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People never get old on the Internet

I have been working in the Internet industry in some form or another for a total of seven years now. I have been in sales on the hosting side, sold commercial Internet connectivity, sold services from the VAR side, partnered in an Internet marketing agency and now I consult and write. I’ve seen a lot in the industry from the Fortune 50 clients to the local optician’s office. I have a lot of “been there, done that” in me as it relates to the Internet.

Lego People

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I have noticed that there is one very old-fashioned common denominator that runs across all of those experiences. I use this “theme” to define whether the online-initiated experience was good or not. It’s not about technology. It’s not about process. It’s not about delivery. It’s about people. While the Internet is connection of networks, it’s more
importantly a Web of people. Real people.
I had a great experience today. I helped connect a person with a need to a service that met the need, and it resulted in a happy client. Happy enough, in fact, that they wanted to make things easy by paying for their year’s service in advance. Now that kind of thinking is wonderful to hear in this day and age. As a result, I was faced with a choice at this time. I could offer them the special year discount or simply just ignore it because they were going to buy anyway. My sales instincts told me to not say anything but the stronger part of me won out because it was the right thing to do. They were very happy and I think the money they saved was given back to me in goodwill for the future. I then spoke with their accounts payable person, who was having trouble making the payment, and she was just a genuinely nice person.
“What’s the point?” you ask. While the only reason we were speaking was due to the Internet, the experience was very cool because of the people. The Internet was the means to an end. The end being interaction with good people for the right reasons.
That’s what never goes out of style. I would even offer that as we become more sophisticated on the Internet technologically, that the people part of the equation is going to become more, rather than less, important. In the hard goods manufacturing sector, technology replaces people while with the Internet it forces people to the forefront to perform. The Internet business is a service business. The human side of the Internet helps to humanize a company that has been reached in an inhuman way. It takes the edge off the anonymity. It serves to make someone feel good about doing business with you. Technology can’t do that. Technology is just a means to an end. A human end.
Never before in the history of commerce has there been a greater chance to differentiate yourself from the competition through the basic human tenets of human decency, respect, and desire to be of service. What the technology removes, or possibly dehumanizes at times, needs to be replaced by people in order to be most effective. Companies that get this, like Comcast, are going to crush their competition. I feel supremely confident of that. Even Google is learning that slowly but surely. There are now people who can be reached to actually talk to at Google. Of course, that is not perfect and never will be, but neither are people.
So what’s the takeaway? Never stop concentrating on the human side of your business, no matter how techy or geeky your company is. If you are too heavily weighted on the geek side of the equation you will be viewed as less accessible. Less accessibility in today’s world means less interaction, which may lead to less business. We can automate the heck out of everything, but if there isn’t a person to speak to about a problem or a success, the long-term viability of the customer is diminished very quickly. So, no matter how cool your Internet business is, you better not think you are too cool for people. You might still make a living but it won’t make a life.

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  1. Avatar Make Money

    You hit the nail on the head! Sounds like you work where I used to. We were trained to have that ‘sales instinct’, but it didn’t always feel right. Especially with the example u gave when a customer asks to pay up for a year before you mention it. I always gave people the discount anyway because I believe if it works out for them they’ll call me next time they need something.
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  2. Avatar Ian

    I completely agree about the human factor. No matter how far we advance technologically we can never replace old fashioned one one one human interaction. I run a rakeback business and one of the reasons I’m successful is through player retention. How do I manage this – regular communication and interaction with my customers via email and IM.

  3. Avatar fordspark701

    This is absolutely true that no matter how internet grow and our technology improve there is no sensor or device that can replace our human
    feeling and ideas.

  4. Avatar Exposed

    I agree, I think the human factor is still one of the strongest interactions we can have in business. Sometimes people rely too heavily on e-mail and what not and may insult others by not treating them with a personal feel. Especially for people who have been in business for a long time expect face to face interactions.

  5. Avatar Mark Vurnum

    The great thing about the internet is that you can wishfully hide your identity not because you want to fool others but at times to bring out your true self.
    The other part is just because the internet exist we can interacting with people from every corner of the globe. I do business with people over the internet as many of you do too. Its so fascinating at times because the next morning you just say hello to a client and he says “I have got some work for you, can u help me on this” it translates into not just business but strong relationships over a period of time. All this because the internet connects us so strongly.
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  6. Avatar Danny

    You are right, i’m all the time helping people. I’m administrator one of these sites and i’m proud of my work to helping people with their problems. I’m using Skype, email and MSN for this. It’s make me happy.

  7. Avatar rakeback

    Yes you are right, a human voice at the end of the phone counts for a lot, it does not matter how technical the internet becomes, there are always people lookign for the human touch, and thats how it should be a real person for a real company

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