Technology is advancing so quickly, you may have occasionally joked in a semi-serious way that it won’t be long before computers and robots will be able to take over your entire company.
Not so fast, warns author John Naisbitt.
In his book “High Tech High Touch: Technology and Our Search for Meaning,” Naisbitt explains that people still long for personal and human contact. He warns that our devices put us into a “technologically intoxicated zone” that can overwhelm us with electronic stimuli instead of the human interaction we all need. On both personal and professional levels, this will lead to no good.
Here’s some great news: you don’t have to go back to manual typewriters and rotary phones in your business. You can still embrace technology and use it to your company’s advantage, while still communicating with and relating to your customers. Here’s how:
Don’t Rely on “Faceless” Forms of Communication
Yes, technology like email, live chat and texting are all effective communication tools, but they should not completely replace phone calls and in-person meetings with your customers or clients. If you cannot meet a new vendor in person, opt for a video chat instead of back-and-forth email chains. If a customer emails in a question, pick up the phone and call her. In terms of building relationships with people, email or text will never replace a friendly voice on the phone and a face-to-face meeting.
Inject Yourself into Your Brand
Don’t let technology erase the human side of your business. Because of technology, many industries that once required constant customer/seller connection (such as real estate, direct sales and even education) have a decreased need for face-to-face time. But losing this opportunity to build rapport can be bad for business, and when trouble arises, can lose you customers. For example, when the direct sales model was under scrutiny, many asked if Amway is a pyramid scheme, since the company is a world-wide leader in multi-level marketing. In order to show consumers how the organization operates and benefits its Independent Business Owners, Amway started a ‘Real People, Real Stories’ campaign that features the people who join Amway. Doing so helped inject a human element into the business, giving it the legitimacy it needed.
Use Technology to Handle the Mundane
Another great way to be high touch in a high tech world is to use technology to take care of the tedious tasks that take place out of the sight of customers. Invest in a program that will automatically print your invoices and try an inventory management app like Sortly that will send you alerts when your stock is low. By letting technology handle these time consuming and often boring tasks, you should have more time to devote to your customers. You will be able to stand there and chat with your new client about his son’s soccer team and give him that much-needed human interaction, all while knowing other important tasks are being handled by technology.
Nothing Will Ever Replace Good Old-Fashioned Interaction
Technology is amazing and useful and can help a company get ahead in many ways. But it will never replace the personal interaction of a real person. By not relying on faceless communication tools, sharing stories with your customers on your website and social media, and focusing on finding tech that will help with tasks and not people, you will achieve Naisbitt’s hope of being a business that is both high tech and high touch.