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The Hal Blog

How the Hal App Builds Bridges…

Some of the most fascinating stuff happens simply by being involved with the Hal app as a Hal. One of those examples is how gaps are finally closed and how people uncover new ways of thinking, creating, ideating or communicating. It's one of the most fun parts of being a Hal. This story, like so many others I've outlined previously, really showcases the value of how Hal can manage to gather disparate pieces of our lives in a way that brings some interesting and refreshing new circumstances.

This challenge was one that I found intriguing because it was born out of a desire to genuinely communicate with another set of people. It was both sweet and intriguing as to why this customer needed help: she simply wanted to be able to interact genuinely with the people that came to clean her home.

Sometimes the way people communicate via text over the Hal app really is very telling. This customer punctuated a lot of her concern with capital letters and exclamation points, which told me that there was more than a mere hint of desperation in this request. The bottom line was that the people who came to clean her home once per month were from Brazil and spoke almost no English. She had some specific requests about how to clean certain areas of the home and she also wanted to uncover if she could provide them a more significant tip for the great work that they did.

Moreover, she wanted them to know how grateful she was for their diligence, their kindness and their mere presence in her home. However each time she attempted to share specifics around the use of certain clean supplies or how to clean certain areas, the conversation came up dismally short. When she tried to compliment them, the smiles would come initially — but then quickly run away from their faces. Their inquisitive look into her eyes as she tried to describe things in English showcased how they wanted to interact, but the conversation was clearly not getting through.

The customer went on to tell me how she really wanted to ensure that if she provided a tip, it would remain with them — and she was unclear if she could give them cash or simply add it to the check that she provided each month. She was concerned that if she did one versus the other, that the money may not go to them directly for their hard work. She also wanted to communicate that (even though their past conversations were not yielding any results) the work they did perform was stellar and she wanted to compliment them in their own native tongue. But who has time to learn Portuguese?

Once again, it was Hal to the rescue!

I could sense her exasperation and her frustration because she truly did want to reach out to this very diligent team and make sure that they were rewarded directly for all that they did with a substantial tip and heartfelt thanks. Moreover, she was anxious to let them know from her heart that she genuinely appreciated the effort that they put in and how meticulous their cleaning efforts were each month they arrived in her home, not to mention that she really loved their congenial company whenever they arrived.

I knew that giving her a language program/app of some sort would never work. If she wanted to learn a language in its entirety, she would have never come to Hal to seek out an answer. Fortunately, technology has a way of bridging a lot of gaps. And this request was no different. I shared with customer that there is a new feature in an existing app that could make this work seamlessly. The best part of all would be that it took no effort on either parties’ part to make this work — and it also was an app that works across all platforms, so whether she had an iPhone or an Android phone made absolutely no difference. The feature is called Conversation Mode. The app is Google Translate.

I walked her through how to download the app on her particular phone and then shared with her that it had several features that she could leverage to begin a real, genuine conversation with her Portuguese friends. I also shared that she could use the camera feature to point to signs or other documents in different languages to translate them instantly on her phone. Of course the big key in this use case was facilitating dialog. Once she understood that there was a Conversation Mode whereby she could speak English, turn the phone around so they could see it, and then they could hear her conversation/requests/accolades in their native language, she was thrilled!

The other fantastic part of this app is that they could respond in their native language back to her and she would hear it back in English. Since it operated in real time, it's simply a matter of turning the phone’s microphone back to the party speaking and then listening to the response to facilitate an actual conversation with very little wait time. The fact that they could interact organically through the use of this app and the conversation could flow (and not be stilted and full of long stares) was a complete revelation to the customer. She literally said that she could not imagine how she could've accomplished this without coming to Hal for a specific answer.

It was clear that she was beyond appreciative that this solution was both simple to employ and required almost no effort on her part to implement. She now had a gateway to ongoing communication with people that she had truly wanted to share her heart with. Her incapacity to clean due to her disability — and their constant smiles and heartwarming arrival — truly did mean a great deal more to her than simply resulting in a clean home. Furthermore, she could ensure that if she provided them a healthy tip, it will remain in their pockets and not in the hands of their employer, which she was also concerned about. And now she could finally express her appreciation in her own words and in a way that touched the hearts of the people whose visit made a difference on more than one level.

It was readily apparent to me from our texts over the Hal app that this team represented so much more than just a bunch of people coming to clean the house; it was one of the few visits that she got which actually gave her something to look forward to. Even though the communication between them up to this point was difficult and almost nonexistent, they did their best to communicate with gestures and smiles — but so much was still lost in all those attempts and left her feeling wanting. Now an entire new world will open up for all of them thanks to this handy little app and its ability to quickly convert language in an instant. Needless to say, this customer was over the moon!



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