Tag Archives: Idea

Business from the Future – Eliminating the Sales Department

I Despise Most Traditional “Sales” Methods…

It’s because I think too much like a customer. Even when when I’m working for the company in question, I purposefully maintain the delusion of merely being a regular customer.

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I pretend to be the customer, so that I am completely fair, honest, and effective at enhancing products and services.

I don’t have the cognitive biases associating with being an employee.

It’s not in my best interest that a product is perfect, so I can clearly point out weaknesses:

  • I haven’t invested a year of my life creating a product I conceived of.
  • I haven’t spent millions of dollars building it.
  • I am not a fanboi.
  • I don’t subconsciously invent excuses.
  • I don’t like going through the experience of some random person making me feel pressured.
  • I certainly don’t care what his personal opinion of which product is better, since I’ve already spent 3 hours online “being Colombo” about all the potential options.
  • My mind is 90% – 97% made up, before I take a single step into the store.
  • Replace Salesmen with Consultants or Advisors

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    Customers certainly don’t want to feel pressured. Hold up, though, that doesn’t mean to eliminate the staff:

    Instead of salesmen (whose primary objective is selling a product), employees will be helpful consultants (whose primary objective is to ensure that the customer has the best experience possible, even if it means losing a sale):

  • To ensure that the customer fully understands the product.
  • To answer any of their questions.
  • To help them make decisions.
  • To ensure that every customer connects with a product that will enhance their lives in some way.
  • Chris Hoeller

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    Driverless Car of The Future

    This rough concept, based on mixing driverless car technology, deeply embedded systems, and a radical design concept (that involves rotating front seats) shows what’s possible for the next generation of automobiles.

    It’s pretty straightforward:

    Driverless Car Technology

    The car is completely driverless, using a mix of radar and GPS technology. This technology is already developed and is in the beta testing phase.

    googlecar

    Embedded Systems

    The car has embedded systems (what some now refer to as “The Internet of Things;” They both mean the same thing). It is when technology is seamlessly integrated into everyday objects, so that what you end up with is basically everything being a part of the same massive, connected system. Things like refrigerators, tabletops, or walls are all a part of the system.

    Smart_Kitchen

    Everything becomes a device, integrating technology to enhance whatever the object is, and since it is all connected, the individual components can be monitored and controlled remotely. There is essentially no difference between your TV, your computer, your smart phone, your wearable technology, a wall on your house with a screen set into it, and eventually, even your (driverless) car.

    The_Internet_of_Things

    Google (and just about every major tech company) is working on ways to do this and bring prices down. This technology becoming the “mainstream” solution for average consumers will mark a revolutionary shift in the way we experience life.

    If you are a Star Trek geek like me, think of on Star Trek: The Next Generation, where people on the ship would just say “computer,” no matter where they were, and could perform any function of the computer — right from that very spot. The computer, built into the ship, demonstrates embedded systems at partial capacity. That’s possible within a decade, if all the major players do their part.

    Eventually, everything in society becomes connected. This creates an entirely new Minority Report society (with the good aspects, not the bad).

    future-society-internet-of-things

    Radical New Design of Automobiles

    Combining driverless technology and the embedded systems, this creates options for automakers that were never conceived of. I’m not saying that this is the way all cars will be like in the future, I am merely suggesting one possibility:

    The front seats of the car can rotate to face backwards. Obviously, this option has never been considered before, because now someone needs to be driving the car. However, since that will no longer be needed, it opens up a new option available in future automobiles, actually bringing families closer together.

    With the front seats of the car rotated to face backwards, and the driving automatic, a central table or console could be used for various purposes:

    For example:

    • A centrally located console could double as a table where the family eats lunch at, together.
    • The car drives itself: a legal wine tasting, anyone?
    • A dual-sided screen mounted there, where the family could watch a movie together.
    • The dual-sided screen could be synced up for displaying the same image on both sides for a movie or TV show that passengers want to watch together, or each side could be used independently.
    • The kids in the backseat are playing a video game, while a parent in the front seat uses their side of the screen to look up something on the Internet, or they work on a project that they would today use a laptop PC for (not if they were driving).

