See my Thanksgiving post series today, tomorrow and Thanksgiving Day… Humans have become adept at automating everything, and we’re rapidly replacing human effort with mechanization and/or computerization. We have found a way to automate more and more tasks in our factories, schools, medicine, even communication! While this is often a good thing, we’re also coming to terms with the fact that we can’t (and shouldn’t) automate every aspect of our lives. Some of us have found out the hard way that just because you can automate a process, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. And that’s especially true of human interaction. I’m feeling particularly thankful that business seems to be finally taking a closer look at the value of building relationships and their critical importance.
There is a struggle going on between automation and human interaction. Sustaining and growing any business (for profit, and especially non-profit) depends on human interaction. How you connect, collaborate, generate trust, create loyalty, keep promises and earn Return on Relationship is totally dependent on human-to-human interaction, and always will be.
I think this lesson has been brought home on the social media front, especially. Companies are finding out that yes, you can automate a lot of what you do on social platforms, but the critical element of engagement and interaction should never be automated.
For those of you who use social scheduling software, this is particularly important. In fact, Hootsuite, came out with an article on The DOs and DON’Ts of Social Media Automation, and I highly recommend you give it a read.
You can find software to help you shorten just about any social process today. You can use it to help you find and reach out to prospects online that match your business criteria, create helpful content, curate other people’s content and schedule it. It can help you analyze your data, look for conversations, find the best times to post, etc.
But companies are finding out that automating replies, direct messages and other communications that should be one-on-one interactions just doesn’t work. People need to connect as individuals and shun the kind of automation that short-circuits that connection. While ATMs at the bank and in the store are a great timesaver, it’s really nice to connect with a human being when you have a question. We also prefer to speak to a warm body over the phone—not an endless list of voice recordings for every scenario. We want our social connections to be human too, and we want to converse with them in real time. It’s comforting and life-affirming, like the family gathering at the Thanksgiving table, and brands are re-learning the importance of it.
I think one of the biggest indicators of a trend back to individualized connection is that customer experience is finally taking a front seat in business again. For instance, I just did a search on “Customer Experience Manager” in LinkedIn, and came back with 223,142 results! Companies like Amazon, Audi and Dish Network top the list.
In fact, here’s an excerpt from an Audi Customer Experience Manager role responsibilities:
Strategy / Communication / Drive Customer-Centric Culture
- Develop and maintain a Regional Customer experience roadmap, ensuring Customer delight is core part of annual Regional Plans
- Champion of a Customer-Centric Culture
- Deliver value to Dealers in their Customer experience improvement efforts
I especially like the fact that “Customer delight” is a core part of their roadmap. Nice! Companies are finally starting to catch on and move their cultures in this direction.
It’s really good to see that the family is finally gathering at the table again. Please pass the gravy!