Friday, November 14, 2008

Scaling up without selling your soul - Part 8


This may seem nitpicky, but how many of you love talking to a robot? After being on the phone with a robot and starting over the fifth time, I can’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t be more efficient to just hire an incentivized neighbor to answer the phone and deal efficiently with the transaction. I’m convinced that if businesses put their money in people instead of the latest techno-gadget, maybe they wouldn’t have to advertise. To be clear, I’m not talking about voice mail; I’m talking about robots.

I answered the phone the other day and a lady on the other end stuttered: “Oh, is this a real person? I didn’t expect to talk to a real person.” If I were king for a day, I would outlaw all robot phone machines. Be honest. Does anyone here enjoy hearing: “Press 1, press, 2, press 3?” We all hate it, and yet we succumb to some sales pitch and the seeming efficiency and buy into anti-human treatment. And most of us are in business to deal with humans.

If westerners are starved for appreciation, they are also starved for human contact. While I may be a farmer and technically in the food business, really I’m in the relationship business—and so is everyone in this room. Shame on me if I shortcut this human touch and force my patrons to talk to a robot.

A well trained, pleasant-voiced, empowered person can handle my frequent flyer miles redemption ten times faster than the robot. If the airlines would offer a human transaction instead of a robot, I’d gladly give an extra 5,000 miles a transaction for the efficiency and warm fuzzy. At Polyface, we’re committed to never having a robot answer the phone.
To be continued...

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