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We need to talk: has digital killed the art of conversation?

Technological advancements have changed every aspect of the way we communicate and work in 2020; they have dramatically influenced the way we make decisions as consumers and business decision makers. But, are we better for it? We take a closer look at the impact of mobile technology and digital communications, particularly how they have affected our ability to connect with each other, both socially and in the world of work.

Instant everything


Whilst, once, it might have just been email notifications and the occasional phone call, our everyday working lives are now filled with interruptions, alerts and distractions. Internal communication channels, task list reminders and meeting alerts come at us all day, each with differing levels of urgency and varying requirements. In our personal lives we have instant messages, emails, app notifications and voice assistants in our hands, demanding instant attention or diverting our focus until we are lost in absent-minded scrolling.

As a result we are generally less patient and more easily frustrated if we don’t get prompt answers, instant communications and immediate results. In our capacity as consumers, this means being able to search online and get immediate results, or receive instant replies from customer service channels to solve our problems. And now, our experience as consumers has influenced our expectations in the business environment, where online research, web chat interactions and self- serve customer support are the norm when seeking information to feed our decision-making process. Whilst this means we are essentially capable of doing more in less time, it’s interesting to consider how this affects the way we interact with others in direct or social situations – how many people rely on email or instant messaging as opposed to making calls or speaking face to face and how does this impact working environments?

Are we losing the connection?


Today’s younger generations have never known a life without the internet. Research by Ofcom into children’s use of media shows that children are becoming more digitally independent at younger ages, with 55% of 5-15 year-olds using a mobile phone to access the internet. Whilst the report highlights that 55% of parents of children aged 5-15 feel that the benefits of their child being online outweigh the risks – this has decreased in the past five years. Aside from important concerns around online safety, data protection and information security issues, our reliance on digital interactions does beg the question as to whether we and our children are becoming desensitised to real-life interactions?

Whether in a social or business environment, the volume and frequency of real human-to-human interaction is lessening by the day and this must have consequences for our off-line communication and social skills, as this article by Forbes puts it:

Has Technology Killed Face-To-Face Communication?

Our intensifying relationship with the digital environment that leads to unhealthy habits that not only distract us from the “present,” but also negatively impact communication effectiveness.
Forbes

 

The role of technology


Our thirst for instant information and our expectation of a seamless customer experience create a massive challenge, which technologies such as AI, machine learning, marketing automation and bots can help address. Marketers today need to be able to adapt their messaging, not just via the appropriate channels for their target audiences, but also in the correct medium to ensure they capture and hold consumers’ attention for long enough to engage. Technology has an important role to play in helping marketers address this challenge and respond to buyer’s instantaneous needs, but this should not be to the exclusion of human interaction. In any context, human contact creates a genuine connection, allows us to communicate sensitive or complex information and ideas, and builds trust and understanding in a way that can’t be achieved through digital channels alone.

The growing consensus is that we need to find the right balance between digital and human interactions, both in our personal and work lives.

The importance of a human connection


Research shows that maintaining social connections is essential to our physical and mental wellbeing. Those who are socially connected are shown to be happier, “physically healthier and live longer, with fewer mental health problems than people who are less well connected”.

Relationships in the 21st century: the forgotten foundation of mental health and wellbeing

Relationships are one of the most important aspects of our lives, yet we can often forget just how crucial our connections with other people are for our physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Mental Health Foundation



In the business environment, particularly B2B, relationships and trust are essential to successful customer engagement. As we’ve highlighted in previous articles, finding a balance between data, technology and meaningful human contact is key to creating a high quality, responsive customer experience where your customer feels valued and understood. Not only is human interaction a strong differentiator in the digital world, it provides a powerful engagement channel and the authentic, ‘human’ experience that customers now crave.

At The Telemarketing Company, we’re thrilled to be celebrating 30 successful years in the industry delivering high quality, high-performance voice contact services and sales growth for our clients worldwide. If you would like to discuss how we can help you incorporate high value, real human interaction into your engagement strategy, get in touch today.

 
 

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