In Which WestWorld No Longer Needs Robots
For those of you who may not know, I’m working as a contractor doing phone support for xfinity, possibly the stupidest name ever invented. Perhaps it’s the name that freaks me out, but the marketing guys outdid themselves finding a name that embodies fear and technology that screams – WE OWN YOUR SOUL.
And that’s just the employees!
During the Olympics, they incessantly ran a “This is your…” ad. The lulling, partially human voice brought memories of The Parallax View to mind. So, I put the two together.
What do you hate most about calling any 800 number for a company? The script, right? The defacto robotics of the person on the other end. Having gone through it, the word “training” for such jobs doesn’t do the process justice. “Inculcation” or “programming” comes closer, but still doesn’t quite capture the bizarrely meta outcome of what corporations want to achieve with the processing of its employees.
First, an anecdote.
During one “team meeting”, the Quality Assurance-bot joined the call to take questions about our script. We spent five minutes talking about whether inserting the word “please” into the script constituted grounds for a violation. She didn’t feel comfortable making a judgment call about that but assured us that she’d escalate it and come back with the proper procedure.
But it got better. After that, she said that most of us weren’t being “empathetic” enough. That led to a discussion of the difference between “empathy” and “sympathy”. Apparently, when some drunken redneck mom takes time off from beating her children to scream about how she can’t “‘member mah wahless passwerd”, many of us weren’t treating her with the dignity she deserves. That conversation took about 15mins.
Not enough? Ok – try this: A co-worker got told that he needed to use the word “frustrating” at least once during each “customer interaction” or he would get a warning. Why? Because it made us seem “more human”.
Of course, you could ditch the script all together and let your support-monkeys speak English. But that means losing control of “uniform customer experience”. You know, the thing that makes tech support such a joy to interact with.
Here’s the meta part and please forgive me if I come off sounding like Alex Jones.
What they want to do is strip employees of their human-ness, turning them into robots dependent on a script. Once that’s done, they tinker with the script to make their newly created robots sound human.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tripping right now.