Monday, November 29, 2021

If Your Chat Bot Sucks, You Suck

Like it or not, "chat bots" are the future. But you need to manage them just like employees!

There are several kinds of chat bots. The most basic are just pop-ups on the web site that allow someone to start a conversation that is handed off to a real human. You've probably experienced a version of this at the drive-through window. "Welcome to Cousin Larry's Pretty Good Chicken Place. I'll take your order when you're ready." Then, when you start talking, you realized it's a different voice. The first was automated; the second is live.

In that situation, I doubt that many people are irritated or feel put out. The key to success with that kind of system is: There has to be a smooth transition from bot to human.

As we get ready for 2022, most people are not automatically irritated by chat bots. We start with the bot. Then we get handed to a real human. Sometimes, our problem is handled along the way. 

You might also have a chat bot on the phone. These are more expensive and require a more sophisticated AI (artificial intelligence). Here, you might add some personality and even a bit of quirkiness to fit your brand. Again, more money.

The most important thing to remember is pretty simple: A chat bot should enhance the customer experience, not detract from it

Consider your own experiences. I'm sure you've had experiences where the bot got you exactly what you need. But we're early in the bot era, so there's usually a handoff to a human at some point. The bot needs to do its job and then get out of the way. Again, the hand-off needs to be smooth.

I recently had a very frustrating exchange with a customer service email chain at my medical provider. The responses might have been humans with horrible customer service training, or they might have been chat bots pretending to be human. Either way, my experience was not good. 

When a bot goes bad, it gives absurd and inappropriate information or advice. It is out of synch with the client's needs and mood.

Remember this critical rule about customer service: When a client initiates contact, they are probably already frustrated, at least a little. They need something. You can (or might) provide whatever they need. So if your chat bot takes them down the path to inappropriate questions or recommendations, there has to be a way for the client to quickly make a smooth transition to a human.

If a client feels increased frustration while dealing with your automated service, that reflects very poorly on your company! And you get ZERO points for blaming your bad customer service on the bot you created/bought/programmed to provide that service. 

The most important thing clients need to feel at this moment is being heard. Did the IT consultant hear my complaint? Do they know what I need? Am I going to be taken care of? If your chat bot can accomplish all that, you're in great shape. But right now, chances are good that you bot needs to focus on that smooth transition to a human.

Do not assume your expensive chat bot is working effectively! In fact, assume it is not. Your clients will automatically be more frustrated with your bot than with you, especially in times of stress. So, implement slowly, and get lots of feedback. Take that feedback seriously. 

You've also had this experience somewhere along the line: The chat bot made you feed un-welcome and un-important. You felt that someone did not value your business. So you dropped the communication and went somewhere else.

A "bad" chat bot will cost your clients. A good one might automate your systems and help you solve a few problems before engaging people. But, ultimately, you are still in a people business. So figure out how to use chat bots to increase the human connection.

If your chat bot sucks, and that's your primary interface to a client, you will lose clients and prospects pretty quickly. If a chat bot works well, it will make people feel valuable and welcome. Then, your human team can help clients with a solid, positive connection.

Feedback welcome, of course.


Friday, November 19, 2021

Paul Draper - A Spectacular End of Year Roundtable - December 2nd

Note: This roundtable will *not* be recorded as requested by Paul – you’ll want to join us live!

The December SBT Roundtable will be a spectacular holiday party!

For this month’s Roundtable, we’re happy to welcome Anthropologist and Mentalist, Paul Draper!

December 2nd at 9:00 AM Pacific. 

The regular member Zoom link is in your dashboard.

Paul is an anthropologist and organizational expert. He has taught at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and served as a master lecturer at Yale University.

For seven years, he represented the Casino Floor and Marketing Department for Sands Corporation at the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

He has recently consulted for Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, and in Florida, he has acted as a consultant for Martin Memorial Health Systems, Orlando Healthcare Systems, Tallahassee Healthcare Systems, and for Lee Health in Fort Myers.

In addition to his multiple TEDx talks, Paul has been featured as an expert on the History Channel, A&E, and the Hallmark Channel.

The Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community presents a special Roundtable each month, on the first Thursday of the month. We ask our special guest to leave the PowerPoint at home and help us to have a business-level discussion you can't find anywhere else.

All SBT Roundtables are members-only.

Not a member? No problem!

Join today - and you can join us December 2nd!

Your timing is perfect: Community Membership Prices Go Up January 1st! Join now and you lock in the lower rate for life.

More details at


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

A Very Productive Year for CompTIA's Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity!

No kidding: Bookmark this post so you can find it and come back to download these resources as needed.

I am honored to sit on the Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity Executive Committee for CompTIA. And I want to give a HUGE shout-out to Yvette Steele, perhaps one of the greatest cat-herders of all time. She organized us, worked in the background, and helped inspire us. She's a huge part of the success of thing community. We are one of the largest, and easily the fastest-growing CompTIA community!

You can check out the Community here:

Here are some of the highlights of what this community has produced this year along. These are great resources. That's why I recommend you bookmark this post and return to it. If you employ people, you'll honestly find these to be great resources.

Diversity contributes to creativity, profit, and and success. But how do you actually apply that in the real world with a small business? That's exactly the approach we looked at. And here are some great resources for you to pursue.

