Originally published in the Boulder Daily Camera and the Longmont Daily Times-Call.

You may know that a brand is defined by the customer’s experience and that the experience is delivered by the employees. So, how are you doing?

Worthwhile communication between humans requires a certain touch. In fact, the word communicate is derived from the Latin “communicare” which means “to share”. How we communicate is evolving, but the more complex our systems become, the more important it becomes to focus on the experience.

For many years one of our family traditions has been to attend a Rockies game. One year we found an upscale restaurant with a fabulous view of the ballpark. We enjoyed the experience, but wondered how we could get better seats in the future. Window seats, we were told, require a reservation. This year, a few days before the game, I called to make our reservations to ensure our spot. We were all looking forward to the experience. However, when we arrived, we were told that only season ticket holders may have seats by the window. Really?  Needless to say, we were disappointed.

As we were being seated in the back, a lovely woman approached our table. She indicated that she had seen what happened to us and she invited us to sit with her group down next to the window. We thanked her and said we were fine but she said, “No you aren’t. You wanted to experience Coors Field from where I’m sitting, and I want you to have that experience as well.”

We joined her and her delightful friends. It seemed as if we’d known each other forever, and our experience was almost magical.  Imagine our surprise when we learned that the lovely lady was the widow of one of the original owners of the ballclub. She explained, during our lunch, that she always felt that the experience of Coors Field was as important as the game itself. That is why she reached out to us.

Over the years I’ve conducted many, many focus groups for clients. No matter what the topic is, the “experience” is what participants zero in on when asked about why they support or do not support different businesses or organizations.

We know that it is important to ensure that our customers and clients are satisfied. We understand that much of this is based on their experience with us. So, why do so many businesses fail to make this a priority?

Fewer humans are now involved in our daily lives thanks to technology and the ability to perform tasks once done by individuals. This creates many positive results in terms of reliability, cost savings and predictability. More people may be serviced through online presences, call centers and new technologies.  However, this trend increases challenges in other areas.

A recent article noted that, “As with robotics and automation, AI may complement a job and eliminate routine menial tasks. But it is still early days, and over time fewer people may be needed to complete jobs they now take great pride in handling with their brains, not their backs”

Opportunities exist for businesses to really hit it out of the ballpark in terms of human engagement. The more we make human communication and engagement a priority, the more likely we are to connect and develop customer loyalty. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t move forward with technological advances, but it does mean that focusing on what makes us human is more likely to connect with individuals in a meaningful manner. When this happens the results are often breathtaking. Developing and maintaining human connections doesn’t cost money.  But, it does require a certain touch. A certain experience.

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