I'm a Christian, a designer, and a gadget fan who lives in Cheltenham, UK.

This is my blog, a creative outlet to mess around and play with as well as a place that logs my thoughts and inspirations.

Faceless

Yes­ter­day I encoun­tered some­thing at the bank which made me real­ly think about the way some ser­vices are pro­vid­ed. More specif­i­cal­ly it’s made me think about how tech­nol­o­gy is being intro­duced and tak­ing the place of humans.

As I’m sure many of you know, I like tech­nol­o­gy. It fas­ci­nates me and I believe used cor­rect­ly it can help us do many tasks. In fact I’d say pret­ty much every­one is helped by tech­nol­o­gy at some point in their day. It can save time for many tasks and add con­ve­nience of access.

In many cas­es tech­nol­o­gy and machines are being used to replace peo­ple, mak­ing the expe­ri­ence face­less. In fact there are many things which can now be done face­less­ly. I can pay for my shop­ping at the super­mar­ket on the self-ser­vice aisles, I can pay for my petrol at the pump and not the kiosk and I can with­draw mon­ey from my bank at a “hole in the wall”. All great imple­men­ta­tions which make the expe­ri­ence pain­less and quick. These imple­men­ta­tions are pop­ping up all over the place all aim­ing to speed up the process and pro­vide greater effi­cien­cy.

But is it always nec­es­sary?

These imple­men­ta­tions often speed process­es up. With­draw­ing mon­ey from the bank is great, I don’t have to go into the build­ing and I can do it when I need it. Sim­i­lar with the petrol. I can buy it from the pump, I don’t have to walk to the kiosk and leave my car. Yet why is it I pre­fer to pay at the kiosk?

In all hon­esty that’s just a per­son­al pref­er­ence. A lot of the time I want some­thing oth­er than petrol like a news­pa­per, which means I don’t have a lot of choice. I’m also lim­it­ed to pay­ing on my card and not by cash. But some times I want to be served by a per­son. Deal with some­thing face to face. Some­things just don’t feel right unless you deal with a per­son, some­things don’t need to be face­less.

Real­ly I’m talk­ing about the event that I was faced with yes­ter­day. I’m talk­ing about bank­ing. Hold on. Did­n’t I just say I like the con­ve­nience of using a cash machine? Well yes I did. But I’m talk­ing about bank­ing in the terms of going to the bank to pay mon­ey into my account. Yes­ter­day I was met with queues of peo­ple all wait­ing to do some form of bank­ing. Now on a sat­ur­day this is prob­a­bly pret­ty expect­ed. Except the queues weren’t for the counter, they were for machines, the coun­ters were all closed. I prompt­ly turned round and walked out. I’ll go to the bank in my lunch hour when I can pay my mon­ey into my account with a per­son at the counter.

I guess my point is this. There are some­things which should­n’t be face­less, pay­ing in mon­ey to the bank being one of them. Why? Because this kind of thing revolves around trust. I like to see the per­son I hand over my pay­ing in book to type in the dig­its and stamp my book, I then know my mon­ey has been paid in. A machine means I have to do it blind. I don’t get to watch my mon­ey being paid in to my account. If any­thing goes wrong there’s no phys­i­cal feed­back, no proof. There’s no smile and oppor­tu­ni­ty to ask a ques­tion on a whim, and I’m pret­ty sure it would take longer or the same amount of time to use the machine as it would to see a per­son. Some­times it feels like com­pa­nies are say­ing lets do this by machine because we can, let’s ignore the inter­ac­tion that occurs between our cus­tomers and employ­ees, it’s all the same end prod­uct. Ulti­mate­ly this can put cus­tomers off. I know I won’t be going back to that bank on sat­ur­day unless I have too. I’d rather go at a slight­ly more awk­ward time to do it face to face, gain­ing the reas­sur­ance of see­ing some­thing hap­pen in front of me and not when the machine is emp­tied and it’s con­tent processed.