The Paradox of Technology: Making Companies More Human

"What we’re seeing is the Paradox of Technology – the ironic situation where, amid digital transformation and contrary to what you might expect, technology can actually make companies more human."

Not long ago, a Pega survey of more than 1,000 consumers and telco/broadband decision-makers uncovered some alarming findings:

  • 64% of broadband companies say they know and understand their customers well
  • 24% of customers agree

Yikes! This means companies are wrong nearly two-thirds of the time!

Now for the good news

And there is good news: The best brands are becoming increasingly more human in the way they interact with customers. They’re showing empathy and understanding by taking into account customer expectations and balancing them with company objectives.

They’re listening with intent and using insight – awareness combined with institutional memory – to guide thinking and behavior. And they’re acting responsibly: keeping their promises, keeping things simple, and making things right when they go wrong. They learn and adapt while creating business strategies, improving business processes, and evaluating new ideas.

The Paradox of Technology

What we’re seeing is the Paradox of Technology – the ironic situation where, amid digital transformation and contrary to what you might expect, technology can actually make companies more human.

This era of digital transformation is not so much about the technology as it is about the customer – the human beings that companies interact with every day. And unlike the pre-digital era, which focused on operational efficiency and often resulted in a widening gap between companies and their audiences, digital transformation is about getting closer to your customers as individuals and as human beings.

Imagine. Technology – the very thing that created layers of systems that didn’t communications with one another and the very thing that created distance between companies and customers – can actually bring people together and make companies more human.

More data doesn’t necessarily mean more understanding

Despite an abundance of consumer data, companies are often no more knowledgeable about their customers then they were before. At the same time, consumers are aware that businesses know a great deal about them and expect the business to use that information in ways that will improve their experience (in other words, “don’t ask me for information you already have.”)

Big Data can lead to confusion and information overload – more is not always better. So, forced to figure things out on their own, companies may struggle with the technology rather than engaging with their customers.

All about the customer

Consumers have never had more control or more access to information. But they’ve also never had such great expectations. Breakthrough brands are looking beyond traditional technologies and the fragmented processes and disjointed client experiences that result in a loss of loyalty. The digital world touches all aspects of our lives, and it can either build and nurture relationships, or it can create a chasm between companies and their customers.

Think about it: What is your organization doing to meet customer expectations? Jim Bush, EVP of World Service at AMEX, answers that question as he describes American Express call centers:

“We converted from a robotic, scripted environment to a conversational environment that brings the personality to life and brings one-to-one connections, which is what ultimately builds and sustains relationships.”

For an in-depth look into the evolution of more human companies, check out our new eBook on customer engagement.

Coming up: What makes human-centered technologies?

Stay tuned for my next blog post, where we’ll examine clouds, green fields, seamless experiences, and the gap between insights and information.