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Blog Post By Catherine Carter

Humanity by print

Ideo’s Paul Bennett recently gave a talk highlighting what he called the humanity by design. In the presentation he discussed a number of engaging examples of how businesses have focussed on human relationships  to communicate their message.

Among them was the story of seven-year-old Luka Aps who lost a Lego figure he bought with his Christmas money. He wrote to Lego and Richard from customer services sent a fantastic response: “My bosses told me I could not send you one out for free because you lost it, but, I decided I would put a call into Sensei Wu to see if he could help me. Luka, I told Sensei Wu that losing your Jay mini-figure was purely an accident and that you would never ever let it happen again. Sensei Wu also told me it was okay if I sent you a new Jay and told me it would be okay if I included something extra for you because anyone that saves their Christmas money to buy and Ultrasonic Raider must be a really big Ninjago fan.”

This follows an excellent Sainsbury’s customer service reply to three-year-old Lily Robinson who wrote asking why Tiger bread was not called Giraffe bread. The supermarket then changed the bread’s name to Giraffe.

These stories highlight how companies are achieving recognition for showing a more human-side, for shunning a corporate approach and opening themselves up to communicating with customers on a more empathetic basis.

Harnessing technology such as big data can also have a humanitarian impact. Here is a great piece on how it can help make a big difference to everyday lives. The collection of information has resulted in some exciting findings that could have a big impact on everything from recycling, energy use and even healthcare.

For example research in New Jersey found the 1% of patients were using up 33% of the annual healthcare costs by showing up in the ER at 2am and undergoing numerous tests. Controversially house calls, which a few decades ago would have been the norm, were introduced resulting in huge savings.

While advances in technology and the constant move towards online and mobile communication do increase a business’s productivity it is clear that we still value a more personal interaction with each other.

Today, there is a subtle shift towards engaging people in this way to manage long term relationships. And as the need for leaner operations, driven by the economic climate, means there will be no return to the lunching culture of yesteryear, there is growing interest from companies looking to develop this ethos.

If we do the same could we create humanity by print? 

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