I’m Not Dead Yet! (As usual, bonus points if you get the reference.)
There’s a lot of life left in desktop computers. I’m not one of those pundits who expect desktops to become obsolete – tablets have awful touch-screen keyboards and are even more difficult to repair than laptops. The only reason people are moving to them in droves is because the absence of Microsoft = the absence of hassle.
So, I could sit back and just focus on Windows PC repair – and eventually put my competition out of business. Later on, after Microsoft goes the way of the Kodak, I can always help bewildered people set up their iPhones, Macs, and Android devices… but would I thirst for more?
Where do we go from here? What’s my long-term goal? Sure, I’d like to expand Teknosophy to other cities and focus on rescuing consumers from toolbar-infested computers, but what other horizons exist?
Small businesses can’t afford their own IT staff. They need their computers up and running all the time, and when something goes down, they need it back RIGHT AWAY.
Much of the time, they’re disappointed with their incumbent “IT Guy”, be it a full-time employee or contractor. Said “Guy” received his most recent training from a textbook in 1991 (e.g. he still believes defragging is helpful) and was awarded the job mainly by merit of having a beard. Most “IT Guys” think they’re still in the late-1990s tech bubble, where anybody comfortable with a keyboard or mouse is a “computer whiz” – and unfortunately it still seems this way sometimes. They drive around putting useless patches, registry cleaners, and other digital “snake oil” on people’s computers.
There are also three significant needs that this dramatized individual doesn’t understand:
1- Web Design: 99.999999% of small businesses have a website that cost them several thousand dollars for, and was made by a Web guy who disappeared the day you paid him. Said Web guys are teleported to an alternate universe filled with all of your missing left-foot socks.
2- Proper cloud services: Once people discover that Microsoft Outlook is nothing more than a courier of viruses, they’ll need assistance in moving all their emails over to the cloud. Anyone who can assist them in moving their email messages over to BlueTie, Google, or any other non-Exchange service, will be in demand.
3- Custom software creation: One of the reasons I personally prefer residential work is the fact that every small business I work with depends on some obscure piece of horribly-made software. It’s usually a piece of software written by some guy in an Alaskan basement 30 years ago, costs $10,000 a year, and crashes all the time, yet the entire industry is resigned to using it because “nothing better exists.” I could make billions if I could just corral some software programmers into a cubicle.
In conclusion, by creating a Business Services division, I could search out and rescue these poor unfortunate small businesses that are paying tens of thousands of dollars to buzzword-spouting Jack Sparrow lookalikes.
The Weakest Link
I’ve been a huge Genesis fan my whole life. I’ll never forget their song “Back in NYC” – it was the first time I’d heard the expression “You’re only as strong, as the weakest link in the chain.”
Let’s talk about large organizations for a moment. The weakest link in the relationship between them and their customers is without a doubt, the “call center.” This is a building where hundreds of untrained people read from scripts handed to them, and deftly destroy any consumer confidence your marketing department worked so hard to foster.
Think about it… have you ever called a toll-free number and been satisfied with the result? Aside from calling Apple, or the 1 out of 100 times when you reach someone who defies their boss by actually helping you… the answer is a big fat no.
So you’d think anyone with common sense would avoid abetting such a phenomenon. You’re wrong. Some executives have no decent business education, and instead read magazines while on vacation in order to keep current with business methods. (This is known as Management by Magazine Article!) Some of these folks read that it’s a good idea to outsource their large organization’s IT needs. So far so good?
It’s a known fact that some large organizations pay millions of dollars, sometimes monthly, to outsource their own in-house technical support to a call center. They assume that if they outsource their tech support to a company specializing in phone support, then they’ll be “taken care of” by “experts.” Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Much of this tech support is pitiful at best, involving a handful of un-empowered, de-motivated, under-trained, and underpaid agents reading scripts over the phone. If you’ve ever called any tech support line, you’ll realize that these scripts are basically lists of the most common “sticky situations” customers call about. (Think “Choose Your Own Adventure” book.) These agents slump helplessly in chicken coops that hang from the ceiling, supervised by middle schoolers who are fed a taco for every 1,000 phone calls that come in.
chickens agents can be fired at any time. Any attempt to prevent recurring issues will be promptly quashed. Rumor has it, if there’s a fire in the building, they have to apply for permission to leave, via a website! (Obviously all morale-boosting policies.)
The result: The callers are frustrated executives who would give anything to have their problem actually solved by one of those rare knowledgeable people!
Let’s talk about a call center in India (or anywhere in the Far East). Imagine everything above, except with super-friendly people who have even less training and make even less money. (Some people complain about their accents but I can actually understand them just fine.) If they just received SOME sort of training, ANY training at all, and some empowerment, these call centers would be praised in places beyond magazine articles.
My buddy James works in IT, and he sees incompetence all the time. When asked why anyone would let this happen, he shrugs and says, “In the land of the blind, one-eyed men are kings.” IT is still a wild, wild west.
Computers themselves are scary, fickle little boxes that have a monopoly on our needs, our hopes, and our fears. We don’t know what to do or where to turn… and the result is what he calls “IT Jerkey” – a dried up, lifeless version of what’s supposed to be, that’s cheap to procure.
These concepts are surprisingly obvious, yet nobody seems to get it. People naturally want to help each other, and in a company that fostered empowerment and the prevention of recurring problems, these agents would shine.
I can shatter that industry like a wrecking ball through potato chips. All it takes is a bit more momentum…