Automation is not better customer service


At a fast-food restaurant, I was met by an employee who tried unsuccessfully to get me to use the new “self-service” machine to take my order. (I also refuse to use an ATM machine, on principle because the sole purpose of installing such machines is to reduce labour costs.)

Why would this employee not understand that the better she got at encouraging customers to use the machine, the more likely it would be that she could lose her job?

Most people these days seem to think that the more digital and automatic things are, the better. But it is not “better” for the customers to have to do everything themselves, and have to interact with an impassive machine, instead of a human being.

And it is not “better” for the employees, who will be laid off because customer service is no longer considered necessary. I appreciate and value customer service and the social contact associated with it.

Ever since the Industrial Revolution, the continuing development of machines has caused working people to lose their jobs. But now, working people losing their jobs to machines are having to foist the work they have been doing upon the customers, whether they like it or not.

Some day, I imagine, we will all be wandering around, frustrated, having to do everything ourselves while trying to avoid all the unemployed people — sales clerks, pilots, taxi and train drivers, tellers, truck drivers, etc. — milling around the streets, wondering where their next meal is coming from.

Jim McClennan


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