Does technology remove the human element from relocations services?
Tech dependency is growing
In the Global Mobility and Relocation industries every hiring story is different; however one common theme is the need for human support on the part of the relocating assignee. The client company is expecting personal customer service for their employees when they need it most, adjusting to a new location, home and lifestyle. Delivering this service falls to Global Mobility and Relocations Professionals; at a time when reliance on technology is booming within these sectors Alchemy has asked the question: ‘Does technology remove the human element from relocations services?’
Who better to answer this question than Tim Wells (VP Technology Solutions, London); Tim’s broad background covers a career in Global Mobility consultancy and in-house experience as well as technology focused knowledge gained from joining Equus Software, a provider of software for the Mobility industry. We asked Tim for his candid opinion about whether he feels Relocations technology is detracting from the empathy and human side of Relocations and he was kind enough to respond with the following:
“I think it actually has had the opposite result. Our clients find that, as a consequence of process automation and the significant efficiencies the technology brings to their programmes, their mobility advisors have more time to counsel their expats and provide a higher-touch service. This in turn increases employee engagement and improves the employee experience.” Current technology may not give the warmth of a helping hand, but Tim affirms what technology can provide: the precious commodity of time, of which humanity can never have enough.
Harry Dayton (President, Servicengine Corporation, NYC) has been part of the team producing Enterprise Software for Employee Mobility since the nineties, and as such is uniquely qualified to offer up his thoughts on this subject. Harry told Alchemy “There will always be a consultative aspect and a need for human interaction but technology has assumed responsibility for many aspects of the process, beginning with the lower value-add functions. Data gathering, process monitoring and communications have all been transformed by automation.”
Harry does not view technology as a replacement for people skills, but rather as an enhancement. Building on Tim’s crucial notion of tech as a time saver, Harry expresses that humanity is more vital to certain areas of service than others – this is a key concept. Why not let software collect data? In the meantime people can utilise human strengths like creativity and adaptability to get the wider job done in their own unique style. Letting technology take on distinct specialisms and service aspects may provide the opportunity to improve the empathic ‘human facets’ of Relocation Services.
So technology developments are intended to compliment humanity instead of looking for opportunities to supersede; this idea is common amongst those professionals driving the development of technology within the Relocations and Global Mobility sectors today. Another individual embracing this perspective is Aires’ Richard Hooker (Director of Operations EMEA and APAC, London). Richard’s opinion is based upon his lengthily professional tenure within the Mobility and Relocations industries along with his experience of Aires’ proprietary technology products.
Alchemy asked Richard for his perspective on whether the ongoing intertwinement between technology and relocations services is a good thing? Richard told us “While there is always the risk of removing the human element and empathy from the Relocation process.... We never want to remove the human element. In fact, many of our tools are designed to ensure high-contact service delivery, rather than push a self-service approach.” In his response, Richard has highlighted a vital ideal of technology provision: successful products will be harmonious with human needs.
Alchemy has gone through our fair share of challenges to bring the finest talent to new shores. From Manchester to Moscow, Massachusetts and Mongolia, we have seen it all! In the pursuit of finding the best person for the job over broad geographic ranges, we have continued utilising a broad range of methods from traditional telephone calls to top-of-the-line tech. It is clear to us that we cannot hide behind our computer screens and must endeavour to make human contact, however on balance technology is much more of a help than a hindrance in providing quality customer service.
Technology is a tool. When discussing the topic of whether technology removes the human element from Relocations Services, we must not lose sight of the fact that industry tech products have been developed by people for people. Specialists like Tim, Harry and Richard are putting emphasis on crafting software that works with us and for us, not against us. They view technology as operating in partnership with high touch human services to boost instead of reducing quality – and Alchemy is firmly in agreement with this practice. Automation does not always equal service degradation.
Written by Katie Smith - Assoc CIPD, BA Hons, HR Advisor at Alchemy Recruitment Ltd