We are entering a time when the most effective business strategies may be the ones that are the least “sexy.” It is starting to occur to me that the revolutions of today and tomorrow may have nothing to do with cutting edge technology. Your next big leap toward better profits will be using tools that are almost too simple to notice.
It is not because these simpler methods don’t amount to much. They often form the very basis of the way we live and what makes us human. For example, The Internet is cool, but I’ll bet you use the telephone just as much and probably many times more.
Top websites are great places to get information, yet studies show we get most of our know-how from simply talking with friends, co-workers, and family members.
When was the last time you pondered the wonder of always-on electricity? Yet many Californians are finding their high-tech offices worthless without it and experts venture New York City will probably learn this lesson too later this year.
BLINDED BY SCIENCE
Our world is now so full of amazing gadgets and tech developments that we are often distracted from less impressive, but more important, influences on our day to-day lives. The glare of the new is more blinding than ever before in history.
Consider the now infamous “Internet bubble” where otherwise smart people poured billions into dot-coms that had little or no chance of ever turning a profit. There for a while, the WOW of the Internet blinded almost all of us.
As technology–working without human hands–takes over more and more of the way we do business, a very simple and fundamental force will quietly step to center stage. Millions of people will pay dearly simply to get a REAL PERSON to help them.
When machines become the standard (as they already are in many industries), customers will deeply value every moment they get with a live, knowledgeable, human who has the power to think and make changes.
HAPPILY PAYING MORE
Let’s take a quick look at the highly competitive airline industry where this priciple is already evident. Scientists working on artificial intelligence at MIT have long predicted airline reservation agents would be the first to be replaced by a computer.
If you want to get the lowest possible fare for a flight to L.A., you can log on to an airline’s web site, book you flight, check to see if the fight includes a snack, and find out if your fight is running on time before you drive to the airport. A human is only involved if there is a problem and hopefully your problem won’t be too complex.. The agent on the phone will have little power to do or say anything that isn’t scripted on the computer terminal in front of him.
On the other hand, if you fly a great deal and sometimes buy first class tickets, you can become one of the airline’s special class of customers that gets one-on one personalized service from an agent (perhaps in the exclusive Crown Room) who has been given greater leeway to think individually. She can quickly create special solutions for you problems. NOTE: I, and probably you, are happily paying more to be in this special group that gets customized help from a real person.
PUTTING THE “PERSONAL” TO WORK
Recently I moved to make my own business more personal. Too many customers were having to settle for email-only communication with me, mostly because email is so much faster than talking on the phone or meeting customers in person.
More than a few customers quickly informed me this was a problem, so I hired three very capable marketing experts to answer our phones and take time to explain, help, and craft personalized solutions for anyone who calls. We can also take more time to give folks individualized email replies.
Guess what? While a lot of our dot-com neighbors have had to dump their employees and even Alan Greenspan says the economy is flat, our sales are improving. I’m even thinking about creating services that are MUCH more expensive (in a recession!). Because they will include very personalized service, some customers will be delighted to pay more.
The lesson is simple. No matter how much glitzy technology we use, humans will still respond best to humans. Give your business or career a permanent leg up. Look for ways to give your customers the benefit of your human personality and brain power. No machine will ever be able to duplicate it.
About the author
Kevin Nunley provides marketing help, copy writing, and popular promotion packages. See his 10,000 FREE tips for promoting your business or career. Reach Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org.