How Automation Is Helping You Relate Better To Customers, Not Worse

Robots now perform 10 percent of manufacturing tasks, and that’s projected to reach 25 percent by 2025 according to a recent study by the Boston Consulting Group. This scares many people because robots and automation aren’t just fundamentally changing blue collar work, new business and marketing technology are also shifting how people think and behave.

“Historically what we thought was that robots would do things that were the three D’s: dangerous, dirty, and dull,” Ryan Calo, professor at University of Washington School of Law has stated. “Over time, the range of things that robots can do has extended.” Part of that extension is what’s happening in the realm of business and enterprise, leaving some fearful of its implications.

This type of thinking isn’t new. An insightful article in The Guardian, shares a series of quotes from the 1870s to 1915, that shows the fear of modernization has a longstanding foothold. “Apparently in 1871 the art of letter-writing was dying. It was the art of conversation itself that was threatened in 1890. ‘We live at too fast a rate.’”

Along with that is an argument that all this tool-enabled work is making business transactions and relationships less and less personal. But some today’s marketing advances are genuinely helping trigger human behavior. They’re matching needs with products and services, bringing people with similar interests together, facilitating relationships, and more. These are some ways it’s happening.

Matching opportunities to needs. iBeacon and Bluetooth low-energy sensors for restaurant chains and service industries are opportunities to prompt better customer service and efficiency. A restaurant beacon can help streamline queues, and can be used to trigger a passerby’s smartphone with a promotion to lure him inside. A diner could be prompted to settle her bill using mobile payment. Affording marketers a wealthy opportunity to push their products and services.

“We recognize we’re in a tech age and we’re leveraging technology to streamline our services and automate repetitive tasks,” said Stefan Kiryakov, CEO of SYK Cleaning. “This has opened more opportunities to us and helped us better meet the needs of our clients.”

Bringing people together. Checking into a hotel or an event has now become an opportunity to network with likeminded folks thanks to mobile and GPS technology. What historically is an aimless venture into an open crowd, or an evening alone, has become a more targeted and valuable use of time with social networking tools that bring together people who are there to do so.

Nurturing customer relationships: Marketing automation providers like Hatchbuck regularly cite how the human relationship can be strengthened, not deteriorated, by technology. Done correctly, automation doesn’t suck the human element out of business. In fact, it can augment it by giving owners and marketers better information about their prospects so that they can get into real, authentic conversations.

Employee engagement. The motivators and activators of gamification are helping draw record productivity from employees at companies like Delta. So much, in fact, The Gartner Group project 50 percent of corporate innovation would be “gamified” by this year, as the technology has been proven to motivate both employees and customers.

In the end, it’s not the fear of modern automation that we should marvel at, but rather, the alignment of human behavior we serve to gain from it. What is clearly a win for providers, is also a genuine win for users.

This post originally appeared on Forbes

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