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Where Have all the People Gone?

When companies advertise their services or goods, they are looking for just one end result – sales. It’s a simple straightforward concept – it’s business. However, as companies expand and conduct more and more trade online the personal touches can all but disappear.

It seems these days that every inanimate object can speak to us. Robotic voices are everywhere, from talking elevators instructing passengers to stand clear of the doors, to cars warning occupants that seat belts should be fastened. On top of all this there are automated telephone systems that offer us multiple number choices and infuriating recorded options.

“If you have been holding for more than 4 hours and feel you need to go to the bathroom, please press 2”

Obviously, this is an exaggeration, but it makes the point that as companies grow, far from employing more people to talk and interact with their customers, they head off in the opposite direction and put an answer machine on the end of the phone, most of which tend to make callers hang up before the recording has offered them the first set of numbers to choose from.

A talking machine will not sell a product to a potential customer. Not only is it completely lacking a personality, it can’t interact with people, it can’t share a joke and it’s totally incapable of making a caller feel welcome, yet many companies inflict this type of system on the people they want to sell their products to.

It is unfortunate, but all this change is simply the world of commerce evolving and getting ever faster, and although not everyone agrees with it, most of us accept it as being here to stay. So where has the personal touch gone? Thankfully, in smaller businesses, it is usually very much alive and kicking.

The most effective communication tools between companies and customers are people, and increasingly, a growing number of small business owners are realising this and reintroducing the human factor by employing somebody simply to answer the phone.

Customers want to talk to a ‘person,’ someone who will answer the telephone without instructing them to press 3 if they prefer cream in their coffee or 4 if they take it black! Someone who takes the time to ask the right questions instead of telling them to “press 6 for all other enquiries.” People generally like to spend a few minutes
in idle conversation or banter before going on to more important issues, it makes them feel better knowing that someone and not a machine is listening to what they have to say.

Having a business website is a must for anybody who wants to trade in today’s markets, but there also has be a ‘human’ presence to compliment it. Larger companies above all should start realising this and not hide behind the Internet or their communication systems. It is human nature to want to talk, that is what language is for, and a website or telephone should not be an obstacle to that.

This article is the property of the author and may only be reproduced in its original form.

About the Author: John Sheridan is a professional proofreader of hard copy items and website copy. He also writes web copy and occasionally accepts small copy-editing assignments. He can be contacted at: Mailto website:

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