In the past couple of weeks, I visited two physicians in different specialties for various ailments. One listened to me attentively but somehow brought every aspect of our discussion around to the shampoos and skin creams that he had developed for just this type of condition. The other didn’t even pretend to listen. Instead of answering my questions, he delivered soliloquies about his impressive new services — fertility treatments, laser hair removal, vitamin therapy, and the like, none of which had anything remotely to do with my problem.
I have known these doctors a long time, and it wasn’t pleasant to undergo their sales pitches, much less to have to turn them down. Although they don’t know each other, both physicians have succumbed to the same alarming disease: They have become peddlers.
Every pop psychology book tells us that you can manipulate people by pushing their hot buttons. For most of us, those buttons are intense emotions like guilt, fear, shame, and greed. You feel guilty if you don’t buy that shampoo from your favorite dermatologist, the one you’ve been going to for 15 years, and you feel ashamed if you sneak out of the waiting room without looking at the vitamin display your gastroenterologist has urged you to check out. (You also wonder whether he’ll cut back on the quality of his care if you don’t buy his merchandise.)
Of course, the doctors know what you think; that’s how they keep a firm grip on your wallet. If hard times can turn reputable physicians into hucksters, just imagine what they will do to product vendors. As the U.S. languishes in the economic doldrums, we are more vulnerable than ever to the blandishments of desperate sales people. Nowhere are they more plentiful than in the software arena, where hawkers tout every new program, now matter how slight, as the ultimate “solution” to a company’s ills. Software, they tell us, is indispensable to the management of customers; that’ll be $20 million, thank you very much.
Before you whip out your credit card, take a look at our book excerpt, “The 3-D Customer,” on page 94 of this issue. Author Stephen Medcroft not only provides a succinct guide to the basics of setting up and managing multimedia contact centers but also discusses what software you will need, how it connects with what you already have, and how much you can expect to pay for it. Although the price will still be high, you’re unlikely to end up putting your business into hock — and in this somber economic climate, that’s saying a lot.