May the 4th (IR) be with you this Star Wars day!


As May 4th marks Star Wars day, I find myself thinking about the films somewhat anti-technology viewpoint, or rather, its message of not letting technology override human intuition, or ‘the force.

This got me pondering about how the digitisation of our world has changed so much about how we interact, or no longer interact, and I wondered if anyone else out there is craving good old- fashioned human contact?

I think that I may have just reached that stage. We shop online, we ‘socialise’ online, we don’t even need to talk to anyone to order a taxi anymore. Then there’s that watch. You know the sort: the one connected to your phone. It seems to know more about one’s health than even your doctor does.

So yes, we may have chosen to surround ourselves with technology and embrace digitisation, but does that mean that we want for nothing more? The next time I pick up the phone and use it to make a phone call (I think phones are still capable of that?), wouldn’t it be nice to connect with a human being? But alas, that never seems to be the case as far as the customer experience (CX) is concerned.  Does that mean we’re all doomed and fated for a lonely existence? Are we to be cast into oblivion, or will the Empire strike back?

“I’m only a droid” – 3-CPO

Perhaps you’re not overly concerned with my personal experience on the matter, after all, we’ve all lost that personal touch, but I’m going to tell you anyway. Today was the day that my dishwasher decided it was done. Error code after error code and noises that wouldn’t sound out of place during an intergalactic battle. I reached out for help. First off, I thought I could find a telephone number, but oh no, it was never going to be that easy. I spent a good 20 minutes trying to persuade a chatbot that I needed to actually speak to someone. I’m not sure if a chatbot recognises writing in capitals as aggressive and angry but I threw plenty of exclamation marks in for good measure. Finally, with a phone number at hand, I was ready to talk to someone and I thought that would be my issues resolved.  This is when I realised that I would have been better off as the glass-half-empty kind of gal. Would you believe I spent 35 minutes on the phone? 35 minutes stuck with a God-awful automated system that had no clue what I needed. Is it just me, or does anyone detest these darn creations?

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

I’d reached the stage where I’d had enough and wanted no more to do with this company that couldn’t even answer my phone call. It appears that perhaps it’s not just me that has these feelings and frustrations around AI and digitisation. Research suggests that a whopping 86% of people just like me would rather speak to a human than an automated system. And 71% claim that the lack of human interaction could turn them away from a brand altogether.

The thing is you see, digitisation is great. If it weren’t for technology, you wouldn’t even be reading this (and I have no doubt you’ll be reading to the end!), but we are social creatures and we all need a degree of interaction. If tech makes my life easier and the customer experience more straightforward forward then of course I’m all for it, but it seems that certain companies use tech for the sake of using tech, claiming that it improves their CX. The truth, however, is that there is no consideration given to the end-user experience.

“May the force be with you” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

I am keen to stress that I am not a Luddite. I have no desire to start a rebellion, in fact I’m a bit of an Ewoks fan and they were more tech-obsessed than a certain Mr. Musk. Speaking of Mr. Musk, and just how dark things can get,  who can ignore Tesla making headlines recently when two men lost their lives while using the auto-pilot feature in one of their electric cars.

My issue is that it’s all gone too far. If companies would take a moment to listen, perhaps they would see that we’re not impressed by the fancy system that they’ve just paid millions to install. Was it for us, the customer? Was to improve their CX? No, it benefited them and them alone.

As we venture through the darkness brought by this technological rain cloud, stay strong my friends. No doubt change will come, but until then, May the 4th be with you!

For more insights on digitisation and CX, read my previous blog on Empathy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.