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Thinking Outloud: Let’s Not Lose the Human Touch

By: Michael Overstreet
Posted: October 13, 2008, from the April 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

In this ever-changing high-tech and low-touch world, nothing can replace the human touch. As humans, we all share the same basic emotions and the basic senses of sight, smell, taste, touch and sound. Why, then, my friends, is it so easy for organizations to forget the very essence of their existence?

As the business world and technology continue to merge, it seems to me that many companies have lost sight of the basics. Most, if not all, products and services are designed for people to use. What makes people buy? How many ways do people make buying decisions or choices? From my perspective, it frequently comes down to a few simple choices: the product or service appeals to their emotions or to their senses. Personal care product manufacturers who have done this have created a premium value proposition by focusing on the sensorial experiences of sight, scent and touch through the use of memorable colors, edgy fragrances and premium ingredients.

As the financial types seek to drive costs out of every process looking for short-term profits, we, as consumers, continually find ourselves being deprived of the very essence of the buying experience: human emotions. Think of the last time you had a problem or a question for a company you did business with or whose product you had purchased. How did the autom ated-attendant experience affect your perception of the experience? In most cases, you would consider obtaining products or services elsewhere the next time you considered buying. Nothing replaces the warmth of a smile, a firm handshake or a positive human experience in this hectic world. You simply can’t replace the human touch.

Americans are avid consumers, many buying things that they don’t need and frequently don’t even use. They do so to seek a feeling or emotion from the experience. Much has been observed and written about the differences in how men and women shop, the mental drivers and motivators in the buying process. While men typically have been classified as “buyers,” women have generally been seen as “shoppers.” Recently it was reported that women influence 93 cents of every dollar spent in the U.S. economy. WOW! How does your product appeal to these important consumers?

The human touch is equally important in the workplace. To paraphrase Thomas L. Friedman from his best-selling book The World is Flat, communication on steroids holds some great changes and challenges, and it also creates some great opportunities. Put your people first, cater to their inherent human needs and emotions, stimulate them, challenge them, recognize and reward them. They shall in turn reward the enterprise and its management with creativity, innovation and ideas needed to service the ever-changing needs of your customers. Appeal to their hearts as well as to their minds. In the future, those that do so shall secure their place in a growing and profitable niche. Good luck!