Today’s work environment is fueled with smartphones, emails and video conference meetings. Technology has taken over and is the main vehicle of communication. However, is this high tech approach to human interaction problematic? Does technology actual deter lasting connections with colleagues and clients? In some cases, yes but it doesn’t have to be that way. The key is to integrate technology with the “old school”, hands on, personalized approach to business interaction. This is the only way to ensure that connections become more meaningful, long-lasting relationships.
What is High Tech vs. High Touch?
In the early 1980s, John Naisbitt wrote a book called “Megatrends” where he described 10 trends that would shape the 21st century. One of the trends was called “High Tech/High Touch”. This trend pointed out that within the emerging technological or information based society, people must compensate for the lack of personal contact with one another. He implies, quite correctly, that the way an individual can stand out in this new tech savvy society is to embrace the personal touch. In fact, he goes onto to say human nature will demand the “high touch” since it is an integral part of our nature. In some regards John Naisbitt was correct. There was an emergence of progressive high touch methodologies such as self-help/ self-growth and other personal growth methods such as yoga and daily meditation. But, can high tech be used to further high touch?
High Tech Can Not Replace High Touch
High tech has made us more knowledgeable, faster to respond and available 24/7, but it does not build trust, the building block for a relationship.
How many times have you sent an email where you were joking with a colleague, but it wasn’t read as a light hearted comment? Probably more than once, would be my guess. An email cannot convey facial expression, tone of voice or overall delivery of the message. This is why the message is often taken the wrong way. (Emoji’s have helped, but even these little cartoon characters are not appropriate to use in a business setting, unless you know the person on a personal level.)
However, if you were to text someone right after you saw that they were upset about something to find out if they were ok and set up a lunch to meet in person, this would be a good blend of high tech and high touch.
This is just the day to day interaction. How about business organizations reaching and retaining customers? How effective is high tech and high touch when successfully blended together?
Using High Tech to Further High Touch in Business
Forbes Magazine wrote a piece about an eCommerce retailer that is transforming the fashion industry called www.stitchfix.com. This online retailer has taken the power of data gathering and combined it with a personal touch.
This online retail has embraced high tech through algorithms and big data to determine what a shopper is most likely to purchase. With each shopper’s account, they securely store credit card data and have an extremely streamlined checkout process for purchasing. The shopper is automatically charged $20 to be sent 5 items for purchase (which is taken off the price of anything they purchase) and a return envelope for any or all five items if not interested in purchasing.
High touch is achieved by personalizing the 5 items that are selected for the shopper. The shopper fills out a personal style profile about what they like, how clothes should fit and what their price points are for different types of clothing and accessories. Stitch Fix goes even further by assigning a personal stylist that the shopper can send requests to and who in turn, includes a personal note along with each shipment sharing styling tips for the items. I know someone who uses this high tech/high touch service and this is what she has to say about it:
I personally use this service and love it! With each shipment, the 5 items get better and better in regard to my expectations. I know they are gathering my personal information and in a way manipulating personal preferences to make a sale, but I don’t really care. For someone who hates shopping, but loves clothes, it’s like getting a personalized gift each shipment! (Even though, it’s actually not a “gift” since I’m paying for it.) As a shopper I always buy a least one item in the shipment, so I won’t “lose” my $20 styling fee. I feel like it’s all up to me, there is no penalty for stopping the service, so that’s even personalized.
Other businesses can learn from this online retailer. Without a doubt, they successfully married high tech to high touch. The proof is in the profits. Stitch Fix, founded in 2011, has brought in an estimated $250 million in 2015. They are projected to increase their sales by 50% by the end of 2016. Wow.
Want to Learn the Power of High Tech and High Touch?
Timothy Dimoff can help your organization understand the power of combining high tech and high touch. Contact Tim or call him at 330-730-3524 to schedule the Tim’s Talk Are You High Tech or High Touch? If you would like to read more about this subject, order a copy of The YOU in Business. Tim will sign it and ship it to you or you can come by his office between the hours of 8am-5pm Monday through Friday to obtain the book. The cost is $20 plus shipping and handling. Order your copy today!