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Will technology improve customer service?

Interesting article in today's New York Times.  The article is called, "More Consumers Reach Out to Touch the Screen".  Here's an excerpt:

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A new generation of self-service machines is slipping into the daily lives of many Americans.  Rejected for decades as too complicated, the machines are being embraced by a public whose faith in technology has grown as its satisfaction with more traditional forms of customer service has diminished.  Faced with the alternative — live people — it seems that many consumers now prefer the machines.

"The main thing is you don't want to deal with the cashiers and their attitudes," said Dexter Thomas, 37, bagging his own pizza rolls and Eggos in a self-checkout lane at Pathmark store in downtown Brooklyn this month.  "That's why people come to this line."

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http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/17/technology/17MACH.html

Alex Chernavsky
Monday, November 17, 2003

The Meijer's around here has those automated checkout lines. I absolutely despise those machines. They are incredibly slow and annoying. A mediocre cashier can go twice as fast, easily. Maybe the one's I'm used to are just crap, but honestly, even incompetent cashiers are better than machines. Given half a choice, I'll never choose the machine. Not even a whole choice...

Mike Swieton
Monday, November 17, 2003

I'll take a slow machine over the mongoloid ex-cons who pass for sales clerks these days.

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto
Monday, November 17, 2003

Screw the machines. If the people are offensive, than call them on it. There's no reason to take shit from most people, let alone cashiers and clerks. It is their job to be polite, and when the mess it up, make sure they know it! Most managers will give away free stuff for the particularly egregious infractions.

I can understanding letting your boss make demands of you, but when you're the customer it is not in any way too much to ask to be spoken to politely. I have been on both sides of this fence, and fairly recently at that. And there's no excuse for mongoloidism.

Mike Swieton
Monday, November 17, 2003

Haha, just saw this story:

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Southern Drawls Confuse La. Phone System

Mon Nov 17,12:33 AM ET

SHREVEPORT, La. - Southern drawls have thwarted voice recognition equipment used by the Shreveport Police Department to route non-emergency calls.
 

A switchover to a lower-tech, touch-tone system — in which callers hear a voice recording they can respond to by pressing a different number for each division — is scheduled for Monday, said spokeswoman Kacee Hargrave.

The voice-recognition system asked people to name the person or department they wanted.  More often than not, the system just didn't understand, and they wound up at the wrong place, said Capt. John Dunn, who oversees police communications.

"In Louisiana, we have a problem with Southern drawl and what I call lazy mouth. Because of that, the system often doesn't recognize what (callers) say," he said.

Interim Chief Mike Campbell knows all too well how frustrating the voice recognition system can be.

"I can count on one hand when I have been transferred to where I've wanted to go, and I know the system. I can imagine how frustrating it would be for a citizen," he said.

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http://tinyurl.com/vghr

Alex Chernavsky
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

As social skills deteriorate, people get stressed by even the simplest direct contact. They look for "social condoms", such as online communication, or reach for total social  abstinence and prefer dealing with machines.
This leads to a further breakdown of social skills, and the spriral continues ...

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Some of these condemnations of checkout people are appalling. They are people forced to do rotten jobs on low pay with no nice conditions. The sorts of things we whine about all the time.

How about being nice to them.

Must be a Manager
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Many moons ago I saw a cartoon which had someone being interviewed for a job at a fictional burger resturant.  Quoting from memory:

"So - let me get this straight, you want me to sell the charred remains of genetically modified cattled raised on the ashes of the rain forest for a pound an hour - and SMILE!?"

A cynic writes
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

maybe the machines are just broken. at the grocery store checkout machines in these parts, you just scan your items, and pay. it is pretty easy.

boot
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

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