I happened to pause last week at a pile of newspapers in my father’s house in Atlanta.
The reason: A feature article about Cisco on the front page of the March 25th business section of the Journal-Constitution.
The article was interesting. But best of all, it jumped from the front page to the inside pages of the section… which is why, on page D2, I stumbled across one of the best, common sense advisory articles on retail technology I’ve read in a long time.
Entitled “Building Self-Service That Works,” it was written by customer service and marketing strategist Micah Solomon, a fellow that, by the looks of his web site (www.micahsolomon.com) is both plenty busy and pretty damn smart.
Smart in that it’s clear, for Micah Solomon and his clients, self-service is not about the technology.
It’s about anticipatory customer service, the type that aims (like the Ritz-Carlton) to address “even the unexpressed wishes” of guests. It’s about positioning (and delivering) self-service as one of many customer service channels. It’s about offering customer escape hatches along the decision journey – and about constant monitoring and regular review and revision.
And most of all, it’s about respecting usability as a science – one with a knowledge literature, one requiring hypothesis-driven iterative testing, one with time-proven and replicable results.
Bottom line: in Micah’s world, it appears that technology is not the destination, but the path.