We’ve been hearing for years that brick-and-mortar retail is doomed as online shopping becomes the norm, yet some offline industries are starting to notice growth. Why is that? For example, why are bookstore sales staging a comeback after many years of decline?
There are many schools of thought, but one that I think is worth exploring is the impact of what I’ll call the “human element.” More and more, companies that are known for offering exceptional experiences tend to win in crowded marketplaces. As great as technology has become, it can’t replicate the impact of human beings on a business.
I can speak from experience: About a year ago I picked up the hobby of collecting and reading comic books (yes, this means I’m a nerd). I started this hobby like any other — I did a bunch of research online about characters and books I should check out based on reviews. Because I’m extremely impatient, rather than order my books on Amazon and wait two whole days for Prime shipping, I went to my local comic book shop for that sweet, sweet, instant gratification. I had a couple of titles in mind and talked to the sales person behind the counter about them.
What happened next was a perfect example of this human element: We had an hour-long conversation about what else I might be interested in, and he asked me about what movies and TV shows I like so he could get a sense of my taste. Then he suggested a bunch of options. We laughed, joked and geeked out about stuff. It was an experience that could never have happened if I ordered my books online.
Now I take all of my business there, even though I know of sites where I can get these books 40-50% off.
The point I’m making is that there’s a place for humans in this increasingly automated and tech-driven world. The good news is that this is one of those situations where you can have your cake and eat it too. Automation is a wonderful tool, but like any tool it has a particular use. You wouldn’t use a hammer as a screwdriver, right? Things like sending emails to every lead or manually writing and sending invoices are things that humans shouldn’t do and where automation and software can be incredibly helpful and effective.
Determine where in your business process human interaction makes a big difference
The steps to building a business that effectively uses tools like ONTRAPORT while not losing that human element are actually incredibly simple.
1. Map out your business.
I don’t just mean your sales pipeline; I mean the whole thing. Where do your leads come from? What happens after they become leads that helps them make the transition from lead to customer? What does your sales funnel look like? How do transactions happen? Do you have customer onboarding? Do you offer support to your clients? What do cancellation and/or refund processes look like? Do you have a referral system?
Once you’ve answered all the relevant questions, physically map out your business. You can write it on a whiteboard, sketch it on a napkin, type it into a doc, or use something like LucidChart.
2. Identify crucial human moments.
Consider the times in your business when humans make — or should make — an impact on your lead and/or customer experience. If you’re a coach/consultant this is the whole value proposition of your business, so you’re going to single out your coaching calls as where this value lies. Similarly, you also likely talk with leads on the phone while they’re in the evaluation phase of working with you, so that’s another time when human interaction is necessary.
3. Revise your map.
Highlight the crucial human touch moments on your map, and then go through and build that into your business processes.
4. Translate that map into an automated system build.
Take that map and build the necessary functions in your business automation tool. If you’ve already built your business processes into a system like ONTRAPORT, then you’re simply going to be adding Tasks, which are essentially notifications that a contact requires a human touch in some capacity.
Marry the human tasks with your automated tasks in ONTRAPORT
Here’s an example of how adding a human task would work along with your automated marketing:
Let’s say that I own that comic shop (if only…) and I’m building our online presence. Maybe I have a “contact us” form on our website where people can submit questions for the staff. I’m going to attach that form to a Task in ONTRAPORT that asks my best sales rep to give that new contact a call and have a conversation. Sure, an email would probably be a bit faster, but as a business owner I’m betting that the impact of that rep is going to outweigh what I’m paying him in wages to make these phone calls. My map might look something like this:
The key thing to note is that I’m using automation and that human touch to deliver a quality experience for my lead/customer:
- By filling out the form on my website, customers don’t have to physically come to my shop to ask a question, and they can reach out at any time.
- I can then send an immediate email thanking them for their question, so they know we’ve received it.
- My sales rep will follow up the next morning with a personal phone call to that contact. I’ll make sure the notes and title of that task make it clear to my sales rep what the call is for, what the question was, and what the contact’s name and phone number are so they don’t have to go chase it down in our CRM (if you’re not sure how to do this, read more about merge fields).
There are a million more ways you can implement tasks to put you (or your team) in a position to outclass your competition with genuine human experiences: Giving one-on-one demonstrations of your product, supporting clients when they have questions, or giving them a call and thanking them for a purchase are just a few examples. You’ll discover that no matter how much automation technology provides in the future, those who maintain the human element will ultimately win.