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Miti Ampoma, an award-winning communications expert, explains what is at stake when you lose sight of what matters the most in business: your people.

In today’s volatile world, trust is the most powerful, valuable and yet elusive business currency.

I’m sure this is because we’ve lost our way in terms of how we value people. Not only those who we serve, our customers and shareholders, but also those who work with and for us. Yet we all share essential qualities that make us human, whatever our job title or take-home pay.

We all like to be treated with respect; we like to be trusted and valued; we thrive when we know we’ve been heard; and when we have the chance to connect with others. So why do so many businesses prioritise technology and process over direct human interaction? Why do they embrace technology at the expense of their people?

By doing so they risk failure. Because to secure long-term sustainable success, your order of priority should always be people first, with process and technology working to support them.

The way forward

The style and tone for how a business communicates is set and led by its leaders and managers – those of you in the C-suite or who aspire to be there soon.

The most effective leaders see the potential in everyone. They look beyond someone’s job title or role as a customer or investor to see the real person. Being human in this way, showing compassion and consideration, is not a sign

of weakness. Rather, it’s a formidable strength. A brilliant example of this is the handwritten letters that helped technology company Celonis grow from start-up to a $1billion business in seven years.

While the company wasn’t built on these letters alone, the personal thought that went into them, and the human connection they made, certainly created the momentum Celonis still enjoys today.

Contrast this with New Voice Media’s 2018 Serial Switchers survey, which reported that businesses in the UK lost £7.1billion due to poor customer service. Yet 55% of the survey’s respondents said they would be more loyal if they received better customer service.

Where technology fits

Technology can improve how we work and connect with each other. It can improve the experience you provide for your customers.

But a fundamental requirement must be that you use technology to enhance human interaction, not replace it. I’m not suggesting you don’t embrace technology, because it is a powerful and valuable tool. But remember, it is just that: a tool. Approach technology by asking how it can enable people across your business.

The key to success in business is strong, meaningful relationships that put people at the centre, rather than systems or technology, which is something I teach as part of my Innovative Communicator (ICAP) courses.

Without valued and motivated people, any business, no matter how great its methodologies, processes and choice of communication channels, will be heading for failure – fast.

Lead image by Simon Jacobs.

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