The pandemic accelerated innovation across nearly every industry. Thousands of organizations scrambled to find ways to automate certain processes while striving to make everything else contactless. And, while technology, and the convenience that comes along with it, will remain a priority for years to come, businesses still need to maintain a strong customer connection in order to find long-term success.

There’s something to be learned from the businesses that were thriving prior to the pandemic sans the latest tech – a good example would be a neighborhood pizza shop that doesn’t take reservations and only accepts cash. The solid, genuine connection these businesses made with their customer base helped them forge ahead for decades. On the other end of the spectrum, there are the tech-savvy companies that optimized every corner of the business to flourish in the wake of pandemic mandates. There are valuable insights to glean here as well, showcasing the undying importance of convenience, especially when crisis hits.

Today, businesses find themselves in an interesting position as our society demands safety and convenience while also craving genuine connection. As business leaders look to incorporate more technology into their business operations and customer experience, it’s critical they strike a balance between the two. Below are several ways organizations can be tech-forward without sacrificing the connection with their customers.

Supplement Automated Communication with Genuine Outreach

Rather than using technology to replace an interaction, use it to increase communication. When you provide even more channels for customers to get support or answers – and, quickly – a business is now living out its mission of making each customer their number one priority. For example, in addition to sending out an automated text message confirming an appointment, reaching out personally via phone or text as a follow up will make sure no question is left unanswered. This is a process we started using and it has helped our customers feel more secure and has also reduced the number of cancellations and reschedules.

Choose Technology that Enhances the Customer Experience

Think about your business and its offerings and how technology can improve the brand experience. Put yourself in the role of the customer, and build out a list of features that would make the experience more efficient, convenient, secure or interactive. For example, our team recently implemented a dispatch application as part of the consultation scheduling process. This technology lets the consumer know who their specialist is, provides a map of their GPS location, shows them in route and provides real time updates leading up to the consult. By analyzing and optimizing our operations from the lens of our core customer, we were able to add this technology while still allowing for relationships to be built with our customers.

We also looked at our consultations to see where we could make the process of choosing window coverings easier and more interactive. The visualizer tool we use still allows for great conversation during the consultation, but now the customer feels even more informed and confident in their decision. When electing to implement technology, think of programs that feel like a natural extension of your business and take operations to the next level. This will make the transition well worth it for both the consumer or client, and your team.

Allow for Consumer Feedback to Help Improve Updates

It’s important to seek feedback from your consumer base that has experienced your new tech updates. This will allow you to evaluate reception, ease of use and other factors that will keep your customers happy. Afterall, nothing is worse than rolling out a new app only to find it’s frustrating your customers instead of helping. Whether it’s a star-rating or a written review, any type of feedback will help you perfect your technology to keep up with customer expectations relating to the user-experience. Make sure it’s both easy to provide and access the feedback.

Businesses are no doubt feeling the pressure to streamline operations with technology, and there’s no shortage of programs to choose from. The key to making a sound investment that will both bring customers in and keep them for years to come, is striking that perfect balance between providing ease of service, while also making a personal connection.

Submitted by Kelsey Stuart, CEO of Bloomin’ Blinds, a leading window treatment franchise with more than 50 locations nationwide. A visionary leader, Kelsey Stuart has been laser-focused on growing Bloomin’ Blinds for nearly a decade. Having been involved with the company since its launch, there isn’t a part of the Bloomin’ business model Kelsey isn’t intimately familiar with. Maintaining day-to-day contact with our franchise owners, Kelsey one of the go-to people for most of the questions that they have. When he isn’t at the office alongside his two brothers, Kris and Kevin, Kelsey looks forward to spending time with his two daughters and wife or planning for future travels.

Connection by phone stock photo by Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock