I believe it's time for us all to take a step back, and remember the value of human interaction both in life and in business. Businesses shouldn't simply depend on automation solutions or online applications or e-commerce strategies to grow and build market share. Unfortunately, it's up to consumers to demand more, and it seems that the majority are just too busy with their mobile devices listening to music, watching videos, texting, and calling, or going online to see how popular they can be on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or a Ning network. If, as a country, we've already given away our status as a producer of goods, then the burden of our domestic value and economic strength falls on the shoulders of our consumers. That being the case, we must all become smarter and more thoughtful as we consume.
Somehow, online businesses have succeeded in convincing the masses that avoiding human interaction and local contact is a GOOD thing. And that we're better off not having a local insurance carrier or bank or anything else for that matter. For a few dollar savings, we've allowed ourselves to accept that it's in our best interest to pay less and receive less service.
In the world I operate in, recruitment advertising, this issue is growing out of control. Some larger employers have become to time-sensitive, they've removed human contact from parts of the recruiting process, relying solely on applicant screening applications. Try speaking with a hiring manager at a Borders, Sears, or other multi-national giant. It's likely that you can't even hand in a paper resume any more, let alone speak with someone about the job opening to find out more. Not too long ago I asked the store manager at a Sears who looked at the applications once they were completed at the in-store kiosk. Surprise! She had no idea. If the applicant was cleared by someone "at the home office", the store would get a call to let them know when the applicant would be coming in for an interview.
Ever have a question about the validity of job postings on an internet job board? Who did you ask to get more information or confirm that the job was legitimate? I didn't think so. While I am truly proud of the success of the job boards I work with, I am most proud of our focus on the local markets we serve. I'm almost embarrassed to share this, but once I was told that the only reason an employer used our site, was that when she called, she spoke with a live person who was familiar with her account, and that we gave her assistance over the phone to help ensure her recruiting success. Since when did answering the phone and giving advice to your customers become a unique sales proposition?!
Anyway, I'm getting off track. Today I just wanted to ask everyone to be thoughtful about how you consume.
Is it good or bad to pay $10 more for a running shoe that's made in the USA (yes, there's still one company making shoes on US soil- keep up the good work New Balance!)?
It it better to physically go to the bank that employs 20 or so of your neighbors who, in turn, buy from the local grocers, attend local theater, and pay taxes to support the local schools, than it is to get an extra tenth of a % on your savings account and enjoy the convenience of using an online bank?
The decisions we make do matter, in life and in business. Whether you're buying goods, or recruiting staff, remember this: There are always unintended consequences for every action. Will your actions more likely produces positive unintended consequences, or negative?