Greetings.  We live in a "self-help" world as companies and organizations try to get us to do more of their work.  And, for the most part, we seem to be pretty happy with this idea.  After all, who wants to spend countless minutes or hours in line or on hold when we can simply do things for ourselves.  And, who wants to take the chance that the service provider who eventually greets us or picks up our call will end up being clueless and unmotivated to help.  Besides, most of us have become conditioned to believe that we'll pay a lot less for products, services and solutions if we devote our own time and energy to their delivery.  Give me a simple app and I'll gladly handle most of my own banking until my deposit somehow disappears into the stratosphere.  Give me relatively simple instructions and an Allen wrench and I'll happily assemble my own Scandinavian furniture until one or more pieces just don't fit.  Give me a clear link to the right on-line tutorial and I'll willingly try to troubleshoot my troubling hardware or software problem until I somehow make things even more problematic.  Give me an aspirational and intuitive website filled with engaging customer reviews and I'll find exactly what I need until I end up with the wrong product.

Because sometimes I can be brilliantly self-sufficient.

And sometimes I get by with a little help from my friends…

Or a particularly knowledgeable stranger. 

And the smartest companies and organizations understand the difference.

We all know why most enterprises are driving us toward a life that is filled with more and more opportunities for self-help.  It's way cheaper to commoditize the most routine aspects of doing business with them.  And it also reduces the sheer volume of errors and frustrations that come with handling repetitive transactions. That way, we all assume, they can dedicate their real expertise to the tougher and more important challenges that customers face.  Challenges that are critical to our success and require an expert, coach or mentor.  Challenges that are critical to our success and require timely and committed resolution.  Challenges in which our own feeble efforts are unlikely to produce a compelling result.

And challenges which, when resolved, powerfully strengthen their relationships with customers.

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We win in business and in life when we balance self-help with great help.  And when we let customers decide which one they really need.