Keeping business personal in the digital age

A smiling woman sits on couch in her home conducting Amway business on a tablet.

Business used to be conducted with a simple handshake. Things have changed in this increasingly digital world, but has it all been for the better?

Not everyone thinks so. That direct human interaction has become harder to maintain in an era when orders are placed with a click and a text announces your package has arrived.

Even so, the interest in keeping the personal touch remains high, according to the 2018 Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report (AGER). The report, now in its eighth year, is based on interviews with 50,000 men and women across the globe and is intended to foster conversations about making entrepreneurship more accessible.

In the United States, 78 percent of AGER respondents said they prefer personal customer service rather than electronic. At 81 percent, that preference for conducting business in person was even higher among women. U.S. respondents also showed a preference for socially-oriented businesses (57 percent) over profit-oriented ones (43 percent).

Customer choice

So how do entrepreneurs take advantage of technology while keeping interactions personal? The answers may lie in one of the age-old truisms of business: The customer is always right.

Customer A may prefer to place all orders online. Customer B may want to begin every transaction with some friendly chatting on the phone. A successful business owner will accommodate both. In fact, technology (in the form of a smart phone) makes it possible to handle both customers from a single device.

Here is something else successful entrepreneurs remember: Behind every text, email and online order is a human being who expects great customer service even when not standing right in front of you.

There’s even a term for the techniques to maintain excellent customer service electronically: e-care.

Adapting to a new era

A 2016 study, “Defining Future of Customer Care in the Digital Age,” published by customer service association SOCAP International, makes the point that “new customer behaviors, increasing automation, and sophisticated digital channels (including Social Media) are triggering the eCare evolution.”

Multiple studies indicate that the future of customer service will require finding a balance between interactions online and “in real life.” In a white paper published by content marketing firm mThink, Stephen Diorio, founder of IMT Strategies, argues that businesses need to find new, interactive approaches to building customer loyalty.

“Competitive, economic and market pressures are forcing all companies to create electronic marketing and commerce capabilities,” Diorio writes in “E-Care – Extending Customer Care.” “In order to grow faster and reach more customers, businesses need to combine a wide variety of online and offline channels into complex hybrid distribution systems.”

Support systems

All this may be daunting to aspiring entrepreneurs who never heard of “complex hybrid distribution systems,” let alone have the resources or expertise to establish such a thing. But that doesn’t have to be a barrier to launching a business. In fact, it’s one reason direct selling might be an ideal option.

Reputable, established companies, like Amway, have a built-in infrastructure to help their Independent Business Owners provide excellent customer service.

From training and mentorship to constantly updated digital tools to satisfaction guarantees, Amway provides new entrepreneurs with everything they need to maintain the highest standards for customer service.

Want to read more insights from the Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report? Click here.

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