The world is actually not flat, it’s sort of lumpy

On Friday at 2 pm, I was standing in a small room, about 100 km outside of Delhi, talking with a young man who shared his home with a water buffalo. Less than 20 hours later (thanks to the miracles of 15-hour non-stop flights and many time zone changes) I was at the local Toyota dealer, watching the sales manager working hard to avoid talking to me (or even acknowledging my presence) about how they hadn’t finished servicing my car after a week.

Given the ubiquity of cell phones and the internet, outsourcing this gentleman and his three service consultants to India would be very easy. Instead of having people manning terminals in high-cost Rockland, NY, you’d have 10 people answering the phones (and inputting the same data) in India. More access for less money.

I have no doubt it would create savings. I’m also pretty sure it wouldn’t add much value.

It wouldn’t add value because reducing the cost of an interaction with a consumer isn’t usually the point. The real win is when a service person does the difficult work of solving problems and the essential work of connecting with people as individuals. You can’t outsource this easily.

You’ve heard it before: every single interaction is an opportunity to do marketing, not a chance to cut costs.

PS in addition to owning the water buffalo, the young man in India ran a micro-business in coordination with Drishtee, while others I worked with on my trip were part of Scojo and some other very cool organizations. If you bought the Big Moo, you’ve funded some of their work via Acumen.