Are you an ‘expert’?
As consumers, none of us want to make the wrong purchasing decision. None of us want to be the one that bought a Zune.
We like the assurance that a third-party confirmation gives as part of the buying process. Maybe we seek out reviews from trusted sources such as specialist magazines or websites. Or perhaps we’d let untrusted opinion guide us.
What do I mean by “Untrusted opinion”?
In recent years buyers have grown to trust the phenomenon of the “Customer Review”, essentially a word-of-mouth recommendation from someone that we don’t know. We often can’t confirm that the submitted information is accurate, or unbiased, yet we allow it to influence our purchasing decision. Word-Of Mouth has been supplemented by Word Of Mouse.
In the world of business – in sales, marketing, communication, HR, and so on – what we’re looking for, consciously or otherwise, is an ‘expert’. Someone who can give us advice based upon what the Merriam-Webster dictionary describes as their “…having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience.”
But in today’s constantly-evolving commercial landscape, how can anyone be an “expert”? How can anyone know a subject so intimately, when the subject itself and its place within our decision-making process ebbs and flows with the vagaries of taste and opinion?
If Everyone’s An “Expert”, Then No-One IsThe way that businesses interact with customers thanks to technology-enabled channels such as social media (and whatever else is around the corner) can often mean that what we thought was right today can turn out to be wrong tomorrow.
When I think of someone who calls themselves an ‘expert’, I’m thinking of someone who’s’ “been there and done that”, and can give me advice as a result. But today, “there” and “that” are in a constant state of flux. What’s right today can be wrong tomorrow. How can you call yourself a master of the game if the rules of the game are constantly changing?
To me, today’s expert is the one who knows – and readily admits – that they don’t have all the answers. They’re on a journey, observing and learning as technology-enabled commerce continues to wax and wane. But they’re humble and pragmatic enough to acknowledge that they’re taking that journey along with the rest of us.
Being Afraid To Admit IgnoranceDoes that inherently make their advice and opinion less relevant? Not necessarily. By admitting that they don’t have all the answers, and being open to adapting their existing knowledge and experience with whatever the internet has in store for all of us, maintains their credibility as far as I’m concerned.
So, do I consider myself an expert? No, not at all.
But I’m working on it.