2016 was the year of automation and machine learning.

There are some undeniably amazing things happening in that world, but the more that happens there, the more valuable face-to-face, 1:1 interactions become. You can’t lose sight of this.

There is literally NO substitute for human connection, so find a way to create that in your company, whether you’re selling industrial lubricants, or in the “cutting edge startup” territory.

We’ve talked about this before, HERE and HERE and in a dozen or so other tidbits. But there’s a specific reason why so many of my clients are finding dramatic success with my simple Pick-3 Process outlined in The Customer Loyalty Loop. It’s because it’s forcing them to pick up the phone, set a meeting, send a handwritten letter, and simply engaging in personal 1:1 interaction.

It’s forcing them on a daily basis to do something that’s meaningful, memorable, and personal – and that’s how you WIN in today’s world.

A lot of my prospective consulting clients are often shocked the first time we meet because I purchase a ticket, drive to the airport, get on a plane, and spend time with them to truly discover their objectives. When a company is making a significant investment in our work, it’s the right thing to do, and it adds tremendous value. For example, I was just St. Louis last week, and I’ll be in Chicago in the coming days.

I was working with a sales organization that argued their core customers liked to text message so they might as well text back, and while it’s smart to communicate with your customers in their preferred method, it’s often done at the expense of the simple, high value-added interactions that you could be having.

Are you throwing away value that could be easily earned by you and your company?

One of the most exciting things for a lot of my clients, especially those with valuations of under $5B, is that they can stand out with simple customer service behaviors that wouldn’t have caused anybody to blink an eye 15-20 years ago. As a simple example, consider the impact of calling a company and having a real live person pick up the phone, within three rings, and helping direct your call. Ditching the IVR for a live person has a HUGE impact on customer and prospect attitudes, which can influence not only that call but the rest of that relationship.

Read that last paragraph again.

Today’s tidbit is short and sweet, but it’s SUCH a powerful lesson and it’s one that I can’t stress enough.

In what areas are you trying to automate important and valuable customer interactions when in reality, you should be reducing your reliance on automation and adding more of a human element?

Your challenge today is simple:

Pick ONE (just one) single, important text or email you’re going to send today and don’t send it.

Pick up the phone and communicate in person. Bonus points if you can meet face to face or use Skype or Facetime to actually see each other. Let me know how it goes.