Web v. Human: Easy or Special?

A friend of mine bought a car recently without ever stepping into the dealership.  It’s being delivered to his door.  He conducted the entire purchase over the phone and Internet.

When he walks out of his front door Monday morning there will be a new BMW sitting in his driveway. He’ll hand over the keys of his old car for the driver to take back to the dealership.  He’ll drive off to work in his new car without wasting a minute of time at the dealership.

The old days of spending hours at a dealership while the salesman went back and forth to “check” with his manager are over.  No more wasted Saturdays.

Car buying isn’t the only experience that’s changed.  Think about your last purchase, did you spend more time on line, on in the store?  If you’re like most of us, you do your research on line; the store is for picking things up.

The Internet has permanently changed buyer behavior and the implications are huge.  We’ve made a paradigm shift that will affect the way we live and work, how organizations are structured and which skills are important in the modern workplace.  Here are two big changes that are here to stay:

  1. Work and home are wherever you want them to be.

I recently moved to an area forty minutes from major shopping.  I wanted to live on a lake, but the downside was no mall, no Target, and no TJ Maxx.  Years ago I wouldn’t have considered a remote area.  Now, thanks to Amazon I can get everything I want delivered to me in a day.  There’s no need to live close to mass shopping.

As for work, I own my own company.  When we’re not on site with clients, we work virtually.  The company headquarters are wherever we want them to be.  In our case we decided we’d rather have UPS deliver to us than fight traffic foraging for essentials.  Instead, I live in a beautiful place with a few special stores and restaurants where I get fabulous personal service.

  1. Human to human needs to be even more special.
    My friend didn’t choose just any dealership to buy his car. He had a relationship with the salesperson. The salesman reached out to him, and he was highly knowledgeable about cars, all the cars.  He was politely persistent with his follow up.  He nurtured the relationship via email and phone calls.  My friend is a consultant who travels extensively.  For him, time is money.  Actually time is money for everyone.

Good salespeople don’t waste the buyer’s time.  The car salesman was a younger man, who wasn’t bound by an old mindset.  He didn’t try to get my friend to come into the dealership, instead he sent him exactly what he needed electronically, and he talked to the customer when it was convenient for the customer, which was not necessarily when the dealership was even open.  The salesman made arrangements for everything and gave the buyer first-class treatment in every interaction.

Buyers search on the Internet, but when it’s a big-ticket item, the final purchase is a human-to-human interaction.  Smart organizations organize their Internet presence to make it easy for the buyer.  But they organize their people to make it special for the buyer.

The difference is important.  The Web makes things easy; humans make things special.