Cherwell IT Service Management Blog
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Can Technology Get Out of the Way?

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Too Much TechnologyOffbeat Indie Pop star, St. Vincent, lilting voiced, sings, “Digital witnesses, what’s the point of even sleeping? If I can’t show it, if you can’t see, what’s the point of doing anything?”

She espouses the concern over technology’s influence over human behavior. Social media acts as validation for what we do with our time, and in skewed uses, creates the insatiable desire for constant validation and attention for everything we do. In the worst cases, exposure becomes the purpose for every move.

Facebook’s recent release of an experiment conducted in 2012 added to this mounting concern. Apparently, the Facebook and researchers found that they manipulate a user’s mood (represented through positive posts and likes) by controlling what appeared on their feed. Like St. Vincent’s concern, technology seems to be intruding on our time and behavior. Not only does technological capabilities propose new negative behaviors, but our behaviors can be intentionally manipulated through it.

These concerns over technology’s interaction with consumers is the same dynamic at the heart of Samsung’s recent marketing success and Apple’s recent snafus. Lately, Apple’s in-house commercials highlight features, showing people continuously engaged with their technology, and in a lot of uses you wouldn’t really think they belong. It’s unnatural to see a hockey coach holding an iPad, or sumo wrestlers reviewing footage, drawing lines and measuring angles. Worst of all, adding “your verse” seems contingent on the Apple technology itself. Of course, in real life, it isn’t. Apple’s out-of-house marketing is doing a better job at emphasizing a human experience of the potential capabilities in everyday use. Distanced from the technology, the out-of-house marketing team can offer the customer’s perspective.

Samsung’s commercials are doing even better on the Ace Metrix scoring than both Apple’s in-house and out-of-house marketing. Samsung captures everyday real life, and seems like it just so happens to include technology. For example, one of their commercials shows a series ideal human experience and family interactions, uninhibited by the need to fret over your smartphone’s safety. Another, Wall Huggers, recognizes the inconvenience of being constricted to an outlet at the airport. Rather than boasting what they can do for you, Samsung limits the interruptions of having to replace your phone, or sit by the outlet. They understand the pain points and show how they are doing something about it.

See, most people don’t engage with technology just because it exists, but because it fills a need. They are the same human needs that have always been around—human needs like being validated by others’ attention, being connected to others, or being free to go anywhere.

St. Vincent’s commentary, and Facebook’s report show how technology can heighten or skew the first two needs mentioned above. Samsung’s marketing shows how better technology can enable the human desire to go anywhere without constrictions—how technology can get out of the way.

This should be the aim of the service desk too. According to Malcom Fry, “True customer care is eliminating any interruptions in the first place.” A quality service desk detects issues before an incident is reported. Even if the service desk replies cordially, listens, and takes the necessary steps in fixing an issue, the customer probably still considers it a detour from her or his main purpose.

Of course, no service desk is perfect. When a customer does have an incident, take it as an opportunity to forge a positive relationship.

As we accept technology, the best providers will enable humans in their endeavors, rather than skewing them, or getting in their way.