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Technology is not Always the Answer

Our industry has had its share of buzz words and trends that grab the spotlight and dominate the conversations about mobility each year. Some of my all-time favorites include the historical “Single Point of Contact,” “Big Data” and most recently, the industry’s strategic pseudonym, “Talent Mobility.” These days, the topic at hand is “customer experience.”

At every conference I have recently attended, the buzz words “customer experience” have echoed across the stage. As we all know, “Customer Experience” is the key factor that differentiates a successful move from a disaster. Strategically, the industry has focused on key strategies and services for driving customer experience including flexible policies, pre-decision services, spousal support, cultural and language training and Employee Assistance Programs, among others, to help create a better relocation experience. In some instances, the practice of engaging expats during the assignment to help manage their expectations, experiences and start the repatriation process early is starting to take shape at some of the leading companies.

Unfortunately, as technology and innovation continue to drive every business sector on the planet, I am also beginning to see a trend that some companies (both suppliers and corporations) now associate great customer service with “technology systems.” The perception that great customer service is now dictated by how quickly someone gets a response or the extent of “personalization” from a technology system is starting to dilute the real key ingredient in our service industry – empathy and care.

Yes, we all love self-service. It’s great to use your phone to pay for practically everything today. Online banking is awesome. Nobody thinks twice about making your own travel reservations online. The Self-Service lanes at grocery Rickstores are great, especially if you remember being a kid, sitting in the shopping cart and thinking how cool it would be to scan everything. Oh, wait a minute, when I was a kid, there were no scanners. Either way, the conveyer belt was cool. I can’t say the same for my terry cloth shorts and shirt with the stripe that completed the “look.” But, I couldn’t wear my “Fonzie” shirt every day either.

In the relocation industry, technology plays a great role. It gives us more efficiencies, data and knowledge than ever before. It helps supplier partners manage a global supply chain. It gives corporate mobility professionals the data to make strategic decisions. And, it helps our assignees and transferees quickly complete expense reports, check the status of their household goods shipment, facetime their families and reach their Consultant at the touch of a button. Oh, wait a minute, that’s right…reach someone quickly. Because in our industry, the need for support, engagement, empathy and care will never be replaced by a system.

Leave technology to take care of the numbers. Let technology unite all the data and be the strategic management tool it was meant to be. Because ultimately, it’s the account service teams from RMCs through global supply chain partners who make the true difference in driving the “customer experience.”

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MIKE CANNING
VP, Client Services

RICK CALANNI
VP of Business Development Northeast Region

 

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