“Whatever business you’re in, you’re in the people business.”
It’s not exactly the most original of business coach phrases but it just might be the most useful.
At a time when we adopt technical solutions to automate accounting and newsletter delivery and market segmentation, is it possible that we could try to automate the very processes and relationships that make business human?
Sure, it might be fashionable to have chatbots run your customer service channels but they’re probably making your business seem stale and robotic. Yes, having one of those phone menu things on your customer services phine line seems like a time saver but it doesn’t exactly make your customers love you.
We all know how hard that Google and Tencent and Waverly Labs are pushing their speech translatiion devices but if we’re happy for our high risk, face-to-face communication to be mediated by technology, aren’t we just admitting that we don’t value the person we’re speaking to?
Some tasks are repetitive and procedural and can be automated with no client or customer ever noticing the difference. But when it comes to meeting face-to-face and showing that you care and you want to understand the key issues your clients are dealing with, there’s no app in the world that can replace being personally present and working with real-life humans.
Since we’re all in the people business, we need to keep people at the front of our work. When you next meet someone face-to-face, silence the smartphones, kill the apps and meet: person to person.