An Anecdote from our Experience in KnowDo
When Chris and I first started to put KnowDo into action, we visited every business incubator, generator (or whatever they are called) in the area of Barcelona, Spain, to find some help for launching KnowDo. During one of our visits, we attended a kind of class on how to start a business in Barcelona. We from KnowDo, together with other entrepreneurs, were astonished when we realized that the entire presentation was about how to use a website that had been appositely created to help entrepreneurs in the process of opening a new business in town. No suggestions, no tips, no experiences were shared.. nothing, except the fact that we had just been introduced to a virtual and allegedly cool business consultant that could have answered to all our unique doubts as entrepreneurs in Barcelona.
To be honest, other visits were not much more interesting, but that one will always remain an unforgettable experience for Chris and me. Out of the blue, a British guy raised his hand, “Can I ask you something?” – he said – “Can I talk with SOMEONE about opening a new business in town?” The question appeared to be legitimate, and we all expected a Yes answer; but, that was not the case. The speaker argued that no one was available to attend us, and that everything we needed could be easily found on their website. “And now that everything is clear, I will continue to illustrate you how our website works” – the speaker said. We looked each other for a bit, then the speech started again for a couple of minutes. Order seemed to be re-established.
But, once again, the British guy stood up and said, “Come on, I need to talk with someone! I need to talk with a human!! Are there any HUMANS here?!?” - That was already memorable.. - “Is there a single human I can talk to in this entire building?!?” Chris and I started laughing like kids! Chris as a Norwegian could manage it pretty well, but I as an Italian was laughing to the extent that I started crying; and, I had to run out of class for not interrupting the speech again! We still remember that moment as one of the most hilarious of all our experience in KnowDo (you may now infer we have not had a lot of fun); and, every time someone talks about “humans” in light conversations, we look each other like kids who are starting to laugh! :) The fact is that the British guy was extremely serious; that made the situation hilarious. And, actually, he also was extremely right: where the **** are the humans?!?
Some Personal Thoughts about Human Relations in the Digital Era
Businesses spend tons of resources to automate their Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and make their work more efficient. That is key in the digital era, but we always have to deal with a trade-off: the more we automate, the more we lose the human touch. Certain areas work better if automated, and machines can absolutely improve our world; nevertheless, at a certain point, we should allow people to get in touch with us, and express their unique points of view. This does not just apply to business, but to our personal lives as well. In both cases, compared to the past, a paradox emerges: we now have more and outstanding means of communication, even if it seems we actually have less time to communicate! Time itself is always the same, but technology makes us dance to a faster pace nowadays. Our cell phones are more powerful than the space-age communicator used by Capt. Kirk in Star Trek!! Social media, emails, chats are all great tools that allow us to be reachable in real time; but, are we really available 24/7?
Of course not. Still, we should remember that, at some point, we need to return calls and messages, even if we think we do not have time for doing so. We always have time; we just spend it in a different way. We value, in certain cases, what we have planned to do as more important than those who have planned to reach us; and, that can be acceptable, most of all in the short term, when we could already have a full schedule. However, if that is the case, it is better to provide a short answer (even automated, when we are not able to reply within the classical 2 business days) rather than not answering at all; something like, “Sorry, I will return to you as soon as possible”, or even “Sorry, I do not care about it.” Indeed, not answering is already an answer, and what we imply is even worst: “Sorry, I do not care about YOU.” That is why we should always leave space in our schedule to attend those who are trying to reach us. It doesn’t matter how much busy or successful we think we are both as individuals and businesses. The real success is not when others talk about us, but when they talk with us!
Everything in our lives and in this world is somehow related to the presence of other human beings; so, we can be successful as individuals or businesses, only if we respect each other first. In other words, we need to maintain a minimum amount of human touch; otherwise, we will tend to be 100 percent automated such as the aforementioned organization that did not even have time to attend its potential customers! Let us keep it well in mind, when we do not answer a call, without even calling back; when we postpone a reply to a message; when we are too busy for attending someone; when we deny help to someone else; or, when we promise a friend to do him/her a favor, then we forget about it. Actually, we have not forgotten about the favor; we have forgotten about our friend! Just as a reminder, virtual or not, this is still a world of humans, and we humans want to be loved or at least respected, not rejected or even ignored.
PS: Feel free to visit my profile page here on KnowDo, and contact me through social media. I will certainly return to you.. because I love humans, and you are among my favorite ones! ;)
PPS: I have used the expression “world of humans” just for the purpose of this post. That does not imply we humans are the only valuable creatures or even the owners of the world. On KnowDo, we care about the Environment and its protection.