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Will we eventually lose human touch?

I stayed at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago a few years back whilst attending International Telecoms Week. On my last evening, upon having dinner in the hotel restaurant I was approached by a gentleman who asked me how my meal and stay was going. During the conversation, I learned that he was the Director of the Catering unit there, he took a genuine interest in our conversation about true customer service and knowing your customers by name. At the end of our discussion, he kindly offered me a complimentary breakfast for the next day, passing over a business card with his details.

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At 6 am the next morning, before setting off to the airport to catch my flight, I headed over to the restaurant for breakfast. I passed over the card and informed the server behind the counter that I had a complimentary breakfast, courtesy of the director.

“Ah, Mr Cartwright! We’ve been expecting you.” I was surprised and amazed that the server was aware that I would be arriving, and he knew my name. It was a customer experience that is so very rare, to say the least.

You might be wondering why I’m telling you this and why it was a notable experience. It got me thinking, when was the last time you received customer experience like that, without having to pay a luxury price? Treating your customers with courtesy and by name.

Technological advancements are taking over, and although they’ve brought us several positives, there’s a question mark as to whether they’ll eventually make us lose human touch altogether. We’re already halfway there, with automated switchboard operators, automated cashiers, restaurants where meals are ordered through touchscreens and driverless cars. The convenience is no doubt excellent, but not everyone wants this kind of experience, some people want personal human interaction; they want to speak to the waiter at a restaurant, or the driver of their taxi.

Technology has enabled companies to carry out business with people they’ve never met before, all across the globe using emails, text messaging and video conferences. It’s also helped with reducing the cost of customer service, but sometimes this comes with the risk of damaging customer loyalty. Lack of face-to-face communication can lead to the perception of an impersonal and uncaring company. Being so time poor, we choose to opt for emails as a quick fix rather than picking up the phone to customers, without realising that this means of communication doesn’t allow for a friendly, personal touch and the opportunity to build a strong relationship.

How can you expect the loyalty of your customers when they’ve only seen your photo from your LinkedIn profile and in some cases, not even heard your voice? In their mind, they’ve already built an image of you, from that alone, and as great as social media tools can be for business, there are just as many negatives.

As we continue to advance in the digital world, it’s important to keep up to remain competitive, but not to the detriment of relationship and interaction with people. Relationships still matter and always will, whether that’s in personal or professional life.

Edmund Cartwright,
Sales and Marketing Director, Highlight