Yesterday I went to the post office to ship some of my books and there was a fairly long line, probably because the post office was closed on Monday for Columbus Day.
I grabbed a number and had a seat. Because I’m at the post office so often, I know most of the employees. But yesterday an employee I’ve only seen a few times approached me and said that instead of waiting I could go use the automated postage machine in the lobby if I wanted.
I politely declined and told him I didn’t mind waiting. He seemed surprised but said “o.k.” and went on his way.
Some Things Are Better With Humans
This encounter got me thinking about how some things are inherently better when humans are involved. Now, before you go and call me old-fashioned, I must tell you that I’m right up there with the best of the technophiles. I’m a natural introvert, so in many cases I prefer email over a phone call or in-person chat.
But its important enough to me to know that my books are handled with care and sent on their way properly to spend the extra time it takes to wait for a place at the counter to open up. Plus, again because I’m there so often, I’ve come to know most of the counter postal workers and I look forward to the brief interactions we have.
Another place where I actually like the fact that humans are involved? Starbucks. Today I saw an article about how Starbucks is asking their baristas to slow down, and take more care in making each drink, even if it means customers are waiting longer. I’m happy to see this because I think that the Starbucks experience has become a little too technical, and needs to go back to being an artful experience. Only humans can make that possible.
I’m taking these cues and applying them to my work life as well. We’ve recently begun helping small and mid-sized businesses send direct mail postcards. One of our key differentiators is that we bring the human element to each campaign through our consultative approach.
Most companies that facilitate direct mail postcards for customers avoid actually having to speak to a customer at all costs. The entire process including design, list selection, and execution is completely automated. I think there are a lot of business owners out there who would welcome a little personal interaction with the company that’s helping market their business.
Over to you
What do you think? Do you prefer human interaction in business or avoid it at all costs in favor of tech driven transactions?
Photo credit: Starbucks Portage Place by emples on flickr