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We all know the amazing advancements that we have seen in technology that have made some of our lives easier and that is great news for many. We have cellular phones and Wi-Fi. High speed data, mini computers, equipment that makes it much more economical for people to go about their daily routines with increased ease and flexibility. Well, good for those who benefit from the advancements! What about those whose lives have become more difficult as a result of technological advancements? What about businesses that have saved some time and money, while making others' lives perhaps a little more difficult?
I find myself being one of those who appreciate why companies use the tools they think make them more efficient. But many times, as a customer I cannot understand why they fail to see the lack of benefits and efficiencies they really provide to their customers. The first example of modern technology that is a great tool for the company but many times a disaster for the customer is the automated switchboard. These are used by both small and large companies and could work if they handled a call promptly. Instead we have a choice of many different options to select and many times my question does not fall into the categories listed. So, I listen to all of the options, trying to be a fair person, and then end up repeating the entire list over again. I should also add -why don’t they give me an option to talk to a real person up front? If I am fortunate enough to find a category to select, then I am told the wait time is X number of minutes when I have already spent time on just the selection process. Great technology misused is a great mistake.
Next in line is the cellular phone that is an amazing tool that has revolutionized all our personal and professional lives and is a great tool for communications within the company and with customers. In fact, we have used this tool so much we don't even talk to people anymore for texting has replaced conversation. This is a great tool that can also be abused by not even calling or texting people back. When you give out or list a cellular phone number you really make a commitment to respond to people promptly because they know that your message got to you within seconds after it was sent. We should also remember that when you use someone's cellular number try hard to respect their privacy and not just call anytime of the day/night to customers, suppliers, or of course employees.
The internet and social media have also created a phenomenal vehicle that is used extensively by business and individuals. It has created an opportunity to advertise and promote your business, assuming you know what you are doing. It is a great tool for everyone to browse and use to support business decisions and announcements, if it portrays your business properly. Unfortunately, many times this tool becomes a negative promotional tool if the site is outdated and is not maintained properly on a regular basis. If you are not using and maintaining this resource to your advantage as a business, then just remember that almost everyone else probably is taking advantage of this relatively low-cost promotional tool.
Lastly let's look at what technology has done to the products that we buy. Sometimes you wonder if the designers make these changes to make it better for them or their customers. Recently I purchased a computer and was excited about getting higher speed and improved tools that would instantly make my life easier. Instead of meeting my expectations I got a device that would not work with some of the existing sites that I frequently use, and updated software that made me learn how to use some of the applications all over again. Needless to say, my expectations were just the opposite. When I contacted the manufacturer for some help, they spent a lot of time with me, once I got past the automated switchboard, but never really solved my problems or answered my questions. Now I guess it is up to me to figure it out. I also purchased a new oven that has all the bells and whistles you can imagine but the keyboard for operating the oven has non-backlighted lettering that is so small it cannot be read with the human eye. Technology marks are high, but the practicality marks are very low. It's okay to be impressed by features and benefits but remember to make sure the device can easily be used by your customers and is really a useful replacement for them. Technology is great as long as you don't use it just to make your life easier without considering the impact that it can have on the end users. When you begin to implement technological advancements in your business make sure you step back and look at the real product from all sides. Make sure you try the product and objectively see if it really represents an improvement for all. Don't save time and money at the risk of perhaps losing a customer.
Author: Don Pierson, Apr 2019