by Elaine Wu
Technology has enabled a new generation of entrepreneurs to find new and improved ways to of utilizing modern digital technology to disrupt old ways of doing business. As a starting entrepreneur, technology is a valuable resource, especially to build clientele and streamline business operations. However, although technology is at the forefront in the corporate world of today, that doesn’t mean you can forget about the employees — those very important people behind the scenes.
With such rapid advancement of technology, there is often the prospect of automation replacing people. And in today’s click-driven media environment, the sensationalism of the “new” sells. However, but just because tech can replace a human worker doesn’t mean we’re always going to want that. In some instances, even when tech can do an adequate job, we still want to deal with a person.
While a machine can perform a given task, often more efficiently than we can, our technology is still not advanced enough to replace the artistry in the activity or be as efficient in catering and being flexible to the needs of the individual. A protocol may suggest one approach, but a person can understand when to adjust and the subtleties that are required.
A personal example: I am one of the communications liaison for the Asian American Alliance on campus, and the other day we made a decently large order from Custom Ink–an online retail company that makes customer designed apparel such as T-shirts and sweatshirts. The order was done entirely online, from the designing process to the payment. However, when problems arose with our order later on, it was all handled over the phone, and got done significantly faster that way. When our p-card was repeatedly rejected online, we called in and figured out that the source of the issue was not the information that we inputted, but rather an issue with the bank itself. The website could not provide this information, but a person with access to this technology could. When we got the issue with the bank resolved and placed the order, immediately I got a call informing me that putting Oberlin College on the shirts would need licensing approval from the school and would cause a delay in our shipping, and asked whether we wanted to adjust the design at all. Considering that we were on a very limited time frame and depended on–and paid for–the shipment being delivered on time, we were very quickly able to ask licensing questions about what we can and can not do, and get the issue resolved within an hour of the order being placed. Although many issues arose from this ordering experience, because of the company’s efficiency and willingness to help our customer experience was a positive one, and we will most likely order from them again in the future. Considering that we are a large group of people, having someone call instead of email was vastly more efficient time-wise, and all parties benefitted. The company because they ensured their customer satisfaction, and we as the customers because of the transparency of the process and trust that was built through those brief phone calls.
Technology advances relentlessly forward, but some things remain fundamental–Personal communication being one of them.