But despite our best efforts, technology cannot replace personal accountability.
Humans are clever. We’re always looking for the next tool to simplify our lives. Some hope that technology will solve all their problems. We await the new pill that allows us to eat fattening foods and still lose weight; or the new process that allows us to burn more fossil fuel without increasing air pollution; or the new tool that enables us to live as lazy and carefree as possible without the consequence of disease or mental deterioration. There’s always the hope that more technology will liberate us from the need for discipline and personal responsibility. But that never happens.
Technology can facilitate the development of relationships but it can’t replace our need, as social beings, for the human contact that makes them endure. It can extend our reach in one or two dimensions to help us see and hear, but never in conjunction with human touch. It can’t replace the personal, emotional connection that is only possible when one person engages with another. We evolve to realize our full human potential by interacting with others. So the more dependent on technology we become, the greater is our need for human contact. It’s the high tech-high touch conundrum.
It’s easier than ever to order a product or service on line, but if something goes wrong, we want to speak with a representative. When our power goes out, we want to get a status report from someone. We want and need prompt resolution and the emotional satisfaction that results. Of course, if we remain dissatisfied, an opposite emotion surfaces.
Technology is without emotion. It may facilitate a transaction but it cannot replace the promise that underlies it. Making a promise is a very human function, involving a personal commitment; fulfilling the promise resolves an obligation and generates trust. Technology cannot duplicate the intimate responsibility conveyed when a promise is made, nor replace the emotional satisfaction produced when it is kept.
Only people can make promises, so be prudent about your commitments. Technology can speed the communication of your pledge but it does not abdicate your personal responsibility for keeping it.
How does your technology enhance, not replace, your personal relationship with customers?
What expectations does the word “promise” raise within your organization?