(Thank, Yvette, for the survey that gave me the fodder for this post.)

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI)


I know that's a lot! But that's the point: I am honored to work with a group that has accomplished so much this year. And I know the year's not over with, but if you're trying to hire in the final six  weeks of 2021, then the tips here might just help you recruit some amazing new talent that your old hiring process missed.


Grab This Client-Facing Sample Cybersecurity Training PPT

Grab this resource at

I did a paid client-facing cybersecurity training for office workers in November 2021. So I figured, as long as I'm at it, I'll update the sample training for YOU, the IT Service Provider.

Everyone is welcome to:
  • View the training exactly as I presented on Zoom. See
  • Download the source PowerPoint Slides
  • Remove my graphics and customize the PPT for your company and your clients
Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community Members also receive:
  • Client-Facing Cybersecurity Questionnaire for 2022 in Word doc format (great for beginning both the education and the discussion about security in the 2020's).
  • Client-Facing Data Handling Guide. This is a table you can help clients fill out to educate their employees about which files can be copied to which locations (cloud drive, email, personal drop box, etc.).

ATTENTION: Copy This Client-Facing Security Presentation For Your Business
Educate Your Client about Security Threats and Crypto-Viruses.

Client-Facing Best Practices for Safe Computing

Webinar Speaker: Karl W. Palachuk – Author, speaker, podcaster, and coach. This is a recording of a live client-facing presentation from November 2021. Includes client questions.

This is being made available for use by all IT professionals as a place to start. This is just one sample of IT training, focused on a non-technical audience. It may not be a perfect fit for your business or your clients.

If you want the source files for the handouts and sample Data Handling Guide, those are available only inside the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community at

Comments and questions welcome here.


5-Week Class - Service Agreements for SMB Consultants - Starts November 23rd

Class Starts November 23rd: 

Service Agreements for SMB Consultant - Applying the Book

All About Service Agreements for I.T. Consultants

Next Offering:

- Five Tuesdays - November 23 - December 21, 2021 

- Register Now

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

Updated Class for 2021!

Based on the best-selling book Service Agreements for SMB Consultants, this course covers everything you need to know about developing your service agreements. And the book subtitle is important, too: A Quick Start Guide to Managed Services.

Most I.T. Professionals sign - or don't sign - contracts for the wrong reasons. Most think contracts are intended to draw battle lines for when you have a disagreement with your clients. In fact, that piece of the relationship is almost always outside the contract! We'll explore why you really need contracts or service agreements.

We'll also look at various options, including a 2-page "terms of service" as well as managed services, programming agreements, and more.

Tuition for this course include the ebook version of the newly revised and expanded Service Agreements for SMB Consutants! That includes all the downloads from the book as well.

You will learn

  • Defining Yourself and Your Relationships
  • Define Yourself
  • Define Client Relationships
  • The Language of Service Agreements
  • The Service Agreement Construction Kit
  • A Sample Credit Agreement
  • Boilerplate: A Sample Service Agreement
  • Flat Fee or Managed Services Parts
  • The Managed Service Agreement
  • Getting Help and Managing Agreements
  • Getting Help - Lawyers, Accountants, etc.
  • Managing Your Service Agreements
  • PLUS lots more. This class is filled with great advice and tips on running your I.T. company and moving into the world of recurring revenue with managed services.

Delivered by Karl W. Palachuk, blogger and author of the very popular "SOP Friday" posts.

Includes five weeks of webinars with related handouts, assignments, and "office hours" with the instructor. All classes are recorded for download.

This course is intended for business owners and managers. It is particularly useful for the Service Manager or Operations Manager.

Only $299

Register Now

Note: Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community Members receive huge discounts. Get your code inside the Community.


Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Finish the Year Off Right - Join Me At the SMB Roadshow Las Vegas - December 14th

Registration is Now Open for the SMB Roadshow in Las Vegas !!!



Las Vegas

Courtyard by Marriott Hotel - Las Vegas

December 14, 2021

1-5pm, local time

Mission Control we are ready to blast off!

Please join us for a great LIVE event.

I am posting this notice because we have officially locked down the meeting room, signed the paperwork, and bought the airfare. 

In other words: We are 100% ready to blast off in Vegas.

More information and registration at:

This event is four hours of great content, networking, and education . . . followed by a beerfest. The price is only $399 for the first attendee. But you can save $100 right now in Early Registration.

Our theme this year is all about the Absolutely Unbreakable Rules of Service Delivery. We'll start with some networking and then a fun and educational Game Show I designed just for this event.

After that the agenda includes:

  • Running Successfully in the 2020's
  • Post-Pandemic Clientele and Offerings
  • Building YOUR Absolutely Unbreakable Rules
  • Looking Forward to the next normal

(and, of course, a trip to the pub)

We all have rules we use to help us be successful in life and in business. I've spelled out some of my most important rules and then we'll help you down the road to codifying the rules that have made YOU successful.

As always, we have plenty of handouts and time for Q&A.

Join us and take your business to the next level.

Note: Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community members get in Free of Charge with the code posted inside the Community. Members, get your code here:

Not a member? No problem! Join today and save big on this roadshow, all of our 5-week classes, and thousands of dollars worth of other benefits.

We've been off the road too long. PLEASE join us live in Las Vegas for a great event.

Your satisfaction is always guaranteed.