One of the greatest things about technology is that it can make us more efficient, allow us to automate interactions, be on every corner and remain open twenty-four hours a day without the need for a human attendant.
And, it can wall us off from our customers and prevent us for building the kinds of relationships that help us get better at what we do, help us understand the true needs of our customers and help us build the kind of community that can sustain us through any ill wind.
When we get so good at delivering our customer interactions, devoid of any human interaction, we start to build the same kinds of relationship we might have with a vending machine.
Sure, it gets the job done, delivers as promised, is efficient and maybe even convenient, but does it know us, like us, trust us?
Over reliance on technology is a trap that’s easily set these days and one that can quickly put you out of touch with a market and certainly out of touch with the real reason for doing any of this – to serve a higher human purpose.
Below are five practices that can help keep you out of the vending machine trap.
Get out of the office
This one’s pretty obvious, but how many times do you go through an entire day without talking to anyone? Make an effort to get out and go talk to your customers, schedule a lunch a week with a potential strategic partner, mentor someone just getting started in business or conduct interviews with others in your industry.
This one is powerful on many levels. Get in the habit of making introductions and referrals. Support your customers, partners and suppliers through this habit and you’ll find some of richest personal interactions you can ever enjoy in business.
Create peer-2-peer interaction
Chances are your customers share some of the same challenges, wins and needs. Consider putting together quarterly forums where your customers can get together and share best practices, industry trends, unmet needs and success stories. You’ll quickly find that they crave this kind of interaction with peers and you’ll have your finger on the pulse of exactly what’s going on right now.
Conduct results reviews
One of the best reasons to reach out to customers is to ensure they actually got the results you promised. In many cases, they did, but this is great way to reinforce just what a great job you did. In some cases, something may have slipped, they may not have understood how to get a result or they just didn’t do what you told them to do. No matter what, this is a great way to find and fix a problem.
Results reviews are also a great way for you to better understand the value of what you deliver and can be a great way to document the tangible proof that gives you the confidence to raise your prices.
No reason at all
Write five handwritten notes a week. Jump on LinkedIn and say hi for no reason. Call five clients today just to make sure everything is well in their world. You don’t always need to be closing. Sometimes just thinking about someone and telling them so is the most human thing of all.