Back to the Future: A Story About Texting and The Obvious

Who doesn’t love “Back to the Future,” the ‘80s classic starring Michael J. Fox as a teen time-traveler who accidentally travels back to the ‘50s, putting his own existence in danger?

But what if Back to the Future had happened today, sending us back 30 years to 1985?

Imagine one day you woke up in the past, before the Internet, smartphones and “Googling.” As you’re walking around wondering what happened, someone pulls up beside you in bitchin’ 80’s muscle car and asks if you know where the freeway is. You apologize and tell them you can’t help, then politely suggest that they “look it up.” They snap back, “I don’t have time to go buy a map — I’m in a hurry!” and rush off, seeming shocked by your response.

“How did we get by without Google?” you think to yourself.

Despite the possible changes to the space-time continuum, you’d want to let people know there’s a better way. You’d want to let them know that in the future they, won’t need to go find and buy a map– they’ll just be able to look it up on their phone, over the Internet. They’d think you were crazy: “Right…the magical, endless source of information, that’s just ‘in the cloud…’” they’d say mockingly.You’d struggle to get them to believe you but would have no luck. Once people saw that new technology (many years later), it would inevitably become obvious and they would feel sheepish for having denied it in the first place.

Businesses struggle to comprehend the idea of using text for customer service, despite the fact that it would make the whole process a lot easier (for their business and their customer). Anyone who’s texted toll-free and support line for a business knows that it’s an obvious extension of how we already use text messaging (texting friends for things we need, changing what time we want to get dinner, etc.)

Texting is also an extension of a brand’s ability to help us as customers. Imagine if the notifications and confirmations we receive from not only dentist’s offices, but eventually businesses around the world, were also interactive and supported dialogue. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to reschedule, cancel, change your plan, ask a question or just get your account/usage info all via text instead of being tethered to an automated phone call?

The future is here–you can text a business. Now we’re just waiting on that hoverboard…

Photo from Rockstar Wallpapers.

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Elias Parker

Elias Parker is a Managing Partner at OneReach where he is focused on enabling companies to offer effective, meaningful customer support over text message. With over eight years of experience working with a user experience agency that pioneered the user experience (UX) space, Elias is skilled in ethnography, user experience research, workshop facilitation and crafting highly specialized product research, design and development teams. Elias’ work spans multiple industries and his client portfolio includes Fortune 500 companies such as FedEx, Boeing, Fidelity and Conde Nast to name a few. Elias has a Masters Degree in Ethno-Political Conflict Analysis & Management from Royal Roads University in British Columbia, Canada.

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