These days we rely on our mobile devices for everything. They tell us what to expect on the road, they help us keep track of our lives, and increasingly we use them to transact business.
But while many brands are seeing an increase in mobile transactions they are also seeing a phenomenon known as “showrooming” in which a person will visit a store to see the object in person before buying online (sometimes at a different outlet). Part of the experience often involves working with a salesperson who will discuss the product and its features. This occurs everywhere from Costco to Cartier but is more prevalent at the luxury level.
Similar things are happening in the world of online connections whether they are romantic or business-related. We live in a world of Tinder and Grindr in which we can, from our mobile phones, swipe our way to attraction and make a personal connection in minutes. One would think that this would put traditional matchmakers and established dating websites such as Match.com and eHarmony.com out of business. Instead, eHarmony is taking an interesting new approach, rolling out a site called EHPlus.com which combines technology with the services of a real human matchmaker who will work with you and hand select matches.
The service, which costs $5,000 for one year, offers another selling point, it is designed to be a primarily an offline service. Instead of logging in, sending emails back and forth, updating your profile and visiting endless potential matches, your matchmaker handles all that. The matchmaker is essentially a dating concierge and personal coach rolled into one. You are paying not just for the romantic connections, but for the personal touch.
We are seeing this in other personal and business services as well. In the financial services sector there are plenty of ways to manage your money from mobile apps like Mint to trading sites including eTrade. Some trendspotters thought that the plethora of do-it-yourself services might doom the financial planning industry.
But many people of all ages still would prefer to talk to a person.
Sophia Bera, the entrepreneur behind Gen Y Financial Planning, offers both a quick start service as well as a subscription model that offers personal guidance for millennials getting their financial footing. In real estate as well, people use apps and websites to search for homes but they still want a real estate agent as their advisor through the transaction process.
Similarly, in the employment world, people take advantage of the many job search sites but also often take advantage of job coaches and recruitment specialists.
Most of us still want validation and advice on the most important choices we make. Technology is an incredible tool but it does not replace the human connection. Sometimes we don’t want that human element, but when we are spending a lot of money, increasingly we are willing to pay a little extra for personal guidance.
In our big decisions in life, from choosing a partner, to determining where we want to live, and how we manage our finances, we still want to talk with a professional. The combination of technology and the personal approach is what will drive the path of both luxury brands and the higher end service industries going forward.