This is it, this is the end of an era. McDonald’s is trying to force us to enter our own orders, grocery and hardware stores have self-checkout. The time has come for robots and automated systems to take over the world. Or has it?
I remember when voice mail was all the rage. Not just to keep people from having to actually speak with an operator. Voice mail was the latest and greatest. It would provide a comforting voice to answer a phone call when yu stepped away. It would give you directions, tell your customers when you would be calling back or when you were going to return to the office. It’s just wonderful, marvelous. But it turns out it’s mostly a nightmare.
Every day we get requests to take over the Receptionist duties at professional office spaces, municipalities, e-commerce companies and more. Whey? Because these companies have customers who HATE being stuck in a voice mail tree. They want to speak with a PERSON.
Quite frankly, we have experienced a significant uptick in our business at Central Comm in the past few years simply because people want to talk to people. Machines can do certain automated processes, but when things don’t go exactly as they’ve been programmed to, then everything falls apart.
I was reading this great post on a news site that talks about the automated check out machines. While it’s not exactly the same, the concept of real vs automation certainly is:
It’s Not Always Better To Do It Yourself
04/10/2017 05:53 pm ET | Updated Apr 13, 2017
“…..We all know it is never that easy.
After waiting for the knucklehead scanning 37 items while yakking on his phone, you finally saddle up to a machine. You can’t buy the beer or cold medicine without the help of a clerk to check your ID, the stickers have come off the apples and you don’t know the PLU code, and the promised discount on the brownies didn’t take. Then everything comes to a grinding halt and you hear the dreaded “unexpected item in the bagging area,” followed by the Traffic Light of Doom that alerts the clerk and everyone else that disaster has struck.
But for all the frustration that these self-checkout machines cause customers, the machines are much more devastating to the nation’s workforce. There’s typically one employee overseeing four or six of them, instead of four or six employees at actual registers. That’s what disappearing jobs looks like.
Remember former Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s CEO Andrew Puzder, the failed Secretary of Labor nominee? That was his dream fast food scenario: a fully automated fast food restaurant where you order at a kiosk, pay with plastic, pick up your food and never encounter a single employee. “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case,” Puzder proclaimed.
Harvard Business School Professor Ryan Buell points out that automated machines essentially take the store employee out of the equation, putting the burden instead on consumers. Buell says “Stores are essentially asking customers who weren’t trained to do this work to take on the task. But then they added a bunch of sensors and fraud detection mechanisms that make the job more difficult than it would have been for an employee in the first place.” Buell also takes the un-Puzderian position that human beings are “deeply social animals” who seek out social interactions rather than avoid them.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the machines are here to stay. There are currently more than 200,000 self-checkout machines around the world with that number forecasted to reach 335,000 by the end of 2020. A 2015 Consumer Reports survey of 63,000 shoppers found that three out of four shoppers who used self-checkout machines classified the experience as a time-saver. But those same shoppers had plenty of gripes as well: other customers taking too long, no help available, and, of course, the complaint that the machine was either too hard to figure out or didn’t work properly.”
Yes, we will have to become used to more and more automation and it will probably be painful. In our children’s generation more