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The Great Disconnect – Why do customers feel so disconnected in the connected world?

Major changes in consumer behaviour, much influenced by the pandemic and hybrid work, cause confusion in companies about how to reach prospective customers. Our advice is to focus on customer connections.


Annika Konttinen

lehtori, matkailuliiketoiminta
Senior Lecturer, tourism business
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Anu Seppänen

lehtori, markkinointi ja viestintä
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Published : 07.11.2022

The internet and social media have revolutionised the way we communicate. People use digital tools to connect with family members and friends, and to interact and chat with people around the world. Friendships are just a few clicks away and the news about current events in the world are available to all as they happen. Knowledge is widely shared with others and learning takes place online.

Clicking for connections causing concerns

Human beings are social by nature. Thus, it is no surprise that various tools have been introduced to create connections in modern times.

The influence of digital platforms has surpassed more traditional methods of communication. Landline phones and letters are almost forgotten. We no longer rush to the mailbox in the morning to read the latest news or wait for television news broadcasts in the evening. There is no need to commute between home and school, grocery store or gym. Our world has turned virtual.

As we have become more connected to our digital devices, we have also started to disconnect from the real world. However, among the basic psychological needs, as addressed in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, is our yearning for connection, love and belonging.

The more information is being shared on social media networks, the less privacy we seem to have. Constant checks on whether a person, business or content is authentic, hunting down false information and fake news, is a daunting task. Sitting still for long periods of time, glued to our smartphones while watching dance or dog videos on TikTok, we may even forget bedtime.

Digital detox for conscious connections

Spending more time on social media has made us realise we may in fact waste a lot of time. It is impossible to pay attention to the thousands of connections on Facebook and Instagram. We become stressed about the fake idea of other people having a better and more beautiful life than us.

Even in real life encounters, phubbing (ignoring someone you are with and turning your attention to your phone) is a serious barrier to meaningful communication. As a result, we have started feeling nostalgic about the good old days when life was rich and deeper in personal experiences and relationships.

The concept of “digital detox” has been introduced to help us rethink our relationship with screens. It means taking a break or reducing time spent on digital devices and investing in interacting with people in real life activities, such as walking the dog, cooking and playing boardgames with the family or playing sports and attending events with friends.

Most of us enjoy face-to-face interactions and being able to touch someone. Body language and gestures speak more than words. Emotional connection is important in building trust. Privacy is vital in maintaining social boundaries and managing reputation – that is, how other people see and feel about us. A healthy choice is also to have a good night’s sleep and celebrate moments of rest without constantly exposing ourselves to the blue light produced by smartphone screens.

Concentrate on a connected customer community

Customers crave deeper connections. They are digitally drained and bored with their usual online and social channels. Distanced from their peers and businesses, customers are spread in a hybrid world, making it difficult for companies to reach them.

On top of all that, customers distrust companies and are afraid of issues relating to data privacy. The digital world does not offer one-click solutions after all, and consumers find it more challenging to engage with companies, and vice versa.

Major changes in consumer behaviour, much influenced by the pandemic and hybrid work, cause confusion in companies about how to reach their prospective customers. Rather than focusing on customer management, companies should now focus on customer connections.

The companies that want to succeed in this new world are the ones that enable deeper connections with and between customers. Indeed, a connected customer community is something that the businesses thriving in the future should be focusing on right now. It is vital to be easily approachable, authentic and to acknowledge the sentiments of the customers.

Back to the basics of knowing the target group and its values and wants! As always.