Thursday, March 19, 2015

Service Providers that Don't

As a followup to yesterday's post about reality-checking innovation, I feel it worth noting that the problem goes beyond the invention of artifacts. Yes, we are drowning in innovative artifacts, all of which are developed to realizes scenarios about how much better things will be when they work, as if the failure of any mere artifact was not an option. However, things are no better in the service sector, possibly because prevailing thinking (such as IBM's effort to declare and then study "service science") seems to have gotten hooked on trying to reduce service to a product. However, Google does not help you find which shelf has the eye drops at your local pharmacy; and, even automatic checkout systems (like the one at Safeway) need a human to see to what happens when human behavior does not meet the expectation of the machine. Similarly, one of the channels on your cable system does not black out all by itself: A machine may implement breaking the connection, but it is responding to some policy decision (or, perhaps, the refusal of the service provider to accept the terms proposed by a particular channel).

These are not consequences of what happens when the technology breaks. They are "corollary events" that arise because, no matter how many machines there are, we are still part of a sector of people inhabiting the world. As people we are consumers of both products and services. The providers may wish that they would not have to deal with our all-too-human frailties, but they seem to have decided that denial is a better strategy than coping.

Still, there is a lesson to be learned here. Don't waste your time raging against the machine. Find out (perhaps with the help of one or more machines) who are the people behind the machine. They are the ones who should feel your rage!

1 comment:

DigitalDan said...

I have a long list of recommendations for the Xfinity X1 implementation team. A few bugs, but mostly recommended improvements. If only I knew how to reach them, they might even appreciate the comments. I actually asked for a pointer at the retail store, which request was, not surprisingly, answered with a very blank stare.

In the earliest days of the web, companies and organizations actually included links for how to reach people there. Now they use their web sites to hide as far away as possible.