Marc Compeau, Contributor
We used to stop at newsstands, grab the paper to catch up on the world – and take a moment to get an update on the life of the familiar face that sold us the daily news. We used to run to the video store on Friday night, grab a new release for the family and catch up with neighbors while we waited in line. Board games with the family filled Saturday nights and a drive-in movie was a treat that the kids bragged about on Monday morning at school.
Today it’s cell phones and on-line games, Google a movie and download it immediately. Smart phone notifications tell us immediately if something happens, the morning paper is old news.
Instant gratification is convenient and technology is progress that we embrace; why would anyone want anything less? Once you have a smart phone you can’t imagine living without, but are we sacrificing something in exchange for faster, smarter, newer?
While I waited for new tires to be installed this weekend I had a 45-minute conversation – with a stranger – and it was awesome. I learned new things, had a story to tell my family at home and the time passed quickly. But I had to tuck my phone away to do it and that meant no Facebook updates, no Twitter feeds, no Angry Birds, just conversation. And it felt great.
Life is busy for small business owners – you must keep up with the competition. You are constantly asked to find a new way to get you products and services to your customer, faster and cheaper, because that’s what we need to do to make them happy, right? Of course, your small business needs to integrate technology into your offerings; it is a survival necessity. But the advantage that so many small businesses have – the one most often overlooked – is the direct relationships you have with your customers. Relationships can’t be made using technology; relationships come from conversations and experiences and relationships lead to loyalty.
Put down your phone, look up from the monitor and say hello. You might be surprised what happens next.