The snow has melted for now, although a foot of snow is forecasted overnight as I draft this. The lake ice is gone, and folks are Jonesing for open water fishing. Back in the day, when my father was still with us, we fished to eat because he said so. In our home state of Minnesota, that meant we fished walleyes, which are attractive fish (there are ugly fish – catfish, carp, believe me) but boring. My mission was to fill the live well with the limit and get on to some real fishing for pike and muskies. They are ferocious, large, and powerful, and they strike the bait near the surface. My weapon of choice was a Mepp’s Giant Killler tandem bucktail shown below – orange blade, black tail. It drives them crazy! Get one or a dozen at Rollie and Hellen’s Musky Shop today. I have a collection in my basement.
The Giant Killer is technology. It’s flashy, attracts utility decision-makers and sourcing departments. But they can be like the Giant Killer – fool, hook, and catch the buyer. Technology demonstrations are always attractive, with the spinner and flowing bucktail. Buyers, or worse, their customers, get the rigid iron hook in their mouth as soon as they use it.
Outsourcing Customer Experience to Bots
Companies, in general, outsource their customer experience to dreadful technologies. They do everything possible to shove their customers into a hellish tail-spinning experience with an auto attendant or bot. Their laundry list of FAQs always sucks and never has my answer.
While feeling my way around in the dark via telephonic auto-attendants, I typically try punching zero to talk with a human, but the batting average on that is about 0.301. In my latest true story, last week, when I finally got a human in one customer experience, I was transferred, which is to say, sentenced to hell, for a question the first human I contacted could have answered. When I was again on hold, the system gave me the option to turn off the horrible hold music. Press 1. Yes! Then I was entertained with, “All of our representatives are currently busy. You are the third caller in line.” That repeated every ten seconds for 15 minutes without progress until I surrendered to Lucifer.
Translation: don’t ever try to get help from us again, punk. We know how painful it is to switch providers, and we will abuse you with pain just below that threshold.
Technology – a Tool for Humans
Technology is a tool, not a replacement for an empathetic, knowledgeable, and helpful human. Only internal tasks and functions, where the users understand the technology, should be fully automated. All external-facing interactions (customer experience) must have a speedy service provider interaction with the customer – and that costs more money than a bot, but the return is enormous.
McKinsey succinctly describes the way it ought to be:
“Each journey can be offered with a consistent approach that diagnoses customer pain points, designs the desired future state, prioritizes changes based on value and feasibility, and plans implementation using an iterative, staged approach that delivers value quickly.”
The Seller’s Duty
Whether the technology is a customer relationship management (CRM) or program tracking database, a tablet app for energy audits, or a graphical interface for an energy simulator, buyers don’t know how much they suck until they need to use them for business. Demonstrations are always flawless, slick, and beautiful. Therefore, the product is only as good as the support behind it to customize and make it right for the buyer.
The Buyer’s Duty
On the buyer’s side, at least until peoples’ brains are chipped (that won’t be me), the user must bring their game because the software doesn’t read minds. People almost always want the pasture next door. We have one client whose rule is that if it’s not in the CRM, it didn’t happen. I like that.
Go Long and Execute
In the long run, success requires execution. We call it fanatical execution. And no, we’re not in the capital punishment business. It isn’t perfect or flawless execution. There is no such thing. People and companies need to try new things, occasionally swinging for the fence, over-committing, and hitting a pop fly from time-to-time. The alternative is atrophy and death by starvation.
 I haven’t been a customer yet, but a name like Rollie and Helen’s sounds fabulous and trustworthy to me.