Have you noticed how a simple phone call can clear up an issue that’s being discussed endlessly over e-mail? Trying to nail down specifics can take days as each party quickly glances over each message and responds with additional questions to determine what the sender really meant to say. Finally when someone actually picks up the phone and asks, “What did you really mean to say?” a complex situation suddenly becomes simple and often each person on the line experiences a mild sense of elation from the real human interaction.
In today’s world, our focus for most of the day is on a screen, not necessarily on people. We’re not as dialed up to actually speak to each other as much as we used to be, but that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Karen Yeates, Signature Travel Network’s EVP of information technologies, said in my interview with her for this month’s cover story that many of Signature’s advisors are having their time freed up by Client Reach, a CRM program that sends electronic prompts to communicate with a customer on issues relating to their upcoming trips. As a result, some of these advisors are using that newly found time to actually converse with the client to record even richer information about what they want to achieve on their vacations.
Simple enough, but what a good lesson. Automation shouldn’t be used to deal less with our human counterparts. The benefits reaped from technology should instead be invested in spending more quality time with each other.
When We’re All VIPs
It’s hard to find joy in traveling through airports these days but being randomly selected for TSA Precheck makes my heart sing. Shoes, sweaters and coats, it all stays on and my laptop stays snug in my carry-on. I was on a TSA Precheck line recently that was held up by a bag that was being double-checked and triple-checked and then causing intense concern for security officials. As we all stood and watched, folks on the regular security line were whisking past us and getting cleared quickly because the airport wasn’t that busy at this time of day.
Finally, a security officer suggested that we could go on the regular line if we wanted to.
“Taking off your shoes isn’t that big of a deal,” he joked.
None of us moved. I knew what we were all thinking. We had earned this special status somehow and we didn’t want to give it up, even though it frankly wasn’t doing us any good at the moment. One guy said he would go to the regular line but then stopped cold. He was kind of chubby and I think he realized taking off his shoes would actually be a pain. Amongst the rest of us the inner conflict was palpable, but still we dug in our heels and stayed as our privileged line remained stalled.
Suddenly, I freaked out from the realization that my valuable time was being stolen from me (that’s my number-one pet peeve) and I ran over to the regular line, ripped off my shoes and threw my laptop into a separate bin, following the instructions the security officer was barking at me. When I got through to the other side I was in a cold sweat as I headed to my gate.
I swallowed hard as I faced my next quandary, getting an upgrade to business class. I was third on the airport list and had a 50-50 chance of being bumped up. I’d flown business on my inbound flight and just couldn’t stand the thought of being in coach.
It’s just like they say: Once you have a privilege, you can’t go back.