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February 11, 2009


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Definitely. Perry Belcher just put out a similar video talking about the future of social media, and I agree with both of you.

I really think that personal interaction and brands are going to grow exponentially very soon

Bryan Larkin

Interesting dichotomy. US productivity is high because of the extensive levels of automation in our businesses. This helps keep prices low. We like low prices and high productivity, yet we also want to talk to humans. Thus outsourcing call centers to low-cost regions of the world where we can talk to actual humans, but are only routed to them after the spiderweb of push-button selections and interactive voice response systems.

Will we, at some point, value human interaction more than lower costs and higher productivity? And how do we reflect these things in our buyer personas?

Gilad Langer

This is a great reminder! I see this tendency to regress back to the old ways when other problems and stresses are high.

Dan Ziman

Good thoughts, David. Interesting to note that Forrester recently removed their vertical segmentation and went to role-based as a way to get the right info closer to those that care. Net, net as you say, we are far more apt to engage if we feel understood.

Hayden Sutherland

Employing humans to do one-to-one work (e.g. customer service) is one of the highed cost-to-serve methods, compared with websites and associated technologies.
Its unlikely that this will change significantly in the next few years. So its therefore how you manage your customers and practice 'Channel Relevance'. E.g. Understand your customer (create the right personas and eveolve them over-time), then proivide them with the channel and give them the best interaction you can at a price that is cost-efective.
High tech doesn't have to mean low care


You are right on the money. People do want to deal with people, not companies. Business success is usually based on personal relationships,

It always amazes me large the number of advertisements and websites that just don't "get it".

People need to believe and feel like their problems will be solved personally, even though the process may be automated behind the scenes.

Merrill Clark
Web Copywriter

David Meerman Scott

Thanks, all, for your comments. Hayden - as we outsource more routine tasks, it essential to focus on the interactions which is what people truly value. Bryan - Is cheapest always best? I don't think so. Successful organizations realize that an investment in people is essential.


Hey David I agree. The companies that try to be more personal and interactive and put a human face on themselves will reap the rewards in business. BTW David using your last book the new rules of marketing and pr my company released its first press release. In addition to the backlinks and keywords it created we even got an opportunity to do a celebrity gift bag for the oscars. Thanks so much and I can't wait for world wide rave.


Hi David,

I am really glad to see that more and more people want to see the faces behind the companies. I don't count anymore the times when I got frustrated by the IVR menus listening for minutes before getting to the option for "talk with somebody". Companies invest billions to "deflect" you from the humans, use tricks like small links to Contact Us or numerous clicks before they give you the contact form but the only results they get in my opinion is customers' frustration. Customer support is very important part of the business and hiding the people behind a web of menus doesn't seem to pay back anymore. I'll be glad to pay more in order to speak with real person preferably based in the same country I leave in. My good examples are T-Mobile and Zappos. The bad ones - don't ask me to count :)

Engago Team

Still most people (in B2C and B2B) will first search on the Internet before buying.
Thus your leads will appear first on your website. Thus the need to identify website visitors without interfering with them.


Yes, people are always going to be concerned with the bottom line. However, if companies want loyal customers, they need to help them solve their problems quickly and effectively and if that means putting a real person on the phone then so be it. I have cancelled services in the past based on these interactions and the frustrating amount of time it takes to get a simple question answered.

Ugur Ozmen

To have a person or robot on the phone is a derivative decision of Customer Life Time Value.

If customer retention will be more valuable, it will be a person on the phone.

Even, in that case, if the customer screens are not well designed, to have a person on the phone will not satisfy the customers. Because, at the end, customers are expecting their problem be solved. They don't need chatting with company's agents.

Brad Majors


Excellent point and I am glad other marketers are telling their clients that the use of technology to distance themselves from their customers is not a good thing. It first happened with automated phone systems and now with the Internet. Doesn't anyone want to speak with their (happy or unhappy) customers anymore? You wouldn't think so based on the barriers they have up!

justin locke

i certainly agree that auto-answer purgatory is awful to encounter, esp when i call for the first time and i am admonished to "listen carefully as the options have changed" . . . i have a pet theory that people who choose to install these systems have a form of corporate stage fright. on the other hand, i have new data to share: when I respond to buyers personally when they buy my book, a fair number do not respond. I sometimes think some people are also very shy, and just want to get the book and not meet a stranger if possible. just a theory . . . ? one buyer persona maybe!!

Tobin Truog

Great take David, thank you. Too often people start with the idea, "I need a website" or "I need a pocket folder" or "I keep going to these networking events, but nobody there is buying."

I like the give before you ask idea that is assumed in your thoughts.

Know your people, and then build something that speaks to them.

Here's a recent post on the subject from a co-owner of my company, The Marketing Action Club,


Adam Swarr

David, you make a great point. Here in Central Pennslyvania there is a mid-size bank that prides itself by the fact that all phone calls to it's customer service center are answered by people 24/7. No computer asking you 10 questions before you talk to someone. They found a niche in the market since all their larger banking competitors use computers to handle customer phone calls, and the smaller banks don't offer 24/7 customer service. Its working for them - their market share and total revenues are increasing. Does it cost more? I'm sure it does, but they are surviving and their customers are loyal while other banks are failing and customers are fleeing.

Adam Swarr
Website Coming Soon!

Jacob Stoller


Nicely stated. The point I'd add is that visitor interest in the human touch depends on the business you are in. For service companies, establishing a personal presence is essential. If you're selling widgets at commodity prices, however, the primary customer concern will be price and delivery. As you stated so well in "New Rules of Marketing", job one is to make sure site visitors get what they came for with as little distraction as possible. Let's keep in mind not only who the visitors are, but why they came.

Andreas Rudolph

Hi David

you mentioned some important arguments for the use of personas in the development process for products and services. As you motivate the use of personas in a handsome way, I cited your arguments in my own blog.

I understand buyer personas as a means that helps an entire organization to visualize the same target customer while it develops a product for them. I think, this visualization works with almost each product. Obvious are complex developments like software, or services. Not so obvious are products in the commodity area, where personas might enable you to sense additional needs, which you would not see without having a mental picture of your user.

Jo Ellen Lyons

I somehow ended up in ministry. This was a huge surprise to me and evidence that God has a delicious sense of humor.

I can't tell you how many times I've tried to make a 'quick' call regarding a ministry need to a bank or something else and by the time I get through the 'phone tree hell', I am a raging lunatic and so stinkin' frustrated that I can barely articulate my request.

Then, of course, I have to give them 'feedback' about the absolute lack of customer service I've experienced; all the while apologizing to the person I eventually do end up speaking with because I know its not their fault the company has installed some asinine, byzantine answering system.

The best part is when they ask the name of my company and I have to put my claws away and meekly say, "Well, it's actually a ministry..."

I bet Billy Graham never had this problem!

Anyway, excellent points, David, and am already formulating ideas about how to implement on our site.

Jo Ellen Lyons


Im using video to follow that principle of being more personal, because people do want to talk to people. I think the videos build more trust and credibility. I mainly post to http://www.Adwido.com for free because their ability to create traffic back to my site.

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