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HELLO? IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

– Human contact deteriorates with the proliferation of technology.

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Every time we introduce new technology to business, we see it as a way to accelerate sales, improve customer service, and lower costs. I wonder if this truly happens or are we only training the human spirit to accept a new way of operating. I find today’s technology very dehumanizing and is causing us to lose the common touch. It seems all of it is designed not necessarily to improve communications, but to avoid human contact.

We started seeing signs of this years ago when voice mail was introduced. Instead of someone talking to a client and taking a message, it was stored on a machine and conveniently forgotten, much to the chagrin of the frustrated customer. This has only gotten worse over the years, and “voice mail jail” is now a natural part of our way of life. We have acclimated. Even though it was claimed to improve customer service, it has only made it worse.

There are, of course, many other examples we are all familiar with now:

Banks and financial institutions want you to communicate through their web page, not with a teller. They also want you to process all of your transactions by computer, so they do not have to be burdened by paper any longer, such as printed checks, deposit slips, and mailing monthly statements.

The processing of travel tickets and hotel reservations is now left to the individual, not a travel agency, and frankly, it is not as easy to navigate as they would have us believe. After all, they are all produced by programmers who are more in tune with technology than the human being.

Newspapers and magazines will soon be a thing of the past as there is a push to transmit news and information exclusively over the Internet, not in paper form. Mark my words, there will come a time when someone will make a posting on social media saying, “Does anyone remember what this was?” (showing a picture of a newspaper).

Finding a job is now void of human contact. Even if you go to a store and ask for work, they point you to a small kiosk where you can post your application on-line. They frankly do not want to be bothered by physically meeting a person in order to size him/her up.

Projects are now managed by analyzing numbers, not by human contact. Studying numbers is important as it acts like the speedometer and odometer to an automobile, but they are certainly not a substitute for driving.

This to me is all rather sad as it means we have lost the common touch. In a way, it reminds me of a story told by the late Les Matthies, the legendary “Dean of Systems,” who told me the story of a little old lady who received an invoice from a company stating she owed them $0.00. Naturally, she assumed this way a mistake and discarded the bill. Next month, she received another invoice from the company stating, “Second Notice! Our records show you have not yet made payment in the amount of $0.00.” Again, she thought it was inconsequential and destroyed the bill. Another month passed before she received the next letter from the company, “THIRD NOTICE! Our records indicate you have not yet paid your bill of $0.00. If you do not make restitution, we will have no other alternative than to turn it over to our collection agency for handling.” This strongly worded letter disturbed the lady as she didn’t want to get into any trouble. Wanting to solve the problem, she decided to send a check to the company in the amount of $0.00. “There, that should solve the problem,” she said triumphantly. Unfortunately, another letter came from the company one month later stating, “Thank you for your payment of $0.00. Unfortunately, you forgot to pay the late fee of $0.00. Please remit promptly. Thank you.”

This story seems to sum up our feeling on technology in our lives today. Instead, of reaching out to people and talking with them, we prefer to go on autopilot and avoid human contact altogether.

It has long been a Bryce’s Law that, “As the use of technology increases, social skills decreases.” By avoiding human contact we compound the problem of interacting with others. Progress has never been a bargain; you have to pay for it. We may have invented some new and imaginative ways to communicate and access data, but the price is the loss of common sense and being able to work effectively with people.

Technology may improve efficiency in some areas, but may cause crippling problems for those whom it was intended to support, be it the prospect, the customer, the vendor, or the employee; you know, the human-being.

Keep the Faith!

P.S., Be sure to see my video, “The PRIDE Renewal Tour,” on YouTube.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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Tim is a writer and management consultant located in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

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