The personal touch vs the smart touch – are you getting the balance right?
More and more of our interactions, both personal and commercial, are being catered for by technological platforms driven by convenience, speed and low cost. More often than not we adopt them without thinking. They’re usually meant to save time and make things ‘easier’. And that’s got to be good for our business, right? Well, sometimes.
Take the obvious example of automated phone enquiry handling systems. When they work well, they work well. However, everyone has a story to tell about being trapped in an automated labyrinthine nightmare that causes nothing but frustration. These sorts of bad experiences really hurt your brand and your business – they’re a coalface type blow that can really leave a scar.
Any interaction where a customer has actively approached your organisation, seeking some sort of resolution to an enquiry is one that needs to be handled carefully and with total empathy.
So anytime you’re examining the processes you’ve put in place to do business, ask yourself these questions:
How does it impact on the way our customers do business with us?
If it saves the company money, which finds its way to a price reduction for customers, but if customers are primarily doing business with you because of your, warm, personal service then maybe the benefit is a false one.
What’s the age group of our core customers and how are they comfortable doing business?
If your prime customer target is an older age group who prefer to deal with a ‘real’ person at all stages of a transaction, then again you need to seriously consider the impact of implementing any technological processes that erode the expectations and desires of your key customer group.
What’s the nature of our service and product and is it best served by a more personal focus?
Is a more personalised focus a point of difference that we can build some brand strength around?
There’s an inevitability about the evolving nature of progress and its impact on business. What’s important is managing change by keeping a close eye on its impact on your customers and their expectations.