I have a pet peeve with bad customer service. It irks me like nothing else, particularly in the past few years, when it’s become increasingly obvious that the majority of us will be replaced by robots. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against robots. For that matter, I welcome our new overlords, if for nothing else than because they’ll be able to retroactively read all that’s been written about them (ahem, my blog). So I’m careful to say only kind things about them, lest I be targeted as a non-believer. Believe me, you never want to be on the wrong side of an Inquisition.
Be that as it may, I think there are certain jobs that are far from being taken over by machines, except that people (read: morons) are routinely working against themselves and actually helping along the process to full automation. Take for instance my last trip to the post office, where I had a pre-paid, pre-labeled box that the attendant refused to take unless I queued up for 20 minutes. Or my last trip to the mechanic, where I had to convince the mechanic to look at my car and take my money. Ok, the last one was an anomaly, as mechanics are usually pretty good at taking lots of your money for zero work, but I’m trying to make a point.
I for one love to go to local shops. I like to talk to shop owners. I like to take their view on what the most comfortable item is, what wines to avoid, and what Thai sauce will definitely extend my stay abroad (in a bathroom, no less). So, it’s in my best interest that these people stay employed.
Sure, I can order 20 pairs of jeans from Amazon, but Amazon Robot won’t tell me my ass looks too fat in them. I can order a helmet from Cycle Gear, but the digital assistant won’t tell me that my head’s obviously too big for any of them (as is usually the case). So really folks, stop going the extra mile to help obsolete your jobs. Here are some random tips:
- Offer something the customer can’t get on-line: your expertise, your jokes, or your viewpoint that the customer looks absurd in that Spider-Man outfit, whatever.
- Take your time to explain things to a customer, instead of pointing them to a web page. You do that one too many times, and it doesn’t take a slave driver to start getting ideas about replacing you with a URL.
- Don’t give canned responses. Siri can do that much better than you.
- Smile. Robots are notoriously bad at smiling.
- And really…if you don’t stock an item, don’t offer to order it, only to do so from Amazon while the customer is standing right there. Seriously.
And here are a few tips for choosing careers in the post singularity world:
- Become a massage therapist. It’s a well known fact that robots are shit at giving massages.
- Become a cook. Robots have no taste buds, and besides it’s all very subjective anyhow.
- Choose a career that requires the most interaction with actual people. For example, if you’re going to med school don’t choose radiology as your residency, robots can already do better than you. And.. closely behind is anesthesiology, it’s only a matter of time before algorithms can do that shit too. Perhaps good robot resistant specialties could be plastic surgery, proctology, or highly subjective ones like psychiatry.
And if all else fails, consider robot social work. I’m sure they’ll get fed up with repetitive work like the rest of us.