When Technology Goes Too Far: How Not to Treat Your Customers

When Technology Goes Too Far: How Not to Treat Your Customers

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Man drowning in a smartphone screen

How hard should it be to order pizza? “Not very,” you’re thinking. After all, you’ve probably done it a thousand times. But sometimes, it can be harder than you expect. Consider the experience a friend of mine had last week.

My friend is a musician and was in the middle of a recording session that began to run long. The guys were getting hungry, but not wanting to totally interrupt the flow of their recording, they decided not to go out for lunch. Instead, they chose the fastest, easiest possible solution: order pizza.

None of them were familiar with the area around the recording studio, so my friend grabbed his phone and looked up the closest pizza place. He called to order a large cheese pizza, only to be told he’d have to place his order online — they didn’t take phone orders. No problem, right? He quickly went to the website on his phone, only to find that he couldn’t order a pizza without setting up an account, creating a password, etc. etc.

He didn’t want to go through all that trouble for a one-time pizza order, so he gave up on that restaurant and dialed the next one that came up in his search results. At this pizza place, he couldn’t order over the phone or on the store website—he had to go through the Uber Eats app. My friend doesn’t have an Uber account (he prefers Lyft) and didn’t really want to create one because he has issues with Uber’s management practices. “Are you sure you can’t just take my order over the phone?” he said. “It’s just one cheese pizza delivery.” But the restaurant refused.

In case I haven’t made it clear, my friend is not some fuddy-duddy with a flip phone. On the contrary: He’s a millennial who’s always got the newest tech gadget in hand, and last week I saw him get as excited as a kid on Christmas morning whenever he got a chance to use Apple Pay in a taxicab. Normally, he prefers to order pizza delivery online—but in this situation, he just wanted to place an order, hand the delivery person a $20 bill,and get the transaction done as quickly as possible.

RELATED: 12 Ways to Improve Your Customers’ In-Store Experience

Is more technology better technology?

There’s a lesson here for small business owners: More technology is not necessarily better technology. In general, I’m a big believer in small businesses adopting the latest technology. It can give you an incredible edge over small business competitors and even put you on a more level playing field with the big guys. But tech for tech’s sake has always been, and continues to be, a big mistake.

At some point in the future, we may all be able to place pizza orders just by thinking hard and blinking our eyes three times. But for now, a substantial percentage of the population still prefers to do it the way it’s always been done. If those pizza restaurants were frustrating for a tech-savvy millennial, how would a senior who only uses his computer for email feel about it? Yes, your business does need to adapt to changing times and stay one step ahead of what customers are going to want in the future. But that doesn’t mean you can leave other customers completely behind.

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