Technology is everywhere. From emails to smart phones to social media and everything wireless, we have become a society fixated on the newest and best technology.
Think you’re immune? Have you ever left your home or office without your smartphone and immediately returned to pick it up? Most people would say, “Yes.” Could you get through an entire evening without checking your work emails on your smartphone or tablet? Most people would say, “No.”
Many people would be surprised to discover that the technological advancements of recent decades are quite similar to the effects of the Industrial Revolution in the eighteenth century. Both movements accelerated the displacement of workers by machines that could perform tasks faster and more accurately.
However, there is a major difference. In earlier generations you could leave the office at five o’clock and not have to think about work again until the next morning. You weren’t expected to take phone calls or respond to requests if you were sick or on vacation. Today, thanks to email and smartphones, the length of the average workday along with your accessibility has dramatically increased.
Connecting vs. Communicating
While there’s no question that technology has radically altered the manner in which companies are doing business, the price of this progress is not without its downside. Sadly, as businesses are expanding, they are becoming more and more dependent upon technological and automated services, throwing the human side of customer service out the window.
It’s as if corporate America has developed a severe case of amnesia, forgetting that our clients butter our bread. We inappropriately thank them by automating our services instead of providing the indispensable human element that is so necessary for building and maintaining strong business relationships.
However, some companies are quickly catching on. According to New York job placement expert Carla Gigante, owner of The Gigante Agency, “An overwhelming majority of companies say ‘soft skills’ and the ‘human touch’ in customer service are just as important and in many cases more important than technical skills. Many are actually hiring people skills over technical skills. Why? People skills are a talent that is more inborn than learned. Therefore, it’s much more difficult to train.”
Technology is a powerful tool for generating massive amounts of information, yet without trained people who know how to utilize and communicate that data effectively, the value is significantly reduced if not completely worthless.
Technology has enabled users to interact with clients and coworkers on the other side of the globe. However, it has also diminished some of the trust and rapport that previously evolved from face-to-face meetings and phone conversations. Perhaps you’ve observed this in your own office space. Workers are more often inclined to chat electronically rather than physically walking over to the next cubicle and speaking with someone.
The issue is that weÕre spending too much time maintaining superficial online connections without dedicating enough time or effort for cultivating real-life business and personal relationships. Did you ever think we’d live in an age where people could window shop for their soulmates utilizing online dating services? This technology allows people to make snap judgments and decisions based exclusively upon a picture and a profile.
While we may have hundreds of LinkedIn connections, many are people we would have never met otherwise. Although we can share many new concepts or ideas with these contacts, do they really provide the kind of human interaction that is so essential for our business growth or emotional health?
If we are constantly checking in with our “virtual worlds,” little time is left for our “real-world” relationships. Too much chatter…too little real conversation. There is a huge difference between connecting and communicating.
Technology to Enhance Client Services
Now, before you think that we don’t appreciate the technological revolution, let me state that we wholeheartedly embrace it. We value the objectives it has allowed our company to achieve and the growth it has helped us realize in the last twenty years.
In fact, we are in the process of launching the first part of our new enterprise platform. This is our largest technological effort to date, and it will include our new client portal and mobile application. Throughout each step of its development, we have asked the question–how will this affect our clients, partner companies, and employees? In having these discussions, weÕve acknowledged that efficiency in the process canÕt replace steadfast person-to-person interaction.
All of us at Security Resources want to assure our clients that no matter how much technology we have, we will never lose sight of the fact that we are in the “people business.” You will always be able to reach our live, accountable personnel–day or night. Everything we are developing has been designed with the goal of providing outstanding client service with an emphasis on providing the essential human touch.
We are also determined to drive our client-centric model throughout every level of our company. To illustrate our commitment, we have recently added a corporate client services trainer as a core member of our client satisfaction team. In addition to all our regular, ongoing job training, everyone from field supervisors to the CEO level is participating in weekly client services training. Our topics range from writing professional emails and telephone etiquette to developing assertive and effective communication skills.
Moving from Good to Great
We are on a mission to take everything that is good about Security Resources and make it great by providing outstanding client services. To guarantee we get there, we have created a Client Relations Department, and our client relations director now serves as part of the executive management team. Together, we are responsible for all aspects of our client satisfaction and quality assurance.
Our ultimate goal is to provide expectation-shattering service in every client interaction. We know we can only achieve this objective by keeping our focus on the human element. After all, it’s the people that actually get things done.
Security Resources is in the people business, providing security guard services for our clients. We recognize that our clients, partner companies, and suppliers are people too. We don’t just do business with XYZ Company; we do business with Maria, Tom, or Ed working at XYZ Company.
We appreciate that change and technology are here to stay, and our company is excited about it. However, technology will never replace our commitment to serve our clients with the highest levels of personalized integrity that they so rightly deserve.
Love the technology…don’t forget the people.
About the Author
Joseph Malone is Chief Executive Officer for Security Resources, a national security firm providing security guard and investigative services based in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.