Tuesday, October 29, 2013

To ‘self-service’ or not to

Recently I was on Schiphol airport, where I did engage with some new self-service facilities.
In general I do like technology innovations. However, they should be easy to use and these self-service facilities should work faster and with less faults/mistakes than human beings.
That was not the case, so I think that these facilities were not professionally enough to be used.

Let me share some examples.

For the passport control there was a row of machines installed, which were supposed to read my passport and literally open the gate if I was cleared to proceed. However, I would say that it didn’t work for one in four of the cases, so there were still two officers there to do the manual check. I did ask one of them what their experience was and he said that they (police) were not ready to accept these machines from the airport yet, as they were not working properly. So, clearly the testing of the machines was not done properly and the travellers were used as guinea pigs.

Then I did proceed to some machines from my bank to exchange some currency. I did follow the procedure and the machine said that my card was not accepted. That is quite strange as I am a customer from that bank and earlier that day, my card did work fine. Okay, what to do next, as the machine didn’t work and I still needed my Australian dollars! After checking the area for a while, I did find a bank office with real human beings, yeah! They did confirm that these automatic machines didn’t work in some cases. Then they did offer me to fill in a complaint form and they confirmed my remark that nobody would read it anyway. They did suggest using Twitter for that.  Also they did mention that many of them were being laid off, because they were too expensive. Clearly here, the bank has to make sure that their machines are fail-safe, before they are rolled out.  Imagine that they would not accept my card and I would have no alternative.

I am only in favor of self-service facilities when they work better and faster than human beings. And only when they are properly tested before implementation. In many cases, human beings do a better job than machines!

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

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