Recently a friend of mine announced that he has sold his business and is retiring. Good for him! We knew each other through a hobby we share and we never talked business. At least, hardly never. He knew what I did for a living but his investment in computing was minimal so we never talked about it much. As far as I knew he had two computers – one for the bookkeeper in the office and the other at home which he shared with his wife. Since he was winding down his involvement in his business for the last few years, he was unlikely to invest in technology. So why am I talking about him in my blog? His success in business and how these traits can be supported by technology.

From what I could see he was successful in his business through the application of two basic principles: a high quality product and customer communication. Being the type of fellow that he was, I would suspect that he knew every customer by name. He never seemed to be too busy to chat with folks, either over the shop counter or at lunch or during many of his social interactions. He had his own social and business network which he used to communicate with people, many of whom were his customers or would be some day. Not only does he like to talk, but he’s a great listener. Now what does this have to do with technology? People like to talk with people and customer communication is key to a successful business. Technology can support this and make the experience richer and bear fruit – if used properly!

My friend comes from the generation where face to face conversation (face-mail?) is how they communicate… that is the medium they use for their social networking. On the other hand, many people, the younger generation, the digital natives, use technology to communicate. The business need for communication has not changed, but how we connect with each other has expanded to include everything from cell phones, text-ing, email, discussion groups, blogging, instant messaging, and all of those other Web 2.0 related technologies.

Does your enterprise or small business provide these opportunities to your staff and your customers to talk to each other? Or do you still rely on face-mail? Isn’t it time to move on these new technologies and use them as tools to support the basic human need to communicate?

Dean Owen

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