WHEN TECHNOLOGY IS IN CHARGE: A CAUTIONARY TALE

What do you do when your computer crashes? Or, say you need to call a family member or friend, but don’t have your cell phone… can you recall the number? If you’re like most people, you’re hard-pressed to get any work done without your computer and without your cell phone in hand, you’re lucky to remember your own number, let alone a friend’s!

Undeniably, technology regulates our very existence, both at home and at work. We send greetings and well wishes via text message. We keep calendars, shopping lists and banking information on our phones. At work we communicate with colleagues via email and conference calls.

Technology has immense benefits for the workplace, allowing us to do things that not many years ago were unimaginable. We can instantly keep in touch with employees, suppliers, and customers in distant locations. We know which products are in stock, and which ones are selling. Pricing information is readily available to the sales team, and we know which salespeople are moving the most product. We can calculate the amount of time salespeople spend on the phone with potential customers who call in and whether they follow proper protocols to get potential buyers into the store. That’s powerful information!

Over reliance on technology has its consequences; some desirable, and some adverse.

Yet, innovation, by nature, can be disruptive It changes the way we are accustomed to doing things. There are always consequences; some desirable, and some adverse. But an over reliance on technology to the point that you do only what a computer tells you can result in missed sales, lost revenue, declining relations between management and employees, and conflict among colleagues.

One problem is that some employees really do depend on the computer to tell them what to do. A computer can provide accurate pricing and other essential information, but it can’t tell the salesperson how to connect with a customer on an interpersonal level. Customers can show up at a business already knowing products specs and prices, so sales people need to depend on instincts and communication skills to develop a connection.

Communication – especially between a salesperson and a customer – is a full-body experience that includes sight, sound, and touch. Closing a sale requires intuitive interaction, which can’t be learned from spending too much time interacting with and depending on computers, cell phones, and other gadgets.

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