Consumers Prefer Text Conversations with Support Reps

Question for you: do you favor a less personal connection with the support reps you need to interact with in our modern life, or a more personal, face-to-face experience?

A 2014 study showed consumers favor the less personal, compressed experience of Texting/messaging versus voice or video support. Source.

Spending Too Long On Hold – Spending time on hold is a major source of frustration for consumers. 38 percent of respondents have spent 10-30 minutes on the phone with a customer support representative, while over half (56 percent) actually said that they’ve waited an hour or more to have their problem solved.

The company that commissioned the study makes SMS messaging platforms. It was acquired by Salesforce in Sept. 2016

Sometimes you might be in the mood to chat with a live person, with all the empathetic channels of voice in force, and other times you may prefer the single-channel avenue of ascii text. Let the customer decide which channel they prefer!

Space colonization as Backup Plan B or to protect Earth – Yes!

Ars Technica had an article about Jeff Bezos’ motivations for space rocketry and travel:

Bezos dismissed this approach on Oct. 22, during the Pathfinder Awards at the Seattle Museum of Flight. In remarks first shared by GeekWire, Bezos said Earth should be zoned as a residential area. “I don’t like the Plan B idea that we want to go into space so we have a backup planet,” he said, noting NASA’s efforts to send probes throughout the solar system. “Believe me, this is the best planet. There is no doubt this is the one you want to protect. This is the jewel. We evolved here, we’re kind of made for this planet. It’s gorgeous, and we can use space to protect it.”

Humanity has two futures, Bezos said. It can continue to grow, or it can settle into some kind of population equilibrium. As an example of the planet’s limitations he offered energy as an example. Taking the baseline energy use on Earth, and compounding it at 3 percent for 500 years, would require covering the entire surface of the Earth in solar cells to meet the demand by the year 2500.

“We need to go into space if we want grow as a species,” he said. “Another route would be just to face stasis, but I don’t think that’s as interesting. I don’t think we want to just survive on this planet, I think we want to thrive and do amazing things.”

Magpie Developers

Classic article from Jeff Atwood in 2008 at Coding Horror:

I’ve often thought that software developers were akin to Magpies, birds notorious for stealing shiny items to decorate their complex nests. Like Magpies, software developers are unusually smart and curious creatures, almost by definition. But we are too easily distracted by shiny new toys and playthings.

Jeff added: I became a programmer because I love computers, and to love computers, you must love change. And I do. But I think the magpie developer sometimes loves change to the detriment of his own craft.

Jeff is the programmer who created Stack Overflow and Discourse.

Which Voice is best for Digital Assistants?

“Conversational computing” is a growing high-tech field that is solving interaction inefficiencies (finger-typing on tiny screens) but are also opening up new dimensions of relating to our devices that can reinforce social/cultural stereotypes.

Do you like your Digital Assistant from Google, Apple or Amazon to be female? Male? Educated-sounding? What does that mean, even?  In the English-speaking world, for example, are British accents (think Jarvis) more educated than Southwestern American?

The teams behind Google Home, Apple’s Siri, Samsung’s Viv, Amazon’s Echo with Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana—all need to balance their users’ gender, cultural and emotional biases. Whew.

Good reading here at NYTimes, article by Quentin Hardy.

Google Assistant “is a millennial librarian who understands cultural cues, and can wink at things,” said Ryan Germick, who leads the personality efforts in building Google Assistant. “Products aren’t about rational design decisions. They are about psychology and how people feel.”

Should you learn to code?

Perhaps a better way for a “tech neophyte” to try out coding is to learn how to write HTML/CSS. This pairing is far more self-contained and visual, and gratifying, than programming initially is (no matter the flavor, whether JS, Python, Swift, they all are far more complex with abstract logic).

Learning how to create a static web page only requires a layout, a text editor and a browser. You can try your hand at building a magazine page, for example, with its masthead, article areas and footer—and you will not be dealing with math or abstract problem solving that coding soon requires.

The learner can see how the basic HTML language syntax works (e.g. simple tags go around the words to style or structure them)… experience how the browser is strict about typos (early experience in debugging!); see how dependencies are linked in (graphics, external hyperlinks); see how the classes and IDs from the CSS file influence the HTML elements; and so on.

If the somewhat tedium of composing blocks of HTML and CSS code is gratifying to the learner, and it sparks an interest, then they can continue gaining fluency in the constructs and begin to appreciate how WYSIWYG editors work (like in WordPress or BigCommerce, say). This can be so helpful for business owners or bloggers, to fix the mistakes that RTEs can introduce from copy/paste actions from other sources (ie. Word pastes).

So, I’m proposing that fluency in HTML is a more basic, essential skill for today’s professionals than actual coding.

SAAS revenue models and slow ramp

Good read: 8 tips from Dave Cancel


If an investor tells you that you can’t build a real business on $20/month, direct them to Constant Contact.

Their average selling price is $37/month, they have 375k customers, they are on target to do $170 million+ in revenue this year, and they are a publicly traded company (AKA liquidity event).

SAAS (Software as a Service) startups need to focus on getting on past what Gail calls the slow ramp of death. When selling low-priced subscriptions you make your money in subsequent years — not up front.

The slow ramp of death is even harder to get past at an average selling price of $37/month; 1000 customers at that price brings in enough revenue to pay a small handful of employees.


From an excellent Ars Technica article:  Choosing between MySQL and NoSQL.

“For 30 years in the IT industry, we’ve had traditional development models,” Gnau said. “We grab users, put them in a room, get their requirements, build out the design, look for data to find structures and reporting, implement and hand it back to users. It was a traditional waterfall approach. Even agile development starts with requirements and winds up with results.

“In Hadoop, you need to challenge that and turn it around. Data is not structured. Users may not know what the requirements are. It’s an inverse process—you land the data, find data scientists to find relationships that are interesting and appealing, and turn that into requirements that yield a system. It’s the opposite approach to a traditional process.”