How to Set Your Business Up So You Never Have To Actually Talk to Anyone

I’m guessing the headline for this post brought you here for one of two reasons – you were curious or you were dismayed by the thought of it. And I’m okay with either, but one of you is going to be disappointed.

human touch

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

See, technology has indeed brought us to the point where we can actually run a business, sell a product and serve a customer without the need for human interaction.

This is a glorious thing, right? By throwing off the physical bonds of storefronts, employees and office hours many people have been able to carve out a non-traditional living that wouldn’t have been possible just a few short years ago.

While this is a positive thing for some, it’s also created an opposing opportunity for smart marketers to seize.

You can set up a business so you never have to actually talk to anyone, but the more we engage in automated contact, the more we crave human contact.

As our daily business transactions become cold and machine driven, we seek out and are far more receptive to the kinds of real life interactions this very convenience walls us from.

Think about a typical marketing related engagement these days. You get an email urging you to sign up for an online seminar. You fill out the form, get an email confirmation, miss the call because you know you’ll get the recording, download the recording and put it in a digital folder where it sits today unplayed.

Heck, I do this all the time, so there’s no judgment here; it’s simply the recognition of reality.

So, where’s the opportunity in that? What if we started adding human engagement back into our automated routines? What if we starting shocking people by asking them what they wanted? What if we took the time and energy to warmly greet and welcome people into our communities?

Let’s go back to the online seminar above. Imagine if you enrolled in that online seminar and then received a call thanking you, confirming the time zone conversion for you and offering you some material that would make the call even more useful.

Something tells me you’re gonna be more likely to attend that call and pay just a little more attention to what’s being said and offered.

Now, let’s say you sign up for that session, but couldn’t make it, and then received a call letting you know where to get the recording and how to get the transcript as well. Again, I’m thinking you’re going to respond simply because nobody does that.

Not everyone wants a phone call from you, but a growing percentage of people will be open to contact and so taken by the effort they will feel a sense of obligation to see what else you’ve got in store for them.

And that’s the point – this being human stuff means you’re going to need to raise the bar on everything.

This is one simple example of how you can turn the tide of technology numbing marketing to your favor by being that company that actually delivers value and shows appreciation for every single member of your community.

You can build and add human touchpoints as internal systems initially and as you perfect them and grow use external resources to scale.

This is how you stand out today and this is how you stay close enough to your list of customers (people) to discover what they need and want and how to turn your best customers into raving fans.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Jeff Swan

    This sounds like an excellent idea: “and then received a call letting you know where to get the recording and how to get the transcript as well.” Solid for customer service and ‘humanizing’ your marketing, but also an excellent opportunity for lead generation!

  • Phil Gordon

    We are guilty of this too. Before taking the DTM course, we tried to be very efficient, resulting in our business being a “vending machine” for our social services product. Since completing the DTM course, we have added a series of touch points to build a relationship with new customers. It is much more work, but we are building stronger bonds and providing a higher level service.

  • Kerry J.

    I agree! nowdays if you’re a businessman you need to put you’re 101% of you’re patience and time in taking care of your business however if you’re a business and you have a bad marketing, I think this marketing strategy is a good way idea!

  • Timothy Howse

    I agree with you. The human touch is missing in so many online businesses. I am often very receptive to companies calling me immediately after I purchase a new product or sign up for a new service…and often willing to spend more money with them. It’s amazing how few online companies actually do it, though.

  • Nate Anglin

    Excellent point John.

    This is exactly why most people HATE calling large corporations. Press 1, 3, 4, 9, then press # 2478 for customer service. It’s a little absurd but then again with growth comes less flexibility. The human touch isn’t just missing in online businesses, it’s still missing in most industries whether online or brick and mortar. The human touch builds upon the relationship were trying to create with our clients. No true, lasting relationship is solely built on automation.

  • Andrea J. Stenberg

    I think it’s particularly true of social media marketing. Too many people think they don’t have to talk to people anymore because they’re on LInkedIn or Twitter.

    However, a successful social media marketing campaign means you get to talk to more people. But the bonus is you get to talk to people who might never have discovered you and your business otherwise.

  • OBVAVirtualAssistant

    Hi John, this is a very touchy post. If we have human touch then it is going to bring you a step closer to success. Success is the power which should be shared so you can gain more. This post is indeed a small step towards humanity also.

  • Steven Moody

    It is an accident of history that small marketing companies are borrowing this tactic from larger corporations, and the consumer has forgotten what high touch service feels like. Where is the Amazon customer service? Where is the Google support line? We allowed corporations to lower the standard for quality so low that an ATM interaction is more comforting than talking to a human bank teller.

    Thank you for the reminder to bring back high touch. It doesn’t scale and thats okay.

    • Clint Wilson

      Good point @sjmoody:disqus and I personally do 20+ customer calls a day which 500+ a month with our subscribers so I think Amazon or Google could easily replicate our model of high-touch if they wanted too.

      Love the ATM comment:)


  • Judi Hembrough

    Great topic, John. I agree that personal communications and interactions are being muffled by the very technology that exists in order to bring us together. Email, IM, webinars, blogs and social communities were built to add a layer to customer service and relationship building, not to replace it. We are so focused on the technology now that we’ve forgotten about the human interaction. A lot can be lost in translation with text based communication as it is difficult to express emotion and inflection. We shouldn’t completely abandon the basics of real communications—picking up the phone, visiting a customer, a personal email — so that we can build trust and enduring relationships with our customers. I think the combination of digital communications and personal communications can be a winning model for delivering great customer service. I’ll never forget my experience with Zappos a couple of years ago when I was escalated to a live chat to return a pair of shoes and the customer service rep not only assisted me in the friendliest way possible, but pulled up my purchase history while talking with me and informed me that I qualified as a VIP member with lots of benefits. Guess where I buy most of my shoes now?

    • Clint Wilson

      Worth the read Judi Hembrough and I have onboarded most of our Enterprise customers which is what makes me love my job, the human interaction element.

      Since our success has finally caught up with us we are now offering that same experience to our free subscribers too.

      I think that even a startup can do these personal touches as you mention above like, “picking up the phone, visiting a customer, a personal email — so that we can build trust and enduring relationships with our customers.” as this is core to why businesses help others with a need.

      Great read:)


  • Britton Connell

    Great blog. You should read the article “Business Marketing Focuses on Your Target Audience”.