The Emotional Supply Chain – a tale of three businesses.

Having written about emotional supply chains earlier, a good example fell into my lap this week.

I took an opportunity to spend a few days in Puglia, which involved three companies; an airline, a letting agency, and a car hire company. Turned out to be three very different experiences.

In chronological order, the letting agency. The have a developed an outstanding app, which let me choose somewhere, check availability, talk directly to the owner, and book. A great combination of automated efficiency and human contact. It extended to arrival and departure, being looked after by a local contact. (A high five to home and away)

The airline, a currently strike prone national carrier, was heavy on automation, but it worked well. Very few humans, but easy check in, bag drop and a good flight.

The care hire company, a major international chain, was neither of the above. Cumbersome booking and opaque pricing on a very average web page, but where it got interesting was on arrival. It took as long in the queue to collect the car as it took to fly from the UK. Staff were harassed, no eye contact, and a frustrating experience given that the admin can hardly be much more complex than for the airline. In this case the humans were a real downside. I was longing for an app.

Overall, I came away with a feeling of trust and connection to the letting agency, neutral abut the airline (efficient, but the prospect of unexpected strike action negated the human side) and a real dislike of the car hire company, who I am unlikely to use again. Which is a shame, because if the got the human part of it half right, the rest worked well.

As we increasingly automate what we can, the human aspect will come to the fore. Size and scale will only really affect the logical supply chain, and I suspect it has an inverse effect on the emotional one.

It’s happening now.

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