Using technology to improve connections between people often seems like a contradiction. It is easy to picture technology as just numbers and files: big data and automated contact software. But technology actually allows Qualifirst to excel as â€œthat different kind of company that connects well with people.â€
Technology allows us to connect better by helping us perform as a food company that talks with our customers rather than talking at them.
We do not rely on a catalogue or samples to make a sale. Instead, we visit our customers simply to talk with them about their business, their challenges and their successes. By talking as peers, we find that we are able to make a few suggestions. Eventually this inspires them to explore our products online, at their leisure, when it is most convenient for them.
Here is how technology helped our Corporate Chef Suman connect to a top executive chef in a major hotel:
During his first visit, the executive chef started very negatively, and simply requested that Suman drop off the samples and the catalogue and then leave. Suman told him that he had neither with him, since he was not there to sell. He stated he was just visiting to say hello and to talk food.
The executive chef’s attitude changed immediately, and the brief meeting turned into a two-hour long conversation. They talked about the chef’s restaurants, his banquets and, of course, great food. With a food and beverage volume of over $30 million a year, the Chef had much to talk about.
A little later, Suman received the following email:
â€œHey Suman, thanks for stopping in today. I enjoyed our chat and learned a few things as well. I did take a look at the Qualifirst website to locate some of the products we talked about. I’ll pass them along to our purchaser or email it in myself. I look forward to hearing from you again with some thoughts and marinade ideas.â€
In our business, a chef may ask for samples. A chef may want to see a catalogue. The reality, though, is that samples and catalogues can be a barrier because they stand in the way of learning about the customer. They are an excuse to keep a meeting short and unsuccessful. The request to â€œplease drop off and leave…â€ makes it all so simple and convenient â€“ and a waste of time for everyone.
Suman did not have to worry about making the sale because he knew he had a great website that the customer could visit later, after a genuine connection had been made.
Our website is not mostly about E-Commerce
The moral of Suman’s story forms a major part of my vision for Qualifirst: having the best website is not mostly about E-Commerce . It is about using technology to free people up, so that they can connect with customers as people. The connection must show that we care about our customers, and that we are peers in the business. That is how technology makes connections.