Very thought-provoking, too. It makes you want to think and reassess how dependent people have become with technology that they forgot that a bit of a human touch can go a long way. As for us, we may be using a CTI called Tenfold and it may have advanced data science that can determine which leads should we call or when is the best time to follow-up with a lead, but all the talking has to be done by the sales rep. No automation, whatsover. Just pure human-to-human customer experience.

  2. Hi Brooke, thanks for your comments. Thanks for letting me know about Tenfold. I like its underlying concept that it encourages phone conversations; human-to-human. Too many sales people send robotic emails that do nothing to create and build customer relationships. Richard

  3. There was an interesting discussion on this following a blog about Ocean Medallion posted in January, 2017 (see 5 Things Retailers Can Learn From Booking a Smart Cruise)

    As I commented on that blog, I don’t find this technology appealing. That’s OK. I have no doubt that many people are jazzed by it. For me, the bigger issue is data governance. What information is being collected? Who “owns” the data? Who will have access to it? For how long? Could my personal data be sold without my knowledge or approval? How will this data be protected?

    Wearable technology has been available to consumers for many years, and nobody should be under the delusion that highly personal information isn’t collected. What happens to that data, and how will it be used should be top concerns for anyone preparing to use this device.

    Companies that want to sell consumers on the ‘sizzle’ that personalization brings to the customer experience should be forthcoming about their obligations for governance. Every company should disclose at a minimum:

    1) what data is being collected about customers
    2) who has access to that data
    3) how that data will be used
    4) whether the data will be shared with third parties, and for what purpose(s)
    5) how (or whether!) that data is protected, and for how long

    In January, when I asked these of the Princess phone representative, she wasn’t able to provide me even a privacy policy. I think that needs to be fixed.

  4. Hi Andrew, I definitely agree with you about your concerns regarding privacy. We used to be careful about giving out our cell numbers to people we didn’t know; now companies know more about us than we know about ourselves. Thanks for sharing the link to the January article as well. Richard


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