How “Human” is Your Customer/Client “Experience?”
4 Tips to Recapturing Some of the Good Ol’ Days
The mother of a 13-year-old told me a very interesting story. After she encouraged him to do so, her son wrote a thank-you card to his grandmother in response to a recent gift he’d received … he wrote it with pen and paper in text language!
“Tx grnma 4 the awesome new fone. Mus’ve cost u alotta $$. U rock!”
According to Nielsen*, “During the second quarter of 2008, a typical U.S. mobile subscriber placed or received 204 phone calls each month. In comparison, the average mobile customer sent or received 357 text messages per month.”
Did you know that we experience 1/20th the number of human interactions today, as compared to just 20 years ago? Put another way, Baby Boomers grew up with 20 times more human interactions than Generation Y (approximate current ages 9 to 29).
While this is certainly startling, it’s also clear as to why it’s so true. Often, when I hear a Baby Boomer say, “These kids today!” what I’m hearing is a frustration around a “disconnect” that they’re feeling.
How is it possible that we only have a twentieth of what we had just 20 years ago, with regard to human interaction? Today’s rapidly changing technology is partly to blame. Here are a just a few of the contributing factors:
Video games, text messaging, e-mail, pay-at-the-pump, self-checkout, online shopping, online banking, iPods, computerized self-help kiosks, vehicles that include DVD players with headsets, automated telephone response systems, movie-vending machines, fully automated car washes … need I go on?
Those warm, fuzzy feelings that we only get from interacting with each other are one of the things that make us human. While we may not realize it because we’re used to life as it is, people not-too-secretly crave the interaction we used to have. I feel it’s important that we don’t lose sight of, or underestimate, the power of our interpersonal relations.
Armed with this important information, here are 4 questions to ask yourself as you begin your quest to recapture some of the good ol’ days:
1. What Makes Me Different From the Others?
What makes you and/or your company more human than all the rest? How often do you give your name and use the names of others, in verbal and written communications, both outside and inside your organization. People like hearing their name! Have you adopted more technology than is best for the company and its relationships with others? Have you found yourself texting with someone … in the same building? How do people regard you/your company? After all, people like to do business with people they like … not machines.
2. What Can I Be Doing to Make the Experience More Human?
Ask yourself and your staff the above question. As a team-builder and facilitator, I’ve posed this question to many teams and have been impressed with the results. Once, though, a 20-year-old employee was convinced that putting a video on the company’s website was THE answer. He was certainly on the right track — a video (showing people) is more human than text on a screen — but his suggestion was in essence a step back because his job put him face-to-face with clients on a daily basis. When coached to think further, these teams came up with a few “human interaction” ideas that were nothing short of stellar.
I can facilitate brainstorming sessions with your people, to create systems and strategies to make your process more human. When facilitated properly, you will be amazed at how the ideas flow. Remember: Your people will support what they help to create.
3. Am I Using My Keyboard More Than My Telephone?
This is something to strongly consider. Because words only account for 7% of communication**, much can get lost over e-mail interactions … and does! When given the choice, choose your telephone. Coupling your words with your voice tone (emotion) will make the experience far more human than words on a screen. You might be thinking, “But Steve, sometimes it’s just so much more convenient – often for both parties – to text or use e-mail.” I agree – I’m just asking you to take a closer look at how often you send e-mails or texts before even considering picking up the phone.
4. Am I Putting Myself Out There?
With today’s technological advances, it’s way too easy to seclude yourself. A recent study reported that most teens, given the choice, would rather handle a confrontational, challenging or stressful conversation by text messaging, rather than addressing it face-to-face. This begs the question: How are these kids going to handle real life social situations down the road?
Take every opportunity to surround yourself with others. Meeting new people will keep your social skills sharp. Leave your office door open whenever possible • Accept invitations to gatherings (always say “yes” then check your calendar later) • Use the telephone, especially when something could possibly get “lost in translation” over e-mail • Schedule coffee and lunch meetings to stay in touch with people inside your network and those you’d like to know better • Choose face to face interaction, and you’ll enrich your life and the lives of others.
“Analytical software enables you to shift human resources from rote data collection to value-added customer service and support where the human touch makes a profound difference.” -Bill Gates