    Driverless_car_of_the_future

    FYI:  I am NOT an artist and this picture is an extremely rough drawing of the concept car. However, I think it gets the point across about what could be possible in cars soon. With a car like this, it won’t matter if the driver has wearable tech or not, since the car will be doing the driving.

    The Future is Coming Soon

    These technologies, individually, are in a mere testing and cost reduction phase, so it is not as if anything is that far off from happening. The technology needed for this radical design of a car is available now, it has just never been considered due to the current need for a driver to drive the vehicle. With the driver out of the equation, this concept and a variety of other radical concepts become a realistic possibility.

    Technology Removes the Humanity from Society… and Then Brings it Back Better Than Ever

    This example proves a major point that I have pushed for a while now that most people have a tough time believing:

    For a time, technology will make society less social, individuals glued to their smartphones checking their Social Network updates or playing games. However, once we reach the next phase of technological innovation, we will be able to use technology to not only bring society back together, but enable us to do things together that were never imagined.

    Automatic Technology

    This is another concept that will evolve as a result of these devices having technology integrated into them. I call it automatic technology: a device’s ability to “know” where  you are and what you are doing, and it intuitively and automatically switches “command” over from one system to another.

    Imagine:

    • You wake up, and check the built-in display in the wall for today’s weather.
    • Your refrigerator let’s you know that the milk you purchased on Tuesday is going to expire soon and automatically sends a reminder to the core system.
    • You grab your Google Glasses, which automatically power on upon being touched,  and shuts down the computer system being used on the wall.
    • As you are walking to your car, your brother calls you on your Google Glasses, and allows you to speak to him via earpiece.
    • Once you enter your car, the call automatically shifts to the car’s large screen for a face-to-face chat.
    • The gasses automatically power down to save battery life.
    • When you exit the vehicle, power is automatically restored to the glasses.
    • When you are driving home from work, a reminder pops up on the car’s display, when you pass by the grocery store, that you need to buy more milk.

    Technology is a Tool: It Should Work for You, Not the Other Way Around

    The examples and possibilities of this are endless. Everything made so that going through every aspect of life is incredibly intuitive, which will make the entire society more productive.

    The Future is Closer Than We Think.

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    Why Can’t a Tech Giant like Google Have Amazing Customer Experience?

    Is a company like Google too large to make huge impacts on their customer service? I don’t think so…

    Now, to be fair, when I complained that the iPhone App for Google+was no longer working, I did get a comment from +Vic Gundotra, who “plus-mentioned” someone else (I’m assuming the person responsible for the Google+ App for iPhone).

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    The iPhone App has yet to be fixed, but I give Google major points that the person in charge of Google+ actually read my post and passed on the information to someone who may actually be able to do something about it…

    I sent +Vic Gundotra  a private message about this, thanking him and offering up a suggestion, but I don’t know if he read it or not (he never responded, but he is a busy man), but it’s not private information. It is a deeply held belief of mine, so I don’t mind sharing my advice on this post…

    Companies Make Mistakes

    Shit happens. From my many years managing in the restaurant industry, I learned that no matter how “tight of a ship” you run, occasionally the ball is going to get dropped. At my restaurant, it might be a spilled drink tray or an undercooked piece of meat. For Google+, it may be the iPhone App breaking or various other bugs that occur from time to time.

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    The two are actually a lot more similar than a lot of people realize (running a restaurant or running a billion dollar tech company). Both occur in real-time, right in front of the customer. There is no “down time” during the operating hours of a restaurant, just as there is no “down time” during the running of a social network. They can’t just magically fix all the mistakes while things are shut down and reopen the next day fresh.

    They have to stay running on all other fronts, in addition to fixing whatever went wrong. A restaurant has to continue serving all of its other patrons, and a social network has to keep functioning for all of its other users, while the problem gets fixed in the background (at the same time).

    Initiating a Moment of Truth

    This is what I used to call it when something bad happened at the restaurant. It is not a ‘problem’… it is a ‘challenge’ that gives the business an opportunity to show what they are really made of. As I said, initially, companies make mistakes (even the best companies). How the mistake is handled is what separates the weak companies from the strong companies.

