“Hello. How can I help you?” you say to the gentleman standing at the Lost and Found kiosk.
He anxiously replies, “Yes, my name is Mike Robertson.
I am looking for a lost iPhone X. I am sure you get these a lot but if I do not find it my boss is going to fire me.”
“Let me check,” you say as you head to the Lost and Found storage area.
You begin walking up and down the three aisles of unnamed boxes filled to the brim looking for an iPhone X.
This is your first day on the job. You are not familiar with how items are “organized.”
You walk for a good seven minutes before returning to the counter.
“Did you find it?” Mike stammers.
“I am sorry, I did look at the most recent return boxes. However, I could not find it,” you reply.
You take down Mike’s information because you are not sure what else you can do to help at this point.
Distraught, Mike thanks you and goes on his way.
Phones are a dime a dozen. Unfortunately, after a few short days, they lose their power making many of them unidentifiable.
Most end up being thrown out or donated.
What do you think the chances are for Mike to get his iPhone X back?
How do you feel knowing you could not help Mike because of an inefficient process? Is your Lost and Found process as disorganized as this?
It doesn’t have to be.
Use lost and found software to ensure your customers get their possessions back.
The Lost and Found Status Quo
It seems that operations put all the effort in every other aspect of their operation. They often forget about an essential piece of the customer experience – lost and found.
People lose things. This unfortunate circumstance leaves them annoyed. Experiencing this loss can tarnish any happy memory they generated while at your property.
Now, they focus on how to get their possession back. It gets worse because once they get to the lost and found kiosk on the other side of the property, your team will not have answers they need.
You have lost items. Boxes of lost things. However, you could not tell your customer whether their lost item is in any one of them. You must search through the endless aisles of boxes and uncategorized items.
Is your lost and found department where lost items go to die? Many operations create more anxiety for their customers than good. Why even have a lost and found department?
Rather than returning lost items to their owners, you are waiting for the end of the week, so you can trash these items or donate them. It is easier, not efficient.
You need an efficient lost and found process. You need to get items back to their rightful owners before sending them to Goodwill.
Using lost and found software, you can eliminate the suffering customers like Mike Robertson feel after losing their possessions. Losing a possession no longer needs to be a lost battle from the start.
Don’t challenge the status quo, remove it.
How Lost and Found Software Helps You Return More Items
The problem with many lost and found processes is the lack of structure. A solution does not exist in your operation that provides checks for lost and found items.
Software changes this.
However, there is not one function that lets you magically increase the number of lost items returned to customers. It is a collective of how the system operates.
Lost and found is not pardoned from the requirements of Proactive Operations. You must apply the same strategy, infrastructure, and technology to realize success.
Your solution must combine the four principal parts below.
- Frictionless processes for reporting a lost or found item.
- A structure for managing and tracking things not only in your lost and found storage but also throughout your property.
- Documentation of all lost and found item transactions.
- Matching capabilities give your staff a seamless method by using essential item characteristics to find the needle in a haystack.
Frictionless processes for reporting a lost or found item.
Your customers can report lost items right from your website. This is a convenient way to submit a claim from the comfort of their home or hotel.
Not everyone realizes they forgot something right away, and this gives them peace of mind knowing they can take care of it.
It also reduces the time it takes employees to become aware of a lost item. It prevents possessions from slipping through the cracks.
A structure for managing and tracking items throughout your property.
Eliminate training shortcomings and storage problems immediately with a unified and digital process for lost and found management. Having confirmed process makes ramping up new staff seamless.
They can confidently do their job – from day one.
Printing storage tags, organizing items, and emailing receipts to customers strengthens your employees' consistency for managing and tracking things.
You are eliminating waste, removing inefficiencies, and executing a systematic plan for ensuring customers get their items back.
Documentation of all lost and found item transactions.
Digital records let you track and manage lost and found claims with ease. Digital documentation is crucial. It is at your fingertips and always there for you to reference.
The recording capabilities of lost and found solutions ensure nothing gets missed.
Consider this; you would have known whether you had Mike Robertson’s iPhone X.
Not worrying about losing items within your lost and found department is necessary for peace of mind.
Matching capabilities give your staff a seamless method by using essential item characteristics to find the needle in a haystack.
Efficiently get lost things back to their owner by matching lost items to found items in seconds.
Let the software do the heavy lifting for your team while they enjoy all the praise.
Mike’s phone case had a sticker of his company logo on it.
This is a tell-tale sign that you found his phone. Do you see the value?
You reduce the amount of time wasted searching for items that may not even exist.
Once you eliminate the efficiencies, everyone enjoys peace of mind.
A Few Questions to Evaluate Your Lost and Found Operation
You understand the importance of lost and found software. The time to break through the status quo is now.
Implement a solution to fortify your efforts.
Rebuilding your lost and found department puts more lost items into the hands of owners.
Use these questions to evaluate your current operation to move forward.
- How does your lost and found department measure up? Is Mike Robertson’s experience typical at your property? Alternatively, do you have a better process in place?
- Has your lost and found department been overlooked? Did you forget to apply Proactive Operations when building this often-missed operation?
- Do you have a system in place for handling lost and found? If you do have a system, is it easy to use or does it have cumbersome requirements that leave your staff angry?
- Are pen and paper the way you manage your lost and found operation? Does the spreadsheet help or is it a façade?
- What are your customers saying about your ability to return their possessions? Do they blame you?
- Do your staff complain that they are overwhelmed with lost items calls? Do your employees lack confidence in the process of handling lost and found items?
- Are you ready to kick the status quo?
You know this, your lost and found department is vital. It impacts the experience of your customers. So, how does it stack up?
Over to You
The absence of strategy, infrastructure, and technology leaves many lost and found departments ineffective.
Lost and found software gives you a tool to institute each of these missing pieces from your operation. Organize, manage, and efficiently return lost items to your customers before they are thrown out or donated.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in May 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and freshness.