November 3, 2016

"Touch versus Tech' - a Cardinal Threat to Business Success and a Flawed Customer Experience

Before he wrote The Empathic Enterprise: Winning by Staying Human in a Digital Age, global business performance consultant Mark Brown was one of many independent advisers helping firms and individuals improve their business performance via leadership development and executive training.

Mark wasn’t always as fully intellectually engaged as he wanted to be, but he liked his work. To expand his advisory/consulting business, he toyed with the idea of writing a book, but he wasn’t entirely sure what his core message would be.

He began working with a strategic content advisor/marketing expert, who
looked over his original idea and concluded, “You can do better.”

Mark recalls, “After we looked at the competition, I realized there were thousands of books out there on the very general topic of how to improve business performance. I wanted to create my own original material, and with my consultant’s help, I realized I had the knowledge to write about strategy. This was very enlightening, and it set me on a different path.”

This new path highlighted Mark’s realization, garnered through his consulting work, that the casualty in an era of increasing reliance on technology was the human touch. After careful analysis, Mark concluded that in several industries, people wanted more human touch, while in other industries, they wanted less.

This was a turning point for Mark. He decided to write about the increasing over-reliance by companies on technology, how the customer experience was suffering as a result, and the need for balance between “touch and tech.” In addition to framing a problem many were aware of but no one had defined, he offered a roadmap for fixing the imbalance. 

To further enhance his book’s marketability, Mark took the advice of his marketing coach and created an ancillary tool around his book that would get his foot in the door of prospects, an assessment grid that measured how empathic an enterprise was in meeting the “tech versus touch” needs of its customers.

As Mark had hoped, The Empathic Enterprise was the catalyst for clients to both engage and re-engage his consultancy. His book immediately garnered rave reviews from existing clients as well as prospects who approached him for help assessing and balancing their “touch versus tech” scales internally and externally.

Mark comments, “Almost immediately, the book gave me a right to sit at the table, a right to play, if you will. It moved me into a brand new space, the empathy and technology conundrum. People wanted to talk to me about this idea; they wanted me to be a thought partner with them. Basically, the book expanded my portfolio and gave me more areas where I can serve clients and make money while being fully intellectually engaged.”

Today, in the leadership programs he facilitates, Mark gives away two copies of the book “raffle style” at the end of each program. He already incorporates content from the book into these courses, and participants are always pleased to receive a signed copy. He also gives copies to potential clients and refers editors to the book as well as to his online writing when pursuing opportunities for freelance articles.

Regarding book sales, he notes that word of mouth, his personal networks, and incorporating book content into his client work in leadership and strategy have been the most effective techniques, while online marketing has been less important.

Looking ahead, Mark is in the process of developing a new expertise – coaching for innovation – and is finding interesting synergies between innovation best practices and some of the key concepts in The Empathic Enterprise. He comments, “I expect to meld those fields and resources going forward and to leverage this in my work with clients as well as in additional book sales.”

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