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The automation of everyday things

I've just moved house. One of the joys of moving house means you will be speaking to the many customer services departments for all the things you might need for your home. The numerous staff you'll be speaking to in the coming days will have the pleasure of updating your information in their systems to facilitate any services you may need at your new property.

In arranging services from 5 or so of these companies in the past 3 days, you learn just how limited customer services staff are by their systems. Should you have an 'unusual' situation arise —┬áread: anything the system designers did not anticipate — there's very little front-line customer services staff can do to help. Instead you're kicked up to a 'technician' or some form of higher power that takes the 'tricky' cases.

When you think on this, you realise that it's likely a lot of people doing 'straight forward' jobs are entirely beholden to the systems that have been built around them. A reality is fast approaching where a large number of people are not expected to know how things "actually work" and only operate systems that do what we want.

The large systems that have been built around these 'straight forward' jobs have ironed out the opportunity for staff to 'be helpful' and have accustomed the consumer to a lower ceiling of service.

There is opportunity for automation with a lower ceiling of service. Updating data and providing services is not something that necessitates human interaction, even today. An example can be seen in retail with self service checkouts, where the next step is to remove checkouts entirely1.

I think we can expect to see basic customer service tasks to be automated through extensions of the systems that are currently in place. Perhaps there's a future where no one need input new data at all.