5 Ways the Human Element is Lacking in the Professional World
It seems the human element is diminishing from customer interaction rapidly. In this, the “Age of Connectivity”, we seem to be losing the fundamental aspect of the personal touch. Doesn’t every single customer deserve the best product and/or service you have to offer? Have we forgotten that the best referral comes from a satisfied client?
It seems that the human element is something that we are now taught to appreciate in a professional B2C (Business to Consumer) relationship. This is a tragedy; one that would have the grandfathers of industrialism would be turning in their graves if they knew about. Here are 5 prime examples of how this element is severely lacking.
It seems no matter what number you call these days, there is an automated “phone bot” on the other end of the line. After several minutes of listening to a series of options and pressing the buttons, you may or may not get to the destination. If you are lucky, it will not hang up on you and you can accomplish your task. But if you are like me, you just want to talk to a living, breathing person. Someone that will respect my time and help to solve my problem. That is customer service in my book, not some automated “bot” that will waste my time.
So, after going through the motions with the “bot” and getting frustrated, I press “0” only to be told that “0” is an invalid option. Finally, after a few more minutes, I reach an option where I can select to speak to a “Customer Service Representative” who can assist me. However, first I have to be placed on hold for several more minutes as I listen to elevator music. My favorite! Eventually a representative comes on and assists me in 45 seconds flat. I have now been on the phone for 20 minutes (+/-) for a 45 second issue. It just doesn’t make any sense.
The customer service in this example is pretty much non-existent. The company is trying to save a few bucks and is probably using a “call center” located somewhere overseas where the representative reads from a script and has no working knowledge of the products whatsoever. By the time I actually got to speak to someone I was already irritated. Think of how the representative must feel? Dealing with irritated people all day! No thanks!
Online courses seem to be the growing trend these days. Anything you want to learn, they ask you to sign up for a “webinar” or download some “e-book” after providing your contact information. Then your information is loaded into some outbound marketing email engine and the barrage of unwanted emails start coming from this source. All we wanted was some training!
So we take the course and presto! We are trained, right? Wrong. An ancient Chinese proverb states: “I Hear and I Forget; I See and I Remember; I Do and I Understand.” You are likely to remember some of what you have paid to learn, but you will certainly forget the majority. Is this what we bargained for?
Training requires the personal touch. It is impossible to devise a training program that will address every single student’s requirements based on where they are when they enter the program. For good training to be effective, we first have to evaluate the knowledge level of the student and then cater a program to suit their needs. Isn’t that what you are paying for?
Unfortunately, professional development is nearly extinct. A new hire is plopped in the chair, given a manual to read and then turned loose, with the expectation of a “model employee” as the result. If they are lucky, they will have a mentor or someone to quality check their work when completed. The hiring company simply does not understand how much money this costs them in the long run due to inefficiency, lost revenue and mistakes. It would have been less expensive to send the new hire on an all-expenses paid trip to Europe for 3 weeks.
Professional Development is where people grow. This requires an analysis and interviewing on a regular basis of the employee. And I am not talking about the ever-so-popular “annual review.” My belief is that reviews should take place semi-annually at the minimum. We don’t talk about weaknesses. We talk about strengths. The employee has input as to the direction that they are heading in. They are not given a bunch of tasks to improve on. They are engaged to set a path for their own future growth.
Contrary to popular belief, professional development is not just for new people! The employee has invested his/her effort into your company. They spend a great deal of time in your location. If you ask them, you could find out (rather quickly) ways that your company is coming up short and make suggestions for improvement. Don’t you think you should allocate some budget dollars to invest in the security and productivity of your company’s future?
If your people are not growing, they are going…somewhere else. If you want to retain employees, you must engage them on a daily basis. More money is lost each year due to disengaged employees in your company than is saved by not allowing them an opportunity to grow. Don’t believe me? Read what the experts at Gallup say here. They have conducted extensive testing and can provide actual numbers on how much money you are wasting each year.
Simply put, mentoring cannot exist without the human touch. Everyone needs someone to help them reach the next level. At the corporate level some of this may exist. But as it trickles down, it becomes less important. When I was in the retail world, I acted in this capacity for CSI Chevron, in the Loss Prevention and C.O.R.E. Trainer role in the South Florida market. My job was to train station managers on how to implement strategies to present uniformity in station appearance.
Then I got into trusses and I was plopped in the chair at Gator Lumber and asked to begin designing from architectural plans. Had I not had a strong mentor (my father) or had several years of prior experience working in the manufacturing facility making trusses, I may have failed. I had no previous experience reading plans, which is the most difficult part (in my opinion), due to discrepancies and omissions. I am a hands-on type learner and I need someone to bounce ideas off of. We all do. We all need a solid, quality mentor to ensure success.
There is no substitute for mentorship. An experienced person will remember what it was like when they first stared out AND make an effort to help foster growth. They will show you tips and trick that otherwise would never be learned other than by trial and error. As Winston Churchill stated “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” No one wants to fail. And they won’t with a good mentor!
In my book, this is the biggest problem of all. Repeat business relies upon customer satisfaction. New business is driven by the consumer’s opinion about your product or service and what others have to say about it. With websites like Yelp, anyone has the power to provide a positive or negative feedback rating for your company. Quality is the key to business growth and retention of sales.
How many times have you been your local Publix (grocery store), Walmart or Post Office and they have handed you your receipt and circled a portion of it asking for your feedback. They provide a web link to some type of survey they want you to spend your precious time filling out. Chances are you ignored it if the service was good. If the service was bad, you probably went right home and logged on and filled it out and “let them have it.” If you were really upset, you may have even called their office to complain to a customer service representative and went through the monotony mentioned above.
Without the human element in quality assurance, there is not much hope for resolving what went wrong in the first place. Your survey results get lost in some tally that ends up on a decision maker’s desk, which spends very little time truly understanding what the conflict is and how it arose. The real problem is that without the quality there is no assurance…that your business will be sustainable.
There is no supplement for the human element in the professional world. Your customer deserves the best product or service you can provide. Do not sacrifice their satisfaction to save a few dollars by removing the human element from each and every interaction they have with your company. If you do, your sales will reflect it.
Christopher Gould – President
Gould Design, Inc.