Consider your organization’s technology initiatives over the last five years, and ask yourself:

  • What portion of our technology initiatives make it easier for customers to get closer to us? (Example: Apple lets you sign up for Genius Bar appointments online.)
  • What portion of our technology initiatives put a barrier between our customers and us? (Example: “Please say or enter your 16-digit credit card number.”)


  • Jayakumar Hariharan
    Feb 13, 2008 - 00:01 am

    Technology from a “generalist” design perspective makes things easy for customers. Technology from a “Geek” design perspective makes things tough.

    The “Generalist” perspective maps technology to consumer ease, while “Geek” technology insists on adoption of technology at the cost of consumer ease.

    Jay, from Bangalore

  • Kevin Myers
    Feb 13, 2008 - 22:50 pm

    I find it interesting that the dialogue is about technology when if fact it should just be about the median that allows us to have real and personal conversations and relationships with our customers.

    Was TV considered a technology or next generation communication and entertainment median?

    Is this Blog considered technology or next generation of broadcast emails that allow us to communicate with like minded people?

    Is the iPhone considered technology or the best communication and personal entertainment devise made to date?

    The only barrier is our fear in using these next generation communication and multimedia channels to deepen our understanding to learn…
    what motivates our customers?
    what needs can we fufill?
    what benefits do they desire?
    what products do they crave?

    I look forward to learning through this crazy thing called technology any other points of view!

    • Steve Yastrow
      Feb 14, 2008 - 10:20 am

      Kevin – Great points. What’s interesting is that the medium is not the message, it is only the medium. Technology can be a wonderful enabler of customer connection, or it can be an effective barrier between a company and its customers.

      When I can download a Hertz receipt in seconds, that is using technology to support a customer relationship. When I have to spend 5x more time to read my frequent flyer number to an American Airlines computer, to save their reservationists time, that is using technology for their convenience at my expense.

      My issue is that companies often choose the latter course.

  • Kevin Myers
    Feb 13, 2008 - 22:52 pm


    Too bad I did not use the technology called “spell-check” on last post!

  • Caroline Ceisel
    Feb 15, 2008 - 09:49 am

    In regards to Kevin’s post: I think TV was considered next generation technology – being a one-way communication tool, I believe that it was also seen as entertainment. Although I would like to point out that the first radios and TVs brought groups of people together. Family’s would interact together by listening to the radio and watching the TV. There was also more of a social context… everyone watched the same stations and would be able to talk about the same shows the next day (arguably we still have some of that shared experience with popular shows like American Idol.) More and more, I think technology has driven the ability to communicate on and individual level. And while I think computers are considered technology, I think blogs are considered a way of communication and designed for that purpose. Im not sure that technology and communication are at odds with each other.

    On one-on-one communication through cell-phones, blackberrys, blogs, IMs and email, : I always thought the proliferation of technology would alleviate stress in our lives and improve communication. However, I think that with these new tools, the expectation for response is quicker than ever. Unfortunately, it demands more fast small points of contact that I think can be detrimental. You are expected to respond, but may not be in the right state of mind to make it a good response that builds the relationship. You are expected to have more encounters in one day than ever before. And you have more, that are less engaging. Something like 80% of our communication is non-verbal… it is communicated through our movements, our eyes and gestures. Technology seems to takes that away more and more… adding in a smiley face to your instant message just isn’t the same :). How many of these new inventions actually build a relationship? How many times are you on a cal, getting call waiting and thinking about the next five you have to make? Isn’t it sometimes painful to let a call-waiting go to voicemail because you decide it’s better not to interrupt the current conversation? It’s kind of sad.

    I think that blogs are slightly different. You have time to read your response. I don’t think blogs are about relationship-building, but information exchange. I think some of the new communication technology is about information sharing. There may be residual relationship building – but without the verbal and non-verbal cues, I think it’s really more difficult.

    On the other hand, it is easier now more than ever to get in contact with someone. And that is a good thing. I guess a mix of these fast “pings” and real meetings is optimal. It just seems that more and more face to face meetings and dinners are interrupted by these pings. It seems our culture has developed this expectation of rapid immediate response.

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