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I Just Got ‘Warm Transferred’. It’s A Southern Thing.

I Just Got ‘Warm Transferred’. It’s A Southern Thing.

I dig language. I dig analyzing human interaction. And I dig marketing. That actually means every interaction with every business is like a moment in the lab for me.

So I hit a triple play today when I was on the phone with a State Farm customer service rep. The rep told me she wanted to get me to speak to someone from my state. She said: “Let me warm transfer you to someone in PA.”

Dingdingdingding.

My prefrontal cortex woke up with a jolt. I have honestly never heard this before.

I knew of course what it meant: to be transferred to another agent with a live agent-to-agent hand off. Of course there should be a word for that!

Shouldn’t all transfers be ‘warm’?

This is customer service gold. Use it — do it! — and your customers will be delighted.

So at the end of the call, when she asked me if I had any other questions, I checked in with her: “Did you say ‘warm transfer’?

Yes, she said bemusedly. She then politely explained what it meant and added: “It’s a Southern thing, I guess.”

Well, that makes it twice as nice.

 

We Need (And Already Have) Better Economic Indicators

Today, I asked Kathleen, my sensible dental hygienist, how the “dentist business” was going.

I honestly didn’t expect the answer I got — I assumed that folks’ teeth would be one of those “recession proof” things. At least regular check ups and cleanings.

Not the case: “It’s been different… worst recession I can remember,” she said.

According to her, my region’s dentists and their office staff are reporting “not even getting their co-pays”.

That’s not good — and for a multitude of obvious reasons — but here’s a different way to think of it:

For all the official economic stats out there, and specifically the “leading economic indicators“, those stats like the “Average weekly jobless claims for unemployment insurance” and the “The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index” that supposedly represent the trajectory of the economy, there’s probably not one that is as straight forward and tangible as the nascent one implied by my anecdote: are the folks in your town skimping on basic health maintenance?

I think it’s fair to say that it might be time to think about changing that phrase, “All politics is local”, to “All economics Is local”.

If we want folks to understand the state of the economy, why start with national, abstract measurements? Why not anchor it to the folks in your town?

Actually, I’ve been meaning to write about this concept for a while… Way back in 2009, I noticed that when I went to the bank I’d see a lot more people than normal with their change baskets at the counting machines — dumping change, waiting patiently, dumping more, waiting and then finally taking the paper print out to the counter.

I had the fleeting thought back then that it would be really interesting to see the data regarding the usage of those machines?

My thesis: you could gauge the anxiety or budget stress families were having in a region by measuring the frequency and volume of change redemption across banks.

Who ever thought the change in the couch could give you so much insight?

 

 

 

 

Tim Burton’s Mom, the Key to Artistic Genius and What’s Wrong with America

Tim Burton — you know, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Batman — well, there’s a great article on NYTimes.com — Tim Burton, at Home in His Own Head — that synthesizes, via a simple anecdote, a few key subjects I’m interested in:

  • Creativity
  • Child development
  • U.S. culture
  • Innovation

Tim Burton:

“If you look at children’s drawings, they’re all great. And then at a certain point, even when they’re about 7 or 8 or 9, they go, “Oh, I can’t draw.” Well, yes, you can. I went through that same thing, even when I started to go to CalArts, and a couple of teachers said: “Don’t worry about it. If you like to draw, just draw.” And that just liberated me. My mother wasn’t an artist, but she made these weird owls out of pine cones, or cat needlepoint things. There’s an outlet for everyone, you know?”

Thank you Tim Burton for making a few things prophetically clear:

  1. Don’t limit yourself. Do new stuff. Even if it’s ‘weird’ or not your typical thing. Your life depends on it.
  2. Kids do best when they get to follow their instincts.
  3. A culture that compulsively values (demands!) grandiose perfection — Lady Gaga or bust — is headed towards irrelevance.
  4. Innovation stems from having freedom to roam and having the freedom to produce “mediocre” stuff.

When my kids (5 and 3) say “I’m going to be an artist when I grow up!” I say proudly: “Well, that would be the finest thing one could ever be.”

To be clear: it’s not that I envision them in an art gallery or behind a drum kit. It’s not the profession that I care about — it’s the mindset… the mindset that looks through boundaries — or doesn’t even see them at all.

So, let’s make some weird owls out of pine cones, shall we?

Follow Tim on Twitter.

 

 

Why Pinterest Should Pivot And Help The Real Contributors Of The Web Get Paid

Reviewers of the world it’s time to start getting paid.

There’s something wrong with the state of the internet. In particular, reviews.

We write them. We look through them. We rely on them!—even when they’re written by total strangers. They provide enormous value to internet users worldwide. They’ve transformed ecommerce. Yet we don’t own what we write.

Amazon does!

Can’t we snap our fingers and ask the silicon valley rainmakers to take the democratic ethos of the internet one step further and give individuals automatic intellectual property rights for the content we create?

Pinterest is almost there.

It allows users to curate what matters to them—but it doesn’t let us get paid if our curation brings value to a company or organization. I do recall them surreptitiously trying to swap out user-pasted urls with affiliate-laden ones. Hmm. Good idea–bad execution.

Gumroad is making waves by making any link an ecommerce storefront. Not sure if this can be executed as a default in one’s ‘lifestream’.

Yotpo is doing something interesting–using algorithms (what else!?) to find the best reviews for any product. And, Yotpo, will the writer of that ‘best review’ get something in return?

And then there is VRM–or Vendor Relationship Management. There’s lots of interesting things over there–for example, a few of their goals:

  • Make individuals the collection centers for their own data
  • Give individuals the ability to share data selectively
  • Give individuals the ability to control how their data is used by others

It’s good to know we’re heading in the right direction. Heck, there may be a startup being featured right this very instance who has solved the problem.

Regardless–let’s decide to turn the corner together and demand ownership of our thoughts and social content.

 

Is There A Sociobiological Basis For These 4-Color Logos?

Is There A Sociobiological Basis For These 4-Color Logos?

Ok, to blog about Sociobiology is a little highfalutin (even though I find Edward O. Wilson an amazing intellectual)–but there’s something going on here.

Let’s examine these four popular logos:

 

 

 

Why do they all use the same paradigm: contiguous primary colors including blue, red, green and yellow?

All three businesses try to communicate things like “holistic”, “comprehensive”, “–what gives?

Perhaps this approach in some way settles our ‘old’ brain.

Or, perhaps, four primary colors just looks good!