Business fun stuff

Communication modes for the 21st century

Just rang to book my car in for a service. After navigating an auto-attendant and then  holding for some time I eventually got through to a receptionist who was clearly not at the department I’d navigated to. Ok. It happens. Phones get busy etc etc.

She asked me if I’d like someone to ring back which is fair enough. I do want to get my tire tyre pressure sensor system sorted out. It’s annoying being told that one of your tyres has a problem when it doesn’t. I readily gave her my mobile number and said my name was Tref (actually I pronounced it Trev but it doesn’t matter for the purpose of this conversation – I don’t want to complicate the spiel). What she really wanted was my surname which in case you don’t know (she didn’t, obvs) is Davies.

She then politely referred to me as Mr Davies and said someone would get back to me. Fine.

It’s interesting though how people communicate isn’t it? I’m not particularly having a go at the dealer. It’s an honest enough business (did I really say that?) earning a few hundred quid for doing not that much to your car because you are hamstrung by having to use a dealer for the particular problem.

It’s interesting how we, the business community, communicate with people, our customers. I didn’t really want to talk to someone at the car dealer, other than I wanted at least a ballpark understanding of how much they were going to charge me for the service. I’d rather have been able to book online or chat to someone via IM.

I want to be able to go to someone’s website, see that a relevant agent is available to chat to me, be shown a list of available time slots I could book for the service by that agent, see the range of charges and then agree to book the car in. This might be an interface through the Facebook page of that organisation, where there is a ready made IM system, or it might be through another platform – Google+ say, or Skype or it may be all of them.

I as a punter would clearly be willing to share some of my personal details with that business by virtue of the fact that they would now have my Facebook/G+/Skype address (etc). After all I’m willing to let them have my mobile phone number to call me back. From a business perspective this is great. It’s what with it’s social media integration is trying to get at. Lots of information about customers.

From a punter’s perspective it would make things a lot more convenient than having to hang on the phone. I could be waiting in a window whilst doing something else. I could always escalate the conversation to a phone call if needed once connected.

Back to my immediate needs this car dealer, a substantial business in the East Midlands, was not on the front page of a Google search for Lincoln car dealers – not even for “Jeep car dealer in Lincoln”. I didn’t bother looking on page 2. So it has some way to go before understanding how to navigate a web orientated world. It looks therefore as if I will have to continue to use its existing booking service as long as I have to use that dealer. An hour or more later I still haven’t been called back.

Now before anyone starts thinking about leaving a comment re how Timico works (it’s happened before) hold your fire. Whilst I’m happy to be proved wrong I suspect that nobody has the system I have just described, yet. We do have web chat as do many other companies but it is not integrated with any social media platform. It can’t be far off general realization though and I do accept there are a few stumbling blocks such as the fact that people may not want to open up their Facebook selves to third parties.  But it  has to be the way ahead1.

As far as being called Mr Davies it doesn’t sit comfortably with my inner kid. My business card, such as it is, mentions only my twitter handle @tref and my websites. It’s not a Madonna-like branding thing. It’s just that I’m not a formal kind of guy.

That’s all for now folks.

PS my tyre pressure sensor system has needed doing for a while. I’ve been putting it off because I know it’s going to be expensive. Call it an early Christmas present!

1 Specifically irksome as I very specifically don’t trust Facebook. It doesn’t have to be Facebook. It could be LinkedIn or Google or Microsoft et al. None of them are really trustworthy  but you have to go with one of them. It’s unavoidable unless you want to pick up that plain old fashioned telephone and wait…