The Tiny Chat People are here to assimilate

Hello, this is the Sparky Firepants automablog. I am here to entertain you while you use the toilet. I will attempt to compile a satisfying blog experience by assessing your ad preferences and Google search terms, thereby —


Stop, hang on. Don’t run away. None of this is true. It’s just me, Sparky. I’m not assessing anything and I won’t even pretend to know you’re pooping right now.

Victor White, Real Person.

What I am doing is making a point about robotic online experiences. What spurred this post is an experience we’ve probably all had when visiting an online store. About ten seconds into your site visit, just as you’re about to click on the first juicy thing that catches your eyeballs, a little chat window in the bottom corner pops up. Oh hi there, says the we-are-BFFs-already Tiny Chat Person inside your computer. What can I help you find today?

Okay. Like I used to remind (scream at) the Microsoft paperclip, I will find you when I need you, mmkay?

I’m a super DYI kind of person, I know this. I run screaming from Home Depot helpers even when I can’t find the thing I need and their entire earthly being is about trying to help me find that thing. I recognize that some (normal) people actively seek out help in stores and online. In fact, there are probably many who love and wait for the Tiny Chat People and I think that’s really beautiful, in an I-live-with-100-cats-and-don’t-see-humans-ever kind of way. I don’t judge. And yes, I have had useful discourse with the Tiny Chat People in the past. Like radiation or politicians, they can be useful in small doses. Like I said, I’ll find you when I need you (or after I’ve spent seven hours on my own with nothing to show for it but several empty bags of Skittles and a sore mouse hand).

Okay, *end rant* about Tiny Chat People. To be fair, the roboticized approach to creating something custom online has its place, like Nike’s shoe design bot, for example. They also have their limitations, the biggest being significant lack of humanoid presence. If I don’t like the choices or the price, or if I want to run a radical new idea past someone, I can’t. Those robots put up an emotional wall and refuse to open up to me. Sniff.

Rather than just bitch about cold fish robots, I try to take these experiences and apply them to what we do. If you take a walk around our website, you’ll see that it’s pretty bare bones around here. We have an inquiry form, but that’s about as automated as we get. Every now and then, someone asks us if we have an online catalog, or if they can just order custom shirts through our website. I kind of get it. It’s not only convenient, they don’t have to deal with a live human being before they’ve figured out what they want.

I feel that our very non-robotic approach suits us. Some say that business isn’t personal, but I believe ours has to be. Call it tailoring, bespoke, whatever – our belief is that every client should be treated in a way that embraces their uniqueness. Of course, that means our growth could be limited. We’ll never break into that vast and powerful online market where shoppers choose a shirt, upload a design, get a quote and go on their way. That’s okay with us.

Being present with our clients, working with them on an individual basis (sometimes meeting them in their living room), spending time understanding their goals beyond getting some printed tees – that’s the sweet spot. That’s the most rewarding part of doing things on a smaller scale.

I hope you were able to finish this post in peace, wherever you are. If I were there I would totally hand you a new roll of TP under the stall. Then again, there’s also something to be said for keeping a professional distance.



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