Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Can you be replaced by a logic tree?

If you can, it's time to do something different.

Recently, I made a call to a customer service center and was put in contact with a woman in Mumbai, India. She was friendly and helpful as she made her way through a scripted logic tree designed to help me with my product problem. As a former computer service technician, I was intrigued.

Her script had her repeating two phrases over and over.

Each time I described my problem or responded to her questions she said, "I understand."

Her next words were always, "Let me ask you this:..." and then ask me the next question in the logic tree.

This led to an efficient and oddly personable customer service experience. Even though her responses were rote, canned, I really did feel understood. After all, she told me many times that she understood what I said and followed up with a question that demonstrated she DID, in fact, understand.

This woman in Mumbai gave a human touch (and human intuition if needed) to a process that could have been (and probably one day will be) done entirely by a computer. Well, except for that human intuition part. I hope. The woman in Mumbai could have decided at any point that the logic tree wasn't working and tried something else. She was a human safety valve.

Now if you have a job that COULD be handled by a logic tree but is instead handled less efficiently, here is a six step suggestion for you:

1. Design such a tree.
2. Set up an LLC.
3. Contract with a group in Mumbai, India.
4. Sell your new service to your current employer. (Thereby firing yourself and, regrettably, your co-workers.)
5. If your employer won't buy, sell your service to their competitor.
6. Rinse and repeat.

Actually, do steps 2 through 5 first then contract someone in Mumbai to do step 1. Do it fast, before someone in Mumbai or China, or in the cubicle next to you does it first.

Your new job as CEO of Phone Customer Service, LLC should be one that can't, for the moment, be replaced by a logic tree.

OK. I'm joking... sort of.

My point is to do something that isn't routine. Something you love. Something human. Something complex enough to keep you interested. And interesting. Do this something as a career or a sideline or your retirement project.

As Daniel Pink points out in his book, A Whole New Mind, anything that is routine can be outsourced or automated.

Avoid routines. Do Something Different!

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