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    The “problem” that occurred is an opportunity for the business to:

    1. Apologize for the mistake.
    2. Let the guest/user know that a solution is being worked on.
    3. Fix the problem (get the right food out or work out the kinks in the Google+ iPhone App).
    4. Make it up to customer/user (with restaurants, I would comp a guest’s meal, but with a social network they may need to think outside-the-box on this step).

    I was the only one that I know of that complained, but I’m sure the bug in the iPhone App affected all Google+‘s iPhone users. To make up for the iPhone App being unusable for multiple weeks, perhaps on the next App update, they could include an extra feature that is iPhone-exclusive.

    So, a way +Google+ could “initiate a moment of truth” would be:

    • issuing an official statement that explains the error
    • that they fixed it.
    • they are including an extra special feature in the next update to make up for it.

    Another way Google+ could initiate a moment of truth would be:

    • issuing an official statement.
    • that they fixed it.
    • maybe offer a couple free songs from Google Music (a way to apologize, and secretly convert iTunes users over to using Google Music).

    The fact that +Vic Gundotra  took notice of my post at all was huge for such a large company like Google… and I can infer from his plus-mentioning of someone else that it’s being taken seriously. However, Google could take it to the next level of customer experience by doing something like the examples I’ve listed above.

    I know that it is such a large-scale user base that the individual can get lost in the shuffle, but I don’t think the solutions I’ve suggested above are unreasonable for Google to do, and it would set them apart from the other technology companies by actually taking the user’s discomfort seriously, showing that they empathize with them, and making an effort to do something to make up for it.

    That’s what would push them into an exceptional customer experience level, like what you would expect at one of the Disney Parks. The “word of mouth” alone from doing something so positive would spread like wildfire on the net: “Even Tech Giant Google Cares About Their Users, Whether They Use Their Branded Smartphones or Someone Else’s.”

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    You couldn’t beat that. Just a suggestion…

    My Mind: From Chaos to Solution

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    I automatically see connections between all elements of an issue:

    • The problem.
    • The people involved.
    • The circumstances leading up to the situation.
    • The environmental factors.
    • The outside influences.
    • The potential reasons for misunderstanding.
    • The manner in which the individual elements affect each other.
    • All of possible solutions.

    All of these thought processes occur in my mind, simultaneously.

    Sparking rapidly in complete chaos.

    Bouncing off of one another, crossing paths, combining, and creating new sparks.

    An uncontrollable storm of pattern spotting, analogous connections, contradictions, divergence, and convergence.

    I can’t help it.
    I can’t explain it.
    I can’t turn it off.

    Destruction and Healing

    Different parts of my mind go to battle with each other, and then they construct new bridges to mend the dissonance they created.

    As a result, a new layer of understanding emerges that didn’t previously exist.

    Sitting atop this new layer, radiant and obvious, is the solution.

    The more complex and challenging the issue, the more useful having this ability is:

    Watching me tie my shoes or get ready to go out for the evening is amusing. I come across as a clumsy, scattered-brained moron.

    Being in the right environment is crucial.

    Now, take a room filled with the most talented people in the world, trying to solve an impossible problem or create an entirely new way of doing things.

    They may be completely stuck in a deadlock. They may be ready to give up entirely. Put me in that same room for a little while, and it’s like witnessing magic.

    Groups and a Diversity of Opinions

    Other people, especially with a diverse set of opinions, to bounce ideas off of, only multiplies what already happens in my mind.

    In a group situation, it may take some time to process and readjust the patterns of thought, based on the input of others. However, what it really provides is more elements to play with and more dots to connect: a bigger playground.

    Out of Nowhere

    Despite being the person with perhaps the least topic-oriented experience, I will typically see that one connection hidden in everyone’s blind spot.

    Somewhere in that same general area, the solution to their problem will present itself.

    Environment

    It’s quite a powerful ability, but it’s something I only can direct or shape, not something I have complete control over.

    It’s not a matter of how it’s chosen to be utilized, but where it’s placed.