Even though we were running a bit behind last week, I decided I had a few minutes to pop into a local warehouse club to pick up a few items. (Yeah, smart idea.)
My son and I blew into the cavernous store and headed toward the department we needed. When we rounded the corner of the electronics area, I came to a halt. Something was wrong.
The layout of the store had been changed. Granted, the food items I ran in to pick up were in the same general area (about 1/2 mile away). But many of the other departments I frequently meander about were now moved or changed altogether.
My son asked, “Is something wrong?” He may have picked up that hint from me loudly grumbling, “Really? Reeeally? What IS this?”
The brief in-and-out visit I planned ended up taking an additional 15 minutes as I now felt obliged to find where they moved the things I usually shop for. Granted, I didn’t need those things just then.
But I was aggravated enough to make us late in order to totally take in just how stupid, stupid, stupid these guys were. They changed something I was comfortable with!
How dare they?!?
Was that an overreaction? Well, of course it was.
I later told my wife about it, and she shared just how mad she was on her last trip there, as well. We agreed that the company must have reasons and data to back up altering the store in those ways.
She kidded that they should have folks walking around helping lost and frustrated people… or at least someone standing at the door apologizing for how mad they were about to make customers. I thought that was funny… and not entirely crazy.
Change, even sensible and well-meaning change, is rarely initially applauded by customers. That is as true for banks and CU’s as for retailers.
Just about all of us have already, are currently, or will in the future introduce sensible and well-meaning changes to any number of the ways and places we provide services. It’s important to remember that initial negative responses are not necessarily a sign the changes are wrong.
They’re a sign your customers are what we call “normal”.
The success or failure of your own new strategies and models will often come down to clearly and positively explaining why changes (improvements) are being made.
Make sure your customers always know what’s in store for them.
Comments by a few well known “tech titans” a few months back generated increased chatter about the coming displacement of humans in the workplace by technology and “robots”.
What often happens is that one well-known and/or respected person makes a provocative statement. Journalists then ask others to respond, and it soon seems like that topic is a front-burner issue.
Because of this, I usually take the latest and most breathlessly reported predictions of systemic change to anything with a grain of salt. That doesn’t mean predictions don’t have merit.
But pontificators tend to get ahead of themselves when predicting exactly how, where, and why folks will be displaced.
That said, many have a tendency to take the fact that their businesses or individual jobs have not been drastically transformed yet as a sign that they are somehow immune to the technological tumult others are experiencing.
That’s not very likely.
Todd C. Frankel of The Washington Post recently gave an interesting example. He reports that a machine is being tested at a few hospitals that may one day replace anesthesiologists. While being used in minor procedures now, advanced machines are in the works to handle even the most delicate and lengthy surgical procedures.
Anesthesiologists are some of the highest paid professionals in medicine. They, of course, argue that they can’t be replaced by a machine.
Maybe they’re right. Maybe they aren’t.
But there is little doubt that these technologies will alter their job functions (and possibly market value) in the future.
If even a job that requires years of advanced study and training can be taken over by technology, what does that say for most jobs today? Well, I’d respectfully suggest that it means the procedural and transactional parts of many jobs will be devalued.
However, those who develop skills not easily replaced by machines will become more valuable, not less. Technology will make most basic, repetitive transactions faster, easier, and more accurate than people ever could.
But these technologies will be ubiquitous and not a differentiator of companies.
Folks who are skilled at attracting other human beings to do business with them will be in higher demand than ever.
Sales functions are not the “necessary evils” of our jobs.
They’ll be, in fact, the main factors in keeping our jobs valued.