High Tech and High Touch

We live in a demand world. Technology has enabled businesses to push unlimited messages out to the consuming public. Emails with special offers pummel our inboxes daily. “Like us on Facebook today, and get a free doodad!” “Take our survey and get 20% off your next order!” We may tolerate the bombardment, but I’ll bet that most of us still don’t like it.

The more that “high tech” marketing and sales tools provoke negative reactions, the more crucial it is to differentiate your company—with positive “high touch” CUSTOMER BUILDING practices.

The thing is… human beings have real and specific needs. Have you noticed how you feel when you realize that a company really gets you? It is almost as if you don’t mind giving them your money—because they are providing you with what you really want.

It is not a mystery—we just want companies to understand us. That realization should be front and center for a business. Zero in on what people want, and then deliver it with good quality, and at a fair price. We call it the “FAIR EXCHANGE,” and we teach fair customer development and service practices at GAPWORX.

Your marketing messages should be understandable, and convey a clear value proposition to the prospect. Hire capable salespeople that can follow an effective and humane sales process. Teach them to ask probing questions, to uncover the prospect’s CORE interests and needs. Build capabilities in your sales team about product and service knowledge, so that they can answer any question about prospect FEARS, UNCERTAINTIES, and DOUBTS. A well-equipped sales person will be able to match real prospect needs, with your product and services.

The way your company sells… and the way your company serves, should be balanced to the same high level of performance.

Creating positive CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES should be a priority for every company employee who encounters a prospect or a customer. Just as with successful sales people, customer service employees should ask effective questions…to understand the customer’s problems, and their emotions about the problem.

You can’t fix what you don’t understand!

This does not happen automatically, but it can become the intention of a company’s CUSTOMER BUILDING strategy, tactics, and systems. It can work with knowledge, training, and perfect practice-practice-practice.

The Learning Imperative

If you propose employee training programs to the owner of a small business you will likely trigger the “run- away” response. Often training is viewed as time taken away from “doing real work” – and as an overhead expense to be minimized or even avoided. But what if you reframe “training on the job,” into “learning on the job?” Wouldn’t most business owners want employees to learn, and do better in their roles and responsibilities?

“If you think training is expensive, try ignorance.” The esteemed management thinker Peter Drucker wrote that, and also recommended that a company should invest 5-15% of company revenues on employee training and development.

It has been researched and is now accepted that company training for employees contributes to greater job satisfaction, increased productivity, less turnover, better motivation, and more effective self-supervision. When a business workforce is engaged and satisfied on the job, it creates better customer experiences and financial gain for the business. Learning (training) correlates to improved performance.

So, about that time and money issue – when a company outlines its overall success objectives – those goals should be matched with a learning program to enable success. Tie whatever the company wants to accomplish with whatever it takes to get it.

Learning should begin with an organizational assessment to clarify where the company is, and where the company wants to go. Measure the gap and target specific goals. Is everybody on the same page, ready and willing and able to get it done? Can the company commit to an improvement plan, and is the process reasonably enjoyable for employees to do?

Training and learning should address defined job roles and responsibilities and be matched to specific employee competencies and capabilities. Everyone in the company should be included in the learning and improvement process – even the owners and leaders.

The learning and change processes must always be realistic with objectives everybody can manage and incorporate into everyday work requirements. Every business wants results, so it is crucial that job development and performance change processes are linked to accepted financial measurements.

Companies need to learn about the organization as a whole unit, because not all improvement essentials are specifically related to job tasks. Hard metrics such as financial health require careful examination – and so do the soft measurements of company culture. Realities of employee job satisfaction, well-being and motivation and others are critical attributes of a company – and they come from company culture.

Let’s get back to the question of whether or not a business can afford to take time and money for learning, and whether or not it will matter. Here’s another great quote; this one from Maya Angelou. ”We did what we did because of what we knew, when we knew better, we did better.”

For a business, that could translate into … more clients, more revenue, more profits and more cash flow.