Smart phones. Smart watches. Smart everything.
The rise of cloud-based technology, the internet of things, and the resulting mobile domination has ensured that the people of today are never more than an arm’s reach away from the nearest smart device. We can go grocery shopping, attend a networking event, and even order a pizza — all without speaking to a single human being (Siri doesn’t count).
However, in a world where human interaction is no longer a necessity, it’s exactly what we crave.
Comedian Pete Holmes sums it up best:
But we’ve also got some data to back up that claim. In a recent study completed by the Mattersight Corporation, in which they surveyed over 1,000 millennials (the generation most commonly associated with the digital age), they discovered that, contrary to popular belief, millennials actually prefer face-to-face interactions over digital exchanges.
Nearly 85 percent of those surveyed claimed they would rather communicate with their family, friends, and co-workers in person than by phone or email — they believe that chemistry is an important characteristic of a quality conversation, and a factor that can only be achieved face-to-face.
But they’re not the first to come to that conclusion.
In a 1999 research study, it was discovered that a person is nearly 50 percent more willing to work with or help out another person if they are able to see, interact with, and get to know them.
Here’s how it worked: Two groups of students were asked to sit together in a room. The first group was given a small amount of money (about $10). As soon as they pocketed the money, they were asked to share it with the second group. The moderators quickly discovered that the students were more willing to share more of the money after they had seen, interacted with, and learned the names of those in the second group.
It just goes to show that people like to (and are more likely to) do business with people they know. And the same goes for your customers.
Your customers will be more willing to spend more money within your business, put their trust in you and your employees, and stick around longer if they feel like they’re dealing with actual people rather than an anonymous, faceless corporation … or worse, a robot. Which brings us to the moral of the story: It’s never been more important to be human in business. And if you’re not sure what that means or where to start, fear not, we’ve got a few tips.
Earlier this year, TSheets was featured in a ThinkViral blog series called “Who’s Acting Human Online.” The series serves to recognize companies who are successfully engaging with their customers, staying true to their brand, and showing off their human side on the web. We were recognized for our popular hashtag #TSheetsTuesday — a tag that inspires our followers to interact with us and show off their TSheets side each and every Tuesday. When that happens, we engage with them every. single. time. As a result, our customers know that when they interact with TSheets, they’re interacting with a real, live human being (who sometimes gives out free coffee).
Here’s a few lessons from 5 other companies who were featured for acting human online.
1. Follow the golden rule.
“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” No one excels at following this rule quite as much as Sweet Designs Cakery. They dedicate several hours each day to interacting with their customers on social media, sharing photos of their yummy treats, and coordinating fun social contests. But it’s the time spent supporting other business pages, sharing posts, and spreading the word about local companies that really sets them apart. They’re acting human by showing their customers they care about the community.
2. Get everyone involved.
It’s one thing to engage with your customers from the company twitter handle, but another thing entirely to engage with them from a personal profile. Customers love to interact with the real people behind the business scenes, since it confirms that the company is made up of actual humans (a fact we all know, but sometimes forget) and eliminates the possibility of purely promotional posts. When in doubt, look no further than Larson Binkley, an engineering firm with a serious human presence online. Their employees aren’t afraid to engage with their customers, and their customers love seeing behind the scenes.
3. Showcase your staff.
This is a surefire way to prevent your company from becoming a faceless entity. Post pictures of your staff, spotlight their interests and hobbies, and let your customers get to know the people behind the product. When in doubt, do what Livers Bronze does — showcase your employees of the month online. Not only will showcasing your staff make them (and your company) more approachable, but it’ll show your customers than you care about the people who make your company great. If you care about your employees, chances are you’ll care about your customers too.
4. Make ‘em laugh.
Nothing engages customers like a company who’s not afraid to show off their personality — especially if that personality is a funny one. Case in point: Big Ass Fans. They’re a company who manufactures, you guessed it, big ass fans. As if their name wasn’t funny enough, they’ve also got a sense of humor online … and a wicked fast response time. Their customers love reading about their latest antics in the fan industry, and that good humor keeps them coming back for more.
5. Post a lot of pics.
Remember, the students in the 1999 study were more willing to share more of their money once they saw the other person’s face. When they were able to put a face to the plight, they felt more compelled to help that person. The same goes for your customers. If they can put a face to your company, they’ll feel more invested in the company’s (and employees’) success. Take it from McCown Gordon, a construction company that isn’t afraid to put their staff front and center: They believe in the power of relationships, and those relationships come from face-to-face interactions (even if those interactions are virtual). Emulate their advice by posting pictures of your staff having fun on your social channels. Your customers will immediately feel more connected to the humans that make up your company.