As technology has evolved over time, many businesses have sought to increase their profitability by automating many of their processes. In some areas, this has been hugely successful, leading to a greater experience for all involved. However, in others, the shift has not been well received and has caused businesses to shrink. The loss of a personal touch, the inability to speak to someone who can empathize with you, and the time spent crawling through a call tree can all be extremely frustrating.
A phone call earlier today prompted me to write this as my blood pressure was at an all time high after spending what seemed like 3 hours being passed around a directory and the magic pushing of 0 did nothing 😦
Today I am going to look at areas that have improved due to increased technology, and others that have gone in the opposite direction.
Cashiers – automation has made lines move much more quickly, and the self-checkout has made purchasing items so much more convenient!
Retail – A blend of online shopping and the in-store experience seems to be the best way to go. This is exactly what we are looking for with our approach at Royal Services.
ATM – tellers can now focus on bigger items such as loans, home equity lines etc.
Surgery – robotics has made things happen that we never thought possible in the medical world.
Manufacturing and machinery
Telephone book and yellow pages – I can’t even remember the last time I looked through a phone book, and am so thankful for the simplicity of looking up phone numbers online.
Maps and Google Maps – remember when you would print out directions? Unfortunately, the printouts cannot take into consideration traffic issues and give you alternate routes!
Skype/ communication with loved ones – without Skype, my children may not know their grandparents in England at all. Phone calls are great, but the face-to-face capabilities have made such a difference.
Financial tracking – budgeting tools are imperative for those who need help tracking their finances.
Service providers – the frustration is endless when you are attempting to get a hold of a service provider and only get recordings. It would be much more useful for the consumer to be able to speak to a real person.
Insurance providers – I’m sure many people have had fine experiences with insurance that they purchase online without contact with a person. However, there is a reason Progressive set up brick and mortar stores – people need that human contact! Especially with purchases as big and important as insurance.
WebMD and other online medical sites – while these do come in handy some of the time, I am the worst at hopping online when I see a little bump or bruise that looks funny and ending up with my head between my legs, hyperventilating and convinced I’m going to die within the next 30 minutes. I cannot imagine the frustration doctors experience when people enter their offices acting as if they know more than the person who attended 12 years of schooling, just because they read something online. Unfortunately these sites that are meant to help ease worries often tend to exacerbate them!
Social media – such a great way to keep in touch with friends and loved ones, but unfortunately they have their drawbacks as well. As a mother, I try to stay off of facebook as much as possible to prevent feelings of inadequacy and failure. While I am fully aware that the humble bragging I see on a daily basis is not painting the true picture of motherhood, I can’t help but feel I’m doing something wrong when I look at these seemingly perfect families! There are also major problems with bullying and harassment, leading to horrible consequences. PSA to please monitor your child’s Facebook page!!!
Online loan applications – again, this is a big deal and one that some people will feel more comfortable completing with a real person. Not to mention, once you fill one out you are inundated with sales calls and emails for months!
Time wasted – you might just need to hop on real quick to check the weather, but you notice a new email which includes a link to a video with a cat on a skateboard, which in turn leads to many more hours of wasted time watching silly YouTube videos.
Driving dangers – some people are so addicted to technology that they are willing to put their lives and the lives of others in danger just to send a quick text or check email.
In most situations the best outcomes are experienced when there is a combination of technology and human to human interaction. Some people see technology as a complete solution, whereas I see it as a tool that gives people the ability to spend more time on what really matters and where they can have more of an impact. What are your thoughts? Are you a fan of technology and look for the minimal human interaction or are you more traditional and appreciate the connection that you can have with a real person? I am interested to hear your thoughts so please share them in the comment box below.