Walking to my office I passed four people in the hall and promptly greeted them. Two looked up and replied back and two just said “Hello” while never looking up. The sad thing is that did not surprise me. In fact, that happens more times in a day then I care to admit. At first I would take it personally and think it rude, but then I really started to watch and pay attention to people as they are walking and realize it’s more a sign of the times.
I don’t mean that our society is getting ruder, it’s just that our society is getting ‘more techy’. Next time you are at a restaurant, look around. What do you see? The other day I went to dinner and saw a mother and her son, probably about 11, coming in for a dessert date. After they ordered instead of talking about the day, they both got right on their phones. When the mother was done eating, she got right back on her phone while her son finished up. Before you start to pass judgment, really look around next time you are out. You will see this is more and more the norm. The same is true while you are in the mall, a grocery store and just walking around. All eyes are on blinky little devices.
Where is the human touch?
Customer service and sales transactions are even progressing more towards e-mails, Facebook, social reviews and Linked-In over picking up the phone and making a call. The plus side to this is that responses tend to come faster. The negative side is that those responses are often automated and mass-customized. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, it loses the human touch.
And what do I mean by human touch? I don’t mean poke the person next to you in the arm instead of poking them on Facebook. It means we have to remember what it means to be human and never lose that in the face of all this amazing technology. There are two sides to this, being the customer and being the professional.
Thank you goes a long way
When you are remembering to be human as the customer, remember that the person you reached out to has a life outside work. Be patient in waiting for a reply. If you need one right away, don’t e-mail or stalk them on Facebook. Pick up the phone and call them. Be kind and thank them in advance for their fast response. You need to remember that e-mails can go down, get routed to SPAM and also refuse to open attachments. Be more patient if you are asked to re-send information or, dare I say it, dust off the fax machine. There is also remembering to simply say thank you. This goes a long way.
The professional human
When remembering to be human as the professional, we want to remember that we are dealing with humans. Humans have emotions and faults. It’s really going back to the basics. Acknowledge people when you see them, even if they are engrossed in their electronics. When sending e-mails, make sure to thank them for their business, acknowledge their time and address all their questions in a personal way. If you get “yelled at” on an e-mail or via social media, remember that it’s easier to yell at a screen then a face. Acknowledge their concerns and apologize. Don’t get defensive. It’s not personal; it’s business. There is nothing that you can’t fix!
In conclusion, we all want to remember that in a world where computers seem to be taking over everything, we don’t want to lose the basic human element of conversation and manners. So thank you for taking the time to read this today.
Submitted by guest blogger Nicole Marshall, a valued NHLA member.