Don’t trade convenience for connection

Ben Zoldan wrote an interesting viewpoint on the effect of the mobility trend, in that becoming social and mobile is eroding the art of connection and communication. On the flipside, Brian Solis, a recognised marketing expert called the latest generation of consumers Gen C in a recent article, C standing for Connected.

The truth is that connected customers or Gen-C is only becoming more pervasive in society and ultimately your economy. Now is the time to recognize how your customer landscape is shifting and to what extent traditional and connected consumers discover and make decisions differently.

But while this tackles the social media marketing and engagement model and how organisations connect to their customer market, spare a thought for the retail sector who’s Generation-C doesn’t stand for Connected but for Convenience, and unfortunately their strategies are more in line with Ben’s original viewpoint. Let me explain.

Yesterday morning I went to the local Sainsbury’s for some breakfast bits and bobs, my basket wasn’t full so there’s the convenience of the self-service checkout. The ‘real’ checkout lanes are empty and there’s a bored assistant standing there watching me scan through the items and I start to feel guiltily detached from the entire shopping experience. I used to manage a small outlet of John Menzies on a Sunday (as it was back then, it’s all WH Smiths now) and part of the fun was having a laugh with some of the regulars as they collected their batch of morning rolls and Sunday rag. And as I scanned through my breakfast and the assistant looked on it suddenly hit me that this whole scene was the complete opposite of what it was back then, that retail convenience has removed the connection that Brian was speaking about in his article. In the quest to service the customer as efficiently as possible we’ve slowly grown more detached to the human element of the experience for both the customer and the staff. 

I made the point in stopping half way for a chat about nothing and instantly that dead connective space was filled, we smiled as we traded pleasantries and I ignored the incessant beeping of the automated till. Which brings me roundabout to the point I’m trying to make here. While we’re scrabbling around trying to meet the needs of the connected customer, while we adopt every channel known to reach to them and engage on multiple online levels in an attempt to satisfy their own lust for constant connection, don’t sacrifice real human connection for the sake of a perceived convenience.


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Categories: Customer Service, Retail

Author:Theo Priestley

"I had more creative ideas from Theo in 6 months than I have had in 6 years from most people." Theo Priestley is one of the most recognised independent technology industry influencers and evangelists, ranking in the Top 100 thought leaders across Virtual/ Augmented Reality, FinTech, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things and future trends. Theo has written insights for Forbes, Wired, The European Magazine, Venturebeat to name a few, and has been interviewed for many online publications including the BBC on his thoughts on technology and the future. A regular paid keynote speaker and panelist at conferences and events, Theo is engaged for his forthright views and isn't afraid to challenge conventional thinking and the marketing hype surrounding the industry when presenting, never pulling punches to get the message across on how technology can be applied to improve business and the customer experience. He has also successfully organised and run TEDx and Ignite events. Highly active across social networks, he sits in the Top 1% for social media engagement on Kred and Klout and is constantly sharing articles and his analysis that he feels his audience would be interested in. Theo is also active in the startup community, mentoring within UK and US accelerators and sits on a number of advisory boards. Former VP and Chief Technology Evangelist at a Top 25 European enterprise software company with a career spanning both innovation strategy and delivery of software and business change in Financial Services, and as an independent technology industry analyst. Follow Theo on Twitter @tprstly or connect here directly for constant insights on tech and marketing trends. • Top 1% Influencer on Kred (915) • Top 1% Influencer on Klout (70+) • 12,000+ Followers on LinkedIn • 13,000+ Followers on Twitter • Recognised Top Influencer in AI, Virtual/ Augmented Reality, Fintech, IOT and Wearable Tech, Big Data and Analytics.

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3 Comments on “Don’t trade convenience for connection”

  1. October 9, 2012 at 3:31 am #

    Email was the beginning of disconnect flowed by gaming, social networks, etc., how often do we joke about sending an email to the person sitting in next cubical or living down the hall. I’m living in Bamako, Mali for a while, a third world city where very few homes have internet. There is so much social interaction between Malians, people are outside, kids ripping and running, people literally talking and interacting with each other, it’s amazing, any and every street is jumping with people socializing on some level. It is reminiscent of the 60’s when it was not cool to be stuck in the house, outside was the happening. Venture into any neighborhood in the States and its sterile, very few people out, those that are outside of their homes are engaged in some lonely activity such as cutting the grass or bar-b-queuing in the fenced off backyard. It is desocialization brought about by the connection we have to the internet, email, games, social networks, blogs and even television…we have become a society of techno-hermits; speaking to myself first. Don’t get me wrong, there is much good in technology, as with all things there has to be a balance. With that said…I’m going outside.

  2. October 9, 2012 at 6:25 am #

    Theo, I see most people (and organizations) go wrong when they look for a single way to approach any medium or tool as opposed to actually thinking about what they are trying to accomplish. Here is what I mean, building off of iqu, llc’s comment above.

    I get lambasted at work all the time because I will IM with someone that is literally 3 feet away from me over a cubicle wall. We can make eye contact and chat with no problem. But, sometimes IM is the best option. I don’t know if she is in the middle of something, I don’t want to disturb others around us, and it isn’t a significant interaction. So, I use IM. When she or I have a question that requires interaction (like mentoring or problem-solving), we meet at one of our respective desks for that interaction.

    Too many people and organizations want “the policy” for using a tool (IM in this example) and that is where they go wrong. Whether it is IM, SharePoint, Social Media, or whatever tool you choose to evaluate or use, most people want someone to tell them exactly what they are supposed to do. It reminds me of my favorite quote from one of our research projects here at APQC. We had someone at an organization we were studying as a best practice example say, “you can’t absolve responsibility for thinking by relying on process.”

    You can replace the word “process” with “SharePoint”, “Social Media”, “IM”, “mobility”, “connectedness”, “template”, or any other of the latest tools or trends. The bottom line is that we have to actually think about what we want to accomplish and how best to use a tool or technique to accomplish that.


  1. Don’t trade convenience for connection | Mobile Terra Firma | - October 9, 2012

    […] Ben Zoldan wrote an interesting viewpoint on the effect of the mobility trend, in that becoming social and mobile is eroding the art of connection and communication.  […]

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