Automation is there to free up time for the human touch
Derek Sivers has a great take on the human touch in tech startups:
Ah! I get it. I smiled and pointed to my ear.
“No software. I just listen to everything that comes in, and recommend other good stuff like it.”
Now they looked confused. “But how will that scale? You can’t just listen to every single album! What will you do when you start getting a hundred albums a day?”
I'm a big fan of the personal touch - of human intervention, as Derek calls it. Of allowing time to directly interact with customers.
And I also love automation and systemization - when a particular question has popped up more than 2 or 3 times I'll usually start looking for a software fix for it.
The holy grail for me is to use just the right amount of automation in just the right places so that it frees me up to add the personal human touch of interacting with my customers. I find that when I don't have to waste time on petty stuff, and when the process of interacting with my customers is smooth and easy, I do it a lot more and enjoy it a lot more.
One of the things I love to do is record a personal screencast that shows my customer exactly how to do something they want to do. It adds instant connection. The smoother that process is for me, the more I do it.