Jed Cohen

An Archive

Inside Outside Upside Downside

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We all want to be on the inside.  It means we’ve got it (whatever “it” is).  Being on the inside means that you know what’s going on, that you have access to information that those on the outside may not know.  It means that you are in a position to find out information that your friends aren’t.  And it means that we can cloak ourselves in the aura of exclusivity that comes with being “in the know.”

There are times when we want the line between inside and outside to stay concrete.  Research and development and public relations both strive for this; in R&D you want your secrets to stay secret, and in PR you want the company line to be the one everyone hears.  Conversely, sales and support agents may jump to the end of the pitch or reach for the most complicated solution because they’ve been inside for so long they’ve memorized the basics.  After all, it’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting the questions we know the answers to or not explaining the fundamentals because we know them like the back of our metaphorical hands.

In a way getting to that stage is a good thing; experience and expertise means that a) your company is still alive and b) you can have better interactions with your customers.  But it has its problems.  As demand increases, so does the chance that some element of the purchase or support process may become transactionalized instead of individualized.  The technology we employ often doesn’t help this either – when was the last time you had a pleasant conversation with an automated phone system?

In the end, the human element may be one of the few things that can keep the flow of information from in to out steady.  Creating an open corporate culture can help us step away from the transactional elements of our interactions with others.  And providing opportunities for both mentorship and the fresh perspective of the outsider is another step we can take from building impenetrable barriers between the inside and the outside.  Because once that happens, chances are that both you and your customers will experience the downside of your success.

Written by Jed

December 11th, 2009 at 4:20 pm