Ahhh the digital age…. It’s a wonderful thing. Its changed the way we do business, where we can do business from, how we pick where to eat out and even gives us the ability to purchase items or book a restaurant from our mobile device.
But the digital age comes at a cost, and I think the cost is that we are losing the art to communicate. With teenagers now more comfortable dealing with confrontation or general daily conversations via Facebook messenger than in real life, as discussed in “Reclaiming Conversation – The power of Talk in a Digital Age” by Sherry Turkle are we losing the ability to connect with other human beings? And if so where does that leave customer service.
Companies such as McDonalds are now allowing job applications through Social Media channels like Snapchat, it seems that we are more connected through digital technology than ever before but we are also more disconnected than ever before.
Instead of being forced to leave the confides on our homes and venture out in to the real world and have a cup of coffee or a drink at a bar with a friend, we can now talk to them through various channels from the comfort of our living rooms. We don’t really need to engage in real life if we don’t want to, and we can create an avatar type personality online to be the online version of our self; one that lives the high life perhaps, or one who is bolder than we may appear in real life. And we use filters to only show what we want you to see.
Marketing used to just be something businesses would engage with, but now it’s possible to market yourself as a brand by just carefully filtering your life online.
But the question that often bobbles around in my head late at night, is; are we losing the art to communicate by being so overly connected online that we miss out on vital person to person real life communication?
I was brought up in a household where meal times were always around the family dining table and with no interruptions from the outside world allowed. But I know that’s not the case for many modern family dining rooms these days.
If you were meeting friends at a bar and they were running late, you would awkwardly strike up a conversation with the bar tender or the person sitting next to you, but now we just turn to our mobile phones and see what other people are up too. We miss out on vital chances to interact with other people regularly.
If practice makes perfect and repetition is the mother of all skill, it would stand to reason that the less chances we have to communicate in real life, the more we lose the skill or even never learn it properly in the first place.
As customer service goes, I have noticed the steady decline in good service levels across the industry and as we see a younger generation of Hospitality workers come through the ranks who have not learnt the art to communicate, how will they ever be able to connect with their customers.
Customer service in its simplest form, is being welcoming, hospitable and treating someone else how you would like to be treated. But if you don’t know the first thing about communication, how will you connect when you can’t do so through a computer or mobile device? How will you deal with a complaint or handle different personality types?
I have always found that the best wait staff, managers and leaders are the people who love to communication. Who will drop almost anything to chat with you, actively listen to you and empathies with you. Some of my most memorable conversations have been just that.
So I put this to you, have we lost the art to communicate and how does this affect the customer service of the future?
Love to hear your thoughts.
Kate Bickford MD & Owner - BK AGENCY: