Most Australian business owners now believe that the 'personal touch' has been lost amidst a world of texting, voicemail and poorly written emails.
Servcorps' Good Business Study surveyed 457 Australian business owners and managers, and found that 65 per cent of them believe that the use of technology and digital communications means Aussies are not meeting, greeting and handshaking their partners and customers.
Almost half of those surveyed (48 per cent) admitting to spending less time meeting in person with clients and contacts than they did just five years ago.
Even more interestingly, technology faux pas have directly affected the outcome of a supplier or contract negotiation, with 78 per cent of respondents unimpressed with not having calls and/or voicemails returned, 58 per cent have received poorly written emails containing typos and grammatical errors, 42 per cent complaining about limited points of contact (i.e. no office line or address on their business card, and 34 per cent feeling they are too busy for a face-to-face meeting.
"There is no question that the use of technology and digital communications in business can significantly increase productivity and help fuel growth and expansion. However, Australian companies could be putting future growth prospects at risk by using technology in isolation -- it's becoming the default rather than a complementary tool to support businesses in everything from communication to automation," said Marcus Moufarrige, Servcorp's COO.
The survey also showed that 91 per cent of business people now use email as a preferred method of staying in touch, compared to just 64 percent of those that said face to face, 26 per cent via text message and 10 per cent via social media, such as Twitter.
While much was once made of the ability of video calling and unified comms to take the pressure off long distance travel during the recession's cost cutting, it is now appears to be becoming a cultural choice.
The vast majority of business owners and managers admitted to actively avoiding interstate travel, preferring instead phone or video calls (54 per cent) and email (25 per cent) most likely to be used rather than travel for a face-to-face (19 per cent) meeting with a client or business contact.
When asked why they are now spending less time meeting with clients in favour of digital communications, Australian business owners and managers cited a number of reasons: · Email is quicker and easier (71 per cent) · I can save money on travel (46 per cent) · Less face-to-face meetings give me more time at my desk to get work done (30 per cent) · Conference calls are more convenient (27 per cent) "In an increasingly competitive market, it's worrying to see business owners prioritising their own needs over those of their clients. Increasing efficiency is important, but nothing says more clearly to a client or prospect that they are just another item on your to-do list than being too busy to return a voicemail or receiving a rushed typo-ridden email," Moufarrige said.