Does automation make us lose the human touch?

August Blog image 2016

Automation isn’t a new thing. We tend to think of robots and computers in conjunction with automation but, in fact, it has pretty much underpinned most of what we consider progress since the industrial revolution. It should be, and in fairness usually is a good thing. For example, I doubt there are many of us who would swap the automatic washing machine for an old tub and paddle, or our computers for a typewriter. (I did love my electric typewriter though back in the day)

As frustrating as it can be at times and as tempting as it sometimes is to want to throw the tech away and return to a simpler life for the most part automation makes life simpler and easier. However, there is one area where I must admit I think automation is a double edged sword, and that is when the task requires something that we tend to define as ‘the human touch’.

We are in the business of working with people here. A great deal of what we do impacts directly on the lives of real people who are going about their business in the real world. There is a responsibility to produce the right result when we are dealing with areas such as auto-enrolment pensions, payroll, and working compliance. This is no less true when we are managing credit control because while this may seem less directly related to individuals they are the grease that oils the wheels of the business and as such, ensure the continued success for our clients. To do these things successfully, you need to be able to relate and empathise with the needs of the businesses that we look after. It’s a partnership, and that means working together.

That is not to say that we are all sitting here working on an abacus. However we focus on partnership and more importantly standard of service so although we may be a bit be in the race for automation we are certainly not when it comes to exceptional service.

A few months ago I read an article about the likelihood of particular jobs being replaced by machines. It makes an interesting read from a hypothetical point of view, but I simply cannot see it here. A business is built on the people in it, not the machines that run it. I think to know how to work with a business you need to know who the business is just as much as what it does.

Remember the plastic pals from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy referring to what were supposed to be genuine people personalities which had been installed in robots. Naturally, the personalities were less than popular and rather unpleasant to deal with. As indeed, for me at least, are businesses that over-automate to the point where there is no real interaction left. That touch of humanity, those little talents, flaws, habits, and individualities are part of what makes life interesting. So feel free to call us up to talk and we will have time for you because we like ‘the human touch’ here at Back Office Support Services.

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