When Business Technology Backfires

panic with down arrowsWhen technology backfires, the results can get really ugly. Rather than building business, the best laid plans can cut you off at the knees.

If you’ve ever upgraded your technology infrastructure, you’ve probably researched the field, and selected the latest elegant system which, according to the reassuring sales representative, is the answer to all your problems. Efficiency in the office has skyrocketed – interruptions have plummeted.

Guess what? Your efficient, elegant system just might be killing your business.

A true story:

A major university-affiliated medical group has a string of urgent care centers. They are promoted on a slick, professional website. A phone number is listed; the welcoming automated message talks about how glad they are to serve you. The “press one for….” phone tree guides you through multiple layers of options. The final layer gives a range of options, including “for more information, visit our website.”

So the website leads you to the phone number, which leads you back to the website. Information on both is basic. Nowhere on either the website or the phone tree is there an option to talk with or email or in any way contact a human. Ever. A second phone number in the nearest major metropolitan area is listed with the warning, “This phone number is for hours of operation and locations only.”

The system is elegant. Staff can totally concentrate on the job at hand. No one ever, ever has to be bothered by answering a phone or answering emails. This is a pinnacle of efficiency. There’s only one problem – the totally inhuman system is totally inhuman.

So I as a human consumer immediately called a competitor,  talked with a professional and knowledgeable human,  and fled from a clueless organization to one which welcomed my business.

I expect the first organization is basking in their advanced technology.  The text on the website says “call us for more information,” the phone tree says “see the website for more information.” The message they send says “run as fast as you can in the other direction; we have no idea what we’re doing.”

What land mines lurk in your systems? What is killing your business with “friendly fire?”  Pouring money into marketing is useless if customers can’t reach you. Supportive technology can be a boon to business, but be careful to know and weigh what you have lost.

Take a critical look at your systems. How easy is it for people to connect with your business and services? Take the time to go over your messages, systems and processes. Be a smart competitor. Because when technology backfires, it can be deadly in its efficiency.





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