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Tech is powering business, but it isn’t enough on its own to generate success. Creating a personal touch still remains one of the most potent and effective ways for a brand to stand out from the crowd.
The problem is that companies have a tendency to drift from the “human touch” over time. Without a deliberate effort to stay relatable, they quickly sink into a state of cold-hearted activity and bottom-line calculations.
With recent AI and automation technology exploding in popularity, it begs the question: How can you fit all of these new tech tools into your business plans without losing your human touch?
Let’s dive into a few of the best ways that I’ve found companies can get the most out of bleeding-edge tech without losing sight of the human experience along the way.
1. Embrace a human-first approach
In SEO (search engine optimization), marketers use things like keywords, linking and back-end activity on a website to ensure that their content is driving organic traffic to their company’s site. This optimizes online content to ensure it ranks well in search engines.
While this is all technically focused, it’s critical that SEO experts remember to put the reader first as they craft their content. If they make ranking high in search engines the top priority, it can lead to confusing text that doesn’t meet a reader’s needs. To put it another way, SEO experts must prioritize the readers (i.e., users/customers) first and the search engines that point those readers toward their content second.
The same principle applies to any application of technology in business. You should never prioritize tech tools as an end unto themselves. Instead, they should have a clear benefit that helps you serve your target audience better.
In marketing, this is referred to as human-to-human marketing. In customer service, a consumer-centric approach is essential. And when I say essential, I’m not exaggerating.
During the pandemic, when companies were using tech tools hand over fist to maintain their connection with customers, CGS polled thousands of consumers. The goal was to see how they were fairing in online customer service interactions.
The results were telling. More than a third of respondents (37.8% in the U.S. and 39.1% in the U.K.) didn’t just say that having a human element in the interaction was important. They said that an opportunity to connect with a human agent was a top three requirement of leaving the interaction happy.
If you want to embrace tech without losing the human touch, start by prioritizing the customer over the tech in every situation.
2. Don’t let tech hide your humanity
Technology can have an endless number of applications for a brand. You can use it to speed up invoicing, track customer profiles, forecast sales cycles, the list goes on.
One thing that tech should never be, though, is a cop-out. You should never use tech to avoid an issue, like dealing with an unhappy customer.
In fact, in the CGS survey listed above, nearly half of those asked wanted brands to be more transparent about how to get help from a human. They didn’t want to have to put in extra work to find a way around an automated customer service system.
When technology is implemented purely to save a buck or make an internal problem go away at the expense of the customer, it can quickly become a misuse of its value. Remember, tech should always enhance the customer experience. This can be a direct influence or an indirect one, but it should always be a factor.
It’s one thing to use technology to make things easier or reduce your overhead — if doing that hides your brand’s humanity, though, you should look for a better option.
3. Use tech to make human-centered activities easier
One of the simplest ways to lean into tech effectively is to use it to make “human touch” business activities more optimized (and, by extension, easier to invest in and sustain).
For instance, a branded podcast is a great way to showcase a brand’s humanity. It requires real-life recordings from the experts and individuals behind your products and services.
That said, a podcast is a lot of work. That can make it hard for companies to pull the trigger on a recurring show. This is a perfect opportunity for tech to help — and in more ways than one.
One example is the numerous AI and automation tools available to streamline the podcast production process. Simon Hodgkins points out that AI is already using NLP (natural language processing) to automate transcription services.
The CMO adds that AI can also help with post-production. It can remove background noise and fix irregularities in sound levels. AI can even generate ancillary items, such as show notes and social posts.
You can go even further by having an amplified marketing tool develop a longer blog article based on an episode that dives deeper into a topic. You will still want a human editor to give your content a once-over, but the overall process is faster, more affordable and expands your reach.
Technology and our humanity don’t have to be mutually exclusive aspects of business. With a little forethought, it’s easy to get the two to overlap.
Embrace a human-first mindset, and evaluate tech to ensure that it is helping rather than hiding your brand’s human touch. If you can maintain that mindset, you can find countless ways to use tech to give you a competitive advantage in your industry.