It’s amazing to consider how much technology has improved our lives and help cut down the friction in our day-to-day travails. Just in the past 18 months, with voice and image recognition, the integration of voice calls on products like Apple watches and the explosion and pervasiveness of tools like Slack, we are connected in a much more universal way than ever before. We all know that email, texting and video conferencing are all requirements to connect with clients and co-workers on a daily basis. All of these means of communication should drive efficiency and leave us with more time to focus on the highest value projects and tasks that make the biggest difference.
But when it comes to the workplace and our little corner of the service industry, is this always true?
There is a real case to be made that the more we rely on technology the more we lose touch with compassion and personal connection, and the more we run the risk of losing our most potent tool, our humanity.
According to a study that examined the impact technology is having on workplace relationships done by Randstad, sending an email may be quicker than a face-to-face meeting, but is less effective, especially when it comes to meaningful connection and rapport. The study further found that 65% of workers already feel society is becoming less compassionate due to the growing use of technology.
Consider this: person to person communication allows for honest connection. According to Harvard Business Review, a face-to-face request is 34 times more successful. Nonverbal cues are the single most powerful form of communication and according to Entrepreneur, 60% of people regularly misread tone or message when communicating via email. It’s easy to turn to technology to communicate but the result is a lack of personalization and trust-- and effectiveness.
Just in the last month, the 2 in-person meetings I’ve had with my clients resulted in the development of a full brand architecture and strategic direction for their brand. We did this through white-boarding, brainstorming and collaboration. We were able to see eye-to-eye (literally), ask questions, give and receive feedback, hear each other’s voices and truly listen.
As someone in client service, I find that face-to-face communication builds trust, and trust can lead to a long-term relationship. Sure, clients are buying your services, but what they are really buying is you…your values, your experience, your honesty.
I’m the first person to admit that I couldn’t function at work without technology, and I’m the first person to call my IT guy when the Wi-Fi is down(!). However, I try to reach out via phone or in-person as much as possible during my day…whether it’s a call to a client or quick in-person chat with co-workers. Because to me, there’s nothing quite like connecting on that human level.