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The majority of Australian business owners and managers (65%) believe that the increasing use of technology and digital communications means Aussies are losing the personal touch when doing business – according to the Servcorp Good Business Study published today.

In a digital age where companies continue to look for ways to stay ahead, new research by serviced and virtual offices provider Servcorp has revealed that too much reliance on technology could be threatening the art of good businesses – with almost half of those surveyed (48%) admitting to spending less time meeting in person with clients and contacts than they did five years ago.

Furthermore, the research has found that business owners and managers admit to being significantly influenced by technology related faux pas when choosing a supplier or awarding a contract, including:

  • Not having calls and/or voicemails returned (78%)
  • Not feeling like their needs are understood or met (67%)
  • Receiving poorly written emails containing typos and grammatical errors (58%)
  • Limited points of contact – no office line or address on their business card (42%)
  • Feeling like they are too busy for a face-to-face meeting (34%)

“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 Chief Operating Officer.

“ It’s clear that maintaining  a personal touch by being responsive, showing you have time for your clients and that you understand their needs is more important than ever. To do this, technology can actually provide a competitive edge by helping companies to service clients more effectively – but it should not be at the cost of personal, one-to-one engagement. Ultimately, like everything in business, there is a time and place for technology.”

Is there too much of a reliance on technology?

When it comes to communication, email (91%) now far outweighs face-to-face meetings (64%) as people’s preferred way to keep in touch – with more informal text messaging (26%) and social networking (10%) also playing an important role in business communications.

Despite Australia’s sprawling economic geography, the vast majority of business owners and managers also admit to actively avoiding interstate travel – with phone or video calls (54%) and email (25%) most likely to be pursued instead of making plans to travel for a face-to-face (19%) when a client or business contact requests a meeting.

“While technology undoubtedly plays a critical role in helping businesses to grow and innovate, companies cannot let its potential benefits outweigh the risks of over-reliance and not using digital communications tools effectively. Making time for your clients and providing that personal touch are fundamentals of good business, and we should be looking at ways technology can allow us to do this more,” continued Mr Moufarrige.

Is the client number one?

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%)
  • I can save money on travel (46%)
  • Less face-to-face meetings give me more time at my desk to get work done (30%)
  • Conference calls are more convenient (27%)

“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.

“Australian companies need to strike the right balance by ensuring they have the processes and infrastructure in place so they can reap the benefits of technology, while still ensuring basic business practices such as having calls answered in a personal way, or presenting a professional image, are maintained,” added Mr Moufarrige.

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Join the conversation: #goodbizstudy

The Servcorp Good Business Study is a quarterly publication based on research commissioned by Servcorp. Specifically, 457 owners and managers of Australian businesses were surveyed online by Galaxy Research on behalf of Servcorp between Wednesday, 9 October and Thursday, 17 October 2013.

For further information on the research findings, or to request an interview with Servcorp COO Marcus Moufarrige, please contact Julia Clarke, Fuel Communications on 02 8217 6505 or email.

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