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.