Leveling the Playing Field for Small Business
In the last year, everyone has learned how to use video meetings from their smartphone or computer. Click the link and get face to face — with no SPAM and robocalls. It’s so much better than phone & email.
But businesses from large to small are still putting a phone number on their website. And an email address. And a calendar link, so you can have a video meeting 3 days from now. Why not a link to video-call, right now?
If you’ve used a meeting from Join.me or BlueJeans, you’ve seen how…
And Why They Can’t….
What does a potential customer want, the first time they contact your business? It’s pretty simple. They want a knowledgeable person to listen, understand their problem, and propose a credible solution.
That’s it. The faster you can do that, the faster you can win the customer. But that’s not what happens.
Customers walk away with uncertainty. They don’t know if they reached the right person, if their problem was understood, or whether you can solve it. Let’s talk about the 5 new customers trying to reach you — and why they can’t.
One Contact Info to Rule Them All
My calendar is full of meeting links. To reach a new person or company, I click on a scheduling link. But these links are doing just a small fraction of what they are capable of.
A link can do everything a phone number or email address can do, using popular tools like Twilio and SendGrid. This article explains why meeting links will replace phone numbers and email addresses — and sooner than you think.
But Calls and Emails Don’t
Think about the last time you tried to contact a new person or company. You sent an email, called a phone number, or filled out a contact form online. And then you wait. Does anybody check that voicemail box? Did the email get eaten by a SPAM filter? Or maybe just the attachments?
You have no data to show your call or message arrived to the right person. But the problem doesn’t stop there. If the other person gets the voicemail and tries to call back — you’re not likely to pick up the phone…
How we Squared Up Contact Info
In The Innovation Stack, Jim McKelvey tells how he co-founded Square — the mobile payments company now valued at $70+ billion. Making the iconic Square card reader (that plugs into an iPhone) was the easy part. Giving small business a square deal on payment processing took an entire Innovation Stack — a whole set of interlocking inventions behind the scenes.
The book teaches startups how to pick the right problems, and create unbeatable, market-changing solutions. This article explains how my team used The Innovation Stack, and how you can too.
The first step is…
Phone & Email Don’t Work for New Customers
Millions of small businesses have the same “Contact Us” page: a phone number, an email address, and a contact form. But just try reaching them — it takes 24 to 48 hours to talk to someone who can solve your problem.
Small businesses can win if they get a knowledgeable person in front of the customer quickly. The small business owner can ask the right questions, show their expertise and propose the winning solution.
But if new customers can’t get in touch with a small business, it’s over.
The New Economy of Habits
If there’s one thing our tech industry does well, it’s training us on new habits.
Google, Facebook and Twitter started out as free services with no advertising. They spent millions of venture capital dollars training users to come back to Google, Facebook and Twitter every day. Only then did they monetize those habits through advertising.
Uber has spent billions of investor dollars training us to use Uber. Apps from PostMates to TaskRabbit are following the same path. And there are offline habits as well, like getting a Cinnabon every trip through the airport.
It Takes a Robot to Fight the Robots
The same thing happens every time you contact a company by phone, email or chat. Did you notice? A robot answers and tries to figure out if it’s worthwhile to connect you to a human.
It’s time to turn the tables. When they call, text or email you, they should get your robot, who decides if it’s worthwhile to connect them through to a real person — you. Their marketing emails, robo-texts and sales calls should hit the same brick wall that ordinary people hit when contacting a company.
The same technology…
Put a Friendly Bot Between You and the Evil Bots
Movies like The Social Dilemma and commentators like Tim Wu, Shoshanna Zuboff, and Tristan Harris have shown that the phones, apps and websites we use are doing collateral damage to our mental, physical and financial health.
They tell a strong story about the harms of our current tech, but their story about how to fix it is a lot weaker. I’m proposing a radical new kind of solution. Small, scrappy companies are already building the first pieces. It’s just crazy enough to work.
I interact with 100+ user interfaces (UI’s)…
Reverse Compatibility Is the Missing Feature
Most adults use at least one of the popular messaging apps like WhatsApp, (Facebook) Messenger, or business messaging tools like #Slack and Yammer. Everyone has a powerful smartphone in their pocket. The usefulness of email and phone are collapsing— most calls and emails are now sent by robots trying to harvest a human’s attention.
But I still get business cards with a phone number and email address on it. I still verbally tell people my phone number, so they can text me, so I can text back with my email address. Hopefully I’ll get…