Yapping with… Steven Pike


Yapping with… Steven Pike

Steven Pike

“Our clients are at the forefront of what we do. When they move, we move too”.

Since announcing our partnership with HGEM last year, and in light of the glowing success of their innovative Guest Experience Management platform The Hub, we wanted to catch up with Steven Pike, Managing Director of HGEM, to find out a little more about the company’s highs of 2019 and hopes for 2020.

Steven has been HGEM’s Managing Director since 2008 where, as well as working with well-known hospitality brands to help them grow, he has led the development of a modern suite of software products. Prior to that, he ran a change management consultancy and worked closely with Kallidus where he implemented and troubleshooted learning management solutions for high profile clients across multiple sectors.

HGEM have been innovating in hospitality since 2003 and now works internationally with operators of over 10,000 restaurants, pubs, hotels, and caterers. Customers include well-known high street brands such as Pret A Manger, Wagamama, Star Pubs & Bars and BrewDog. They help businesses by providing them with data about their guests’ experiences. This information can then be utilised to influence future visits, and improve the quality and consistency of service. In short, HGEM’s mission is to put Guest Experience Management at the heart of hospitality brands.

In 2019, HGEM were at the receiving end of two highly impressive awards. They won Employer of the Year at the Bath Business Awards, and Technology Product of the Year at Restaurant & Bar Tech Live. ‘We’re delighted with our wins,’ says Steven, ‘and we’re very proud of The Hub, and also of our clients.’ The Hub, a cross-functional platform that blends guest experience results from multiple sources, provides users with the insight to take proactive control over the wellbeing of their staff, driving reputation, sales and standards. This makes it easier for managers to identify actions for team development and sales growth.

As Steven notes, The Hub is a “centre-stage product that offers users something tangible and, when utilised, can make real-world difference”. It pulls together information from different sources that are relevant to the guest experience - think subjective data from surveys, reputation data from reviews, operational data from assessments - to help operators monitor their performance and generate a culture of continuous improvement for teams.

While it’s important to take action, Steven maintains that “this is not always achieved through tech. It’s also achieved through people.” That’s why a service layer is added onto the product in the form of an account manager. “We want to be proactive, and if this means doing a little hand holding, we’ll do it”.

Increasingly, HGEM are holding hands with other tech companies, too. They’re firm in the fact that they “don’t operate in isolation. It’s all about looking for what the client is trying to achieve and making sure we’re in a position to be able to offer them that”. After all, influencing the guest experience isn’t something that happens by accident. In an industry with traditionally high labour turnover and venues living or dying by their review scores, people and teams need to be nurtured and supported effectively to deliver a product that the customer can rave about. And it’s this which sparked the partnership between HGEM and Yapster.

As Steven explained, “we recognised the value of Yapster to make more of the internal communication opportunities that already exist for our clients by tapping into the insights that team members can provide.” HGEM spent 2019 integrating with several tech products and building APIs for them to link into. All of these integrations were driven by their clients as “they are at the forefront of what we do, so, when they move, we move too.”

“Since partnering with Yapster, the user journey feels seamless,” says Steven. “The gap between guest and employee has narrowed, and it is now easier to identify correlations between the sentiment from each audience, and to identify actions that make a difference.”

As an integral part of a much wider tech ecosystem, HGEM’s potential is unprecedented. As they move into 2020 Steven explains that HGEM are keen to get themselves out there and be seen more. “We’re confident that we’ve got something unique in the marketplace that can actually help clients manage their guest experience.” HGEM have no plans to slow down. They’ve been quietly innovating, supporting and shaping further developments with their clients. They’re ready to do something bigger, something bolder and - more importantly - something to keep talking about.

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