Friday, July 3, 2015

High Tech or High Touch?

By Steven M. Worth, President at Plexus Consulting Group, LLC

This news lead caught my attention:
“Supermarket giant Kroger Co. (KR) is winning the war against lengthy checkout lines with a powerful weapon: infrared cameras long used by the military and law-enforcement to track people.”

Aren’t those association managers of membership organizations who feel they are offering their members something special by eschewing technology in favor of more personal human interaction gambling that a personal touch will outweigh a member’s consideration of cost and time as factors that they value most? As much as I value (sometimes) talking with a human being, when it comes to service, I much prefer not waiting in line or being put on hold before being able to get the product or service I want. Don’t most people feel the same?

Although the upfront costs of technology may be high, these costs are or should be paid for by the first or second year through the savings in efficiency that they generate. So while the human touch may have its charming side, managers would do well to recognize this approach is silently siphoning off capital your organization could be using to create the new products and services you need to maintain your organization’s relevancy and competitiveness in an increasingly competitive landscape.

I like the military reference of this news headline—because it seems to me a manager’s role in part is to wage war against organizational inefficiency and ineffectiveness. Will Kroger’s approach work?—maybe, maybe not but their managers deserve credit for their creative and right-thinking approach in seeking to provide better service.

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