The front desk functions as the public face of a business and works to greet patrons and to check in guests. It also assists guests with what they need. The front office is important in providing the first and last impression of the business since it has the longest interaction with guests. It impacts on the overall opinion of the business.
Despite the front desk being essential in business, it can also be a liability. One of the liability is the front desk using their cell phone. Since the evolution of the cell phones to smart phones equipped with perks such as texting and social media, people are using them frequently and sometimes even during the workday. Distraction from the use mobile phones can result in mistakes in data entry, inattentive customer care, inaccurate recording of information and a general case of impoliteness. Another liability is the use of front desk computer for leisure. This could result in distraction and time spent away from the designated responsibilities. There could also be instances of a virus being downloaded.
There are also potential cases of negligence at the front desk. One of the potential cases of negligence is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violation. It is the disclosure of personal information to a source that is not authorized irrespective of whether the action is intentional or accidental. This can lead to serious consequences such as huge fines and potential litigation if there is harm. Another case of negligence at the front desk is improper charging. There are cases when the front desk staff do not understand the billing system or knowingly overcharge guests for services provided. This can lead to a frustrated guest resulting in loss of customers. The front desk staff can also neglect tasks. For instance, a guest can request the staff to provide a wake-up call at the specific time, and the front desk agent forgets. Another of potential negligence is the provision of faulty advice to guests. For instance, the front desk staff tells a guest over the phone that there is space at a hotel only to come and find that it is fully booked. There is situation the front-desk staff does not properly take care of guest stuff and this result to negligence. For instance, a guest might leave their luggage at the front desk only for it to be misplaced.
The front desk collects a lot of sensitive information such as guest names, home, and email address, credit card information, and also sensitive information of employees. In case there is the breach of confidential information at the front desk, it would expose the organization to litigation, damage to reputation and regulatory scrutiny. Ligation can be from breach of victims and compromise if credit card information.
The front desk has legal duties in the reduction of risks of liability for the guests and employees. The best solution is to ensure that mistakes are prevented before they happen. There is a need for appropriate education of front desk staff on the various laws, ensure the policy manure is up to date and that there is compliance. Making privacy is a priority a never-ending task. This means there is the need for follow-up and reassessment to ensure that corrections and appropriate changes are ongoing, effective and continuously improved. The front desk needs to be compliant with HIPAA, the privacy breach laws in the area and payment card industry security standards among others. Despite actions to prevent a risk of liability for guests and employees, it is important to have a ready-to-use incident response plan.
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