Automated Systems and the Human Touch- Why Your Business Needs Both

30 Mar, 2015 |

Person At Computer Terminal In Distribution Warehouse

The emergence of technology in the modern workplace began not too long after the first computers were being developed.  While there’s an ongoing debate on the impact that computer automation is having on the middle class (that discussion is better served by actual economists), we are interested in the business impact that technology, or the lack thereof, can have in the workplace.  Technology can be a double edged sword and since businesses can have different shapes and structures, it is important to properly discern the place that technology will be given in your organization.

To properly make this assessment, it all narrows down to your customer. At What Time Do I Work, we believe there are two types of customers:  the external customers that make up your client base, and internal customers that make up your workforce. Both have very important roles in a company’s operation and overall direction.

Machines and the Internal Process.

With employees (your internal customers), it’s vital to keep dissatisfaction down, and nothing adds more to a worker’s frustrations than having to spend a large amount of time performing menial tasks that technology could perform more efficiently. Part of the reasons why many people describe their jobs as being “soul sucking” is due to the repetitive and brainless labor that comes along with it.

The costs of implementing computerized systems is what keeps many businesses from investing in them. This is highly understandable, depending on the size of your business. We are not suggesting that you start investing in high-tech machinery that automatically replenishes your  toilet paper supply, but in this day an age, there really is no reason why tasks such as receipt, invoice and purchase order processing should be done by hand.

In many cases, it’s merely a matter of staying up to date with the latest advances that have made many common work systems affordable. Employee scheduling software such as ours  has a low entry cost and can really go a long way with eliminating human error and process time. Businesses in the Trucking and Transportation industry, which are notorious for requiring lots of paperwork that document driving time, inspection reports, and federal transportation reports, are also being flooded with multiple low-cost digital solutions that are becoming extremely easy to implement due to the prevalence of smart-phone technology. Every business will be different, but it is imperative that companies err on the side of process efficiency when deciding wether or not to implement these systems. The less time employees spend on repetitive activities, the more time they can spend improving the internal structure and culture of your organization.

The Customer experience and the Human Element

As frustrating as it may be for an employee to spend time on easily automated activities, it is even more frustrating for a customer to waste time trying to get an automated phone operation system to do something that a human could figure out in seconds.  Technology can solve numerous problems for a a corporation, but it can also create lots of frustration for the customer. (The phone lines at the DMV immediately come to mind.)

When assessing automated systems, don’t just strive to solve internal problems for your business alone. Your customers also have problems that need solving and in many cases, it’s safe to invest in the human element of handling customer interaction. The systems behind your company processes work best when used to empower your workers to solve customer problems rather than create new ones for them. After all, no amount of Artificial Intelligence can replace a waiter’s ability to make a customer feel at home,or develop the discernment to issue a discount to a long-time customer despite the fact that he is a day late, or teach itself the discretion needed to reduce a late-registration fee due to circumstances that were outside of the customer’s control (this one might be a bit far fetched for DMV humans as well).

Customers and Employees alike, prefer being treated as more than just  a number in a system. The more you can leverage technology for THEIR convenience, the better and more profitable your relationships will be in the long run.