If you read about business in popular publications like Forbes or Inc., you will likely find a lot of content on the up-and-coming companies of today. Silicon Valley is the new Wall Street. Technology is evolving every day, and companies have to keep working harder and harder to keep up. Millennials are leaving the traditional workplace behind to telecommute and travel the world instead of staying loyal to one company and rising in rank to become leaders.
Things have changed in our culture. That cannot be denied.
As a business owner, it can be difficult to find the balance between the "traditional" ways of doing business and the evolved ways. For Gen-Xers, telecommuting was never really an option, face-to-face meetings happened on a daily basis, and technology was implemented into companies slowly and for meaningful purposes. There has always been the rush to be the first, the best, the brightest; but never before has there been a larger gap between companies and clients. We have spent so much time creating technology that will do the work for us that we have stopped worrying about human connection. Young CEOs are often not even on-site at their own companies, so they don't have a way to get to know their employees and create a relationship built on respect and loyalty.
This is where the older, forgotten, Generation X business owners get the advantage.
Generation X business owners remember that before email, when there was a question, you would pick up the phone and call someone to get an answer. It was just two humans speaking to each other trying to find solutions together. Millennials don't seem to understand that while convenience is nice, there is still some importance in human interaction.
According to Forbes.com, interpersonal collaboration drives innovation. It is not enough to send a coworker a slack message or conduct an important meeting over a conference call. Sending an IM may get you an answer, but not engagement. While it certainly helps to be able to quickly reach a coworker across the country, that is not how relationships are built and if relationships are not built, then successful collaboration can't happen.
So, how can Gen-Xers use this information in business? By setting up more ways for clients to get that personal touch. Customers usually want answers, and would much rather go back to the days of picking up a phone to ask a quick question instead of filling out a basic "contact us" form on a website. If a client is experiencing a problem with a product or service, he likely wants to actually speak to someone to remedy the situation instead of wait through ten minutes of prompts on a phone call, only to end up with a representative who inevitably transfers the call to someone else.
The human touch is something so many businesses today are lacking, and something that can easily be implemented. However, if a whole new client service department isn't exactly in the budget right now, consider investing in an answering service. These services allow customers to call with questions and speak directly to a human in the United States that works specifically for your business, no phone prompts necessary. This small feature, that was once such a normal business procedure, will help your business stand out. No matter how much technology is available, clients still like to be treated like humans and respected.
Maybe you can't develop a trusting and loyal relationship with your employees anymore, but that doesn't mean you can't build it with your clients.