Have you noticed how little actual contact you have with people?

I don’t mean social networking-type contact. In fact, as I’ve told you before, there’s real evidence that social networking causes isolation and depression. The Internet and technology and so-called “advances” have created social problems, and yesterday I came a cross an article that made me think. It was written about IT people in particular, but it applies to just about everyone.

You need to visit your customers.

This isn’t always possible, of course. I have coaching clients across the globe, and while I do see some of them in person every now and again it isn’t practical to make a habit out of in-person visits. PC-VIP, on the other hand, includes client visits as part of our protocol despite being designed as a mostly-remote service, and of course The Computer Answer Guy does traditional break/fix in-person computer support in the New York City area.

So I’ve just described three very different business models. And they all work. And the level of in-person interaction varies.

But people like to see you. They just do.

Let’s use PC-VIP as the template for navigating this issue. And let’s break it down to something simply: humans are . . . human.

People like to feel engaged. As I mentioned above, PC-VIP’s fixed-cost corporate IT services are designed to be delivered remotely—because frankly we couldn’t afford to do things the way we do otherwise. HOWEVER, each client is assigned a team of people who they not only GET to meet, but who always show up on a several-times-per-year schedule.

This means we’ve designed a service that is supposed to reduce visits . . . and then planned for visits anyway as an important part OF the service. No surprise: our clients love it.

So if the goal was to reduce costs (success!) and also stay engaged (success!) we’ve hit the mark. But it took planning to create this kind of customer service.

And maybe that’s why social networking seems so anti-social. There’s no planning.

I remember a story someone once told me about trying to meet up with a friend at an event in Central Park in New York City. Central Park is a huge place, and when there’s an event it can get crowded in a way that the word “park” doesn’t usually conjure up.

The rendezvous happened, but not until one person called the other on their cell phone—from literally three feet away. As a great as being able to recalibrate that way is, the point of the story wasn’t that there had been success; both people felt dumb.

In the days when planning was involved, we all felt a little bit more special. Plan to see your clients. Today, sadly, that’s business change. But sad or not, it works.

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