Because you can automate something doesn’t mean you should necessarily automate it. Because you can leverage technology to do something doesn’t mean that it is the right thing to do.
Right now, you can automate some client interactions. You can set up a call tree, and you can give your clients or customers choices to “help” them to get to the person they need. You can also automate a greeting to remind them that their “business is very important to you,” and that “you appreciate” them.
You can also automate your prospecting efforts. You can set up templates, customize those templates by stakeholder title and perceived interest, and email your prospects to request an appointment. You can even automate your nurturing efforts by setting up a workflow that automatically sends your prospect value-creating content without your ever making an ask.
You can automate the collection of feedback from your clients after they make a purchase. This makes the collection of information easier and faster for both you and your client.
In a world that is becoming more and more transactional, the drive for efficiency increasingly looks to technology to automate as much as possible.
Automation drives down costs. It eliminates human errors, along with the humans that are prone to making them. It provides certainty that things will be scheduled, completed, monitored, and measured. And for some companies and some outcomes, this is going to be okay.
But when you are playing at a higher level, creating and capturing more value, efficiency isn’t the goal.
- A human being helping connect you to the person you need to speak to creates greater value than a call tree that first requests your customers language, asks them to pay attention because their choices have changed, and then offers them 8 different choices in a voice that makes it difficult to pay attention.
- A human being showing a real interest in developing a relationship with you creates a very different experience than a slightly customized email with a clumsy ask at the end. A human being that has personally sent you ideas, in their own handwriting, with highlighted passages and personal notes, is different than an automation funnel.
- The salesperson who sold you something calling you to follow up to ensure you are 100% satisfied and that you are getting the outcome you bought and paid for is different than a survey link being sent my email. One says “I care about you” as a person, and as a client. The other says that your company is checking the box.
You might be reading this list and saying to yourself, “But, Iannarino, these are now all very common business practices,” and you would be correct. But if you want to differentiate yourself, your company, and your offering, you need to be uncommon. If you want trusted relationships and clients-for-life, then you need to make things personal, not automate them.
But “Stop automating human interactions,” is a bit hyperbolic. There are cases where it may be a good decision. But if you sell business-to-business, eliminating the human connection in your business in exchange for automation destroys customer intimacy. If you are an individual contributor, think deeply about what you are automating, and what you are making personal.