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Why brands need to make 2019 their most human year ever

9 January 2019

From Fast Company:

As we kick-start the new year, it seems that every conversation we have about the future of business centers around automation, artificial intelligence, chatbots, and the like. All of these innovations streamline our ability to connect with our coworkers, our customers, and our broader communities. However, they move us even further away from real human connection with the people who matter most.

These days, customers are more likely to interact with bots than with humans. Coworkers often work at home as part of distributed teams, and community organizations talk to their members more often on social media than in person. We can’t turn back the clock on progress but we can–and should–counteract the harmful elements of these (mostly positive) innovations with a conscious effort to be more human in every aspect of our day-to-day lives.

. . . .

“Technology has created the illusion of connection, but overuse and misuse of it has made us less productive, less engaged, and lonelier,” says Dan Schawbel, author of Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation. While technology is changing how we work, it’s also eroding our connection to coworkers.

. . . .

There’s no stopping the AI freight train. According to a study done by Narrative Science, 61% of businesses implemented AI in 2017, compared to just 38% in 2016.

But chatbots can’t win over customer loyalty. That comes from the happy by-product of the kind of human-to-human interaction where knowledgeable and empowered customer service professionals solve problems for people creatively and quickly. Not only that, but those professionals tailor solutions to individual needs. Think of companies like Zappos, Ritz-Carlton, JetBlue, and Trader Joe’s. None of them became customer-service rock stars by building bots.

. . . .

Every brand has a community–both online and off–and brands make a strategic error if they only connect with their community’s members when there’s a problem. Brands need to stay engaged and connected consistently by practicing the kind of constant generosity that creates strong emotional connections with their broader communities.

. . . .

The online pet retailer, Chewy, sends handwritten holiday cards to customers and sends sympathy gifts when a pet dies. Sure, it’s over-the-top and probably pretty expensive. But in April 2017, Chewy was acquired by PetSmart for $3.35 billion.

The point is, sending a few handwritten notes might not directly lead to an increase in valuation, but you’ll be well on your way to distributing a strong message to your community that your company is filled with living, breathing humans who care about other humans. And in this hyper-digital world that we all now live in, that’s what’s going to set your business apart in the long-term.

Link to the rest at Fast Company

PG notes that each author is also a brand. One has different expectations when considering an Agatha Christie novel than one does while viewing a J.K. Rowling book.

More than a few successful indie authors use their newsletters, blogs, etc., in ways that encourage a personal connection between themselves and their readers. PG has seen enough different communication approaches to conclude that an individual style is a plus for the author’s brand.

Brand management is an activity that a great many successful businesses take very seriously. The titles of some prominent brand management books provide insight:

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5 Comments to “Why brands need to make 2019 their most human year ever”

  1. A little tangential to the subject matter of the OP but I’m getting annoyed at all this modern talk of AI when nothing involved can really be compared to natural intelligence. I wish that some other terminology had evolved and left AI for Skynet and Mike from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

    What we are seeing is a host of disparate computerised tools built to carry out tasks which could previously only be done by humans but where ultimately nothing that deserves the name intelligence is involved. Mind you this already applies to quite a few customer service operations that are manned by humans whose managers have programmed them to act like robots.

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