Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nightmare on Market Street

It has been so long since I have invoked the spirit of "immutable work practices" in attacking a really stupid human-interface design that I probably ought to quote the last time I cited the concept:

Graham Button has lectured and published long and hard about the problems of introducing a new technology in a workplace; and the problem that most concerns him is that any work setting has its own "immutable work practices" (his words) before the new technology is introduced. If the learning curve for the new technology does not take those immutable practices into account, the new technology many lower productivity rather than raise it.

These days, however, new technologies are not only deployed for the sake of workplace productivity; they are also deployed to provide customers with new "features." Note the use of the scare quotes, because Button's case for counterproductivity is just as applicable to customers as it is to workers.

This is precisely what has happened with Chase's recent rollout of new "DepositFriendly" (as the brochure states) ATMs. The key problem is that they deployed the technology without providing sufficient notification to the customers. The brochure is brief and easy to understand, but if you do most of your banking through your computer from home, chances are that you did not see one. (I certainly did not.)

I am the sort of person who prepares my ATM deposit envelope at home. That allows me to spend the least time fiddling around (and making those behind me impatient) when actually using the ATM. So I approached the new machine with my old habits, fed it the deposit envelope, and it jammed up the works! It turns out that DepositFriendly means you now feed both checks and paper money directly into the machine! So, in the interest of being efficient, I made life more difficult for those behind me, since I basically knocked the machine out of commission. At least I kept a civil tongue while venting my frustration, which is more than I can say for the guy next to me, trying to cope with his machine.

I like the way Chase has decided to call this their "worry free" solution. Apparently, they did not run many real-world tests on their new equipment. I shudder to think what these dummies will come up with for their next innovation!

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