Do Your Tech Solutions Engage or Disengage Your Customers? #humanvsmachine

This week on Blogging4Jobs, we are focusing on the theme Man Versus Machine sponsored by 1 Page Proposal. Within this world of social media, social recruiting and HR technology, it’s easy to get caught up in the cool, the fads and the next big thing.  To follow the entire series make sure to bookmark our Man vs. Machine category for all the latest blog posts or follow us on twitter #humanvsmachine

Tech Solutions Can Engage or Disengage Your Customers

It was a semi-raining afternoon in Austin, 2012.  I had a check that I wanted to deposit into two different banks.  Something weird was about to happen to me. It wasn’t the weather — Austin’s ever changing weather is not weird.  It was the bank experience – how often do you have to go to the bank to deposit money? I, like many, do most of my banking online.  As luck would have it, within about a month of said semi-raining afternoon, my second bank had a built a branch directly across the street from the first bank (about 2 miles from my house). Score!

I go to the first bank with my check in hand. The drive-thru was full — I opted to go into the lobby. I was greeted by someone who took my wet umbrella and offered me paper towels, another offered me a fresh baked cookie, while a handful of others said “hello” and made small talk while I filled out my forms and waited in line. It was an explosion of customer service. I couldn’t have been in the bank longer than five minutes but  the sun was now out. In the time it took to sit through one light and get across the street to the second bank it was raining so hard my wipers could hardly keep up. Drive-thru all the way at the second bank. When I drove up I realized I was at an ATM and not the drive-thru (no place to use a container that goes with the air tubes, but there were several of these machines). I thought to myself, “That was stupid — how many ATMs do you need?” Forced to go inside, because seriously, I was not going to put the cash in the ATM, I saw something that I have never seen before — a large room of only high-end,  touch screen ATMs like the ones outside. No tellers behind a counter, no counter, no velvet ropes, no table to write out your deposit…. no cookies. Instead there was one man who stood behind a standing desk, a “teller” to assist you with using the machines. It was just us. I’ve seen nothing like this before, so I stood there dumbfounded and he calls over to me and asks if I need anything and I ask, “how do I deposit this cash?” and he points to the mass of empty machines and give me a “duh!” look to go with it. It was nothing like any of their other lobbies, which were all pretty tech-forward.  It didn’t FEEL like a bank lobby to me.

I’ve worked in the tech industry for a number of years, I like tech gadgets and tools that make things easier for me. I like stay on top of the trends. I’m not always an early adopter of new technology, but typically the second wave before it goes mainstream. My reaction surprised even me. Not only was it not what I expected. It didn’t make sense from a space and planning perspective or a customer experience. We have ways to deposit and transfer money online or through apps, why put in a room full of fancy ATMs? I did not have to go to the bank to make the deposit (either of them), but I wanted to see the new building, but more importantly,I wanted to make a connection.

From an HR perspective I can only guess what might happen if employees from one bank apply to work at the other since. An even better question, employees within the same bank want to transfer in or out of this location. These “tellers” will have totally different skill sets and maybe even career paths.  They likely even need different type of training. That is not necessarily a bad thing, it could very well be a good thing, but I wonder if anyone d given it proactive thought (and put some strategy around it).

Good technology, in my opinion, is engaging, makes logical sense, is easy to use, and helps create space for people to do “more with less.”  Change is good. New isn’t always a “change.” Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Sometimes people want to connect, technology should help enable, not eliminate, that.

What do you think? Ever have a similar experience with technology that left you a little disengaged?


Special thanks to this week’s theme sponsor, 1 Page Proposal. Learn more about their revolution of Human vs. Machine by clicking here or by visiting the hash tag on Twitter #humanvsmachine.

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Andrea Devers

Andrea is an HR technologist and change management expert. She’s has built her career in global HR Compliance, HR process improvement, and shared services across all functions of HR. Connect with Andrea.


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