Human Connection in a Technological Society

Our well-being depends on our connections with others.

Matthew Lieberman

It’s an age-old question: how is the technology in today’s society affecting the connections we make with others?

Well, maybe it’s not age-old. The technological world we live in today is constantly evolving, and at a faster pace than ever before. So in decades past, most of us didn’t even realize we’d ever be asking this specific question.

As a late millennial, I’m old enough to remember dial-up Internet, but it also feels like it was forever ago. The majority of my tech-related memories involve more modern developments, such as social media and – of course – mobile phones.

At the beginning of the shift, I was a preteen using AOL Instant Messenger to send chats tHaT lOoKeD lYkE tHiS to my middle school classmates. And for some reason, we also liked chatting to the AIM Bots. (Hi, SmarterChild and MovieFone.) The idea that technology had advanced to a point where insentient “beings” could understand and respond to us humans in real-time was interesting and exciting.

But all of the things that have changed in the last 10-15 years, one of the biggest might be the attitude toward doing just that: talking to bots. As much as we can recognize how far technology has come, and as much as we recognize that we’re online, we’d still almost always rather talk to a human.

How many times have you called a customer service line, only to receive a list of automated options? Or the robotic voice on the other side asks you to explain your issue, as it “listens” and attempts to direct you to the correct department?

Or what about when you engage in an online chat with a business – and you can just tell that it’s a robot talking to you? (And no matter how many times you ask, “Are you a real person?” you just don’t believe them?)

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to get in contact with an actual person, especially if you’re already contacting customer service because you’re having some sort of issue with their product.

While businesses may feel that it’s in their best interest to streamline their helplines by employing these types of strategies, it often has the opposite effect when it comes to gaining and retaining consumer trust.

In fact, 88% of consumers say that “talking to a person” is their preferred method of seeking customer service (GetApp). It’s not just because it’s often faster and easier than talking to a bot. It’s because humans crave social connection. And because they’ll always trust a human more than a robot.

And while your consumers know that you’re a brand, they are still able to form emotional connections with it. They want authenticity. They want openness. They want inspiration.

Humans have always needed connection – in every society, through every period of time – and that hasn’t changed just because we’re living in a digital world.

The only thing that has changed is the ability for that connection to happen in a lot of different ways.

So when it comes to your brand, here are some questions you can ask yourself to evaluate its humanity:

What is your brand’s personality?

Why should consumers feel connected to you?

What type of interactions will you have with your consumers via social media platforms?

What is your tone and style, since the interactions aren’t face to face?

What type of community are you creating?

How are you acknowledging your consumers as individuals?

What story are you telling?

How are you being authentic?

How are you being true to your values?

If you’re feeling stuck or could use a little help, we at Brieffin are here. With mindful planning and consulting, we’ll support you as you take important steps to put the best version of your brand forward to connect with the world.

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