The ‘future of work’ is the question on everyone’s mind within any profession. It’s the concept of the future changes that gets everybody thinking what will be different in generations to come in terms of operating businesses? It’s questions like these that sparks my imagination of robots ‘making everything easier’. But will it have a major effect on the jobs already performed by the human race? No one is certain. This podcast (with transcript) draws on the conversations with the big bosses of major corporations, educators and students. The main topics are the issues embedded into the future of work such as; the impact of artificial intelligence, automation on work and jobs, and whether we’ll have enough work and jobs after that.
With the growing of newer, more advanced technologies, it’s the underlying questions of who/what will fit the roles of creativity, operations management and most of all customer service. This highlights my main question; how will the relationships between employees and customers be shifted into the future of work?
To me customer service revolves around interacting and connecting with customers on a professional yet personal level. As figured, almost every business in Australia and across the globe interact with customers. This means that customers make up almost the entire population because everyone buys something at some stage in their life. But it’s the interaction we have with customers that build upon their overall experience. Whether it’s small talk, a conversation or a smile, it’s what we do that has the ability to change the way another person goes about their day. It’s an emotional experience really. Touching more on emotions, compassion in particular.
When I think of compassion in the workplace, I picture the sharing of stories, getting to know someone even it’s for less than 5 minutes of the day. It’s these qualities that I believe cannot be imitated by the imagined robots and artificial intelligence. I found a small blog written by The Ritz-Carlton (a leadership organisation) where they write of the important factors of compassion and customer service and where the two should be blended pointing out to make time for caring & make yourself pay attention.
Looking back at the overall point of my babbling, we build a short or long-term connection with customers so how would that be replaced by a machine? Who would be there to smile and ask how our day was going? Who is going to pick up on the emotions of others and show compassion? Amongst the immense of research Forbes states that “Jobs that require one-on-one connection such as education and hospitality, will firmly rely on people’s hands”. They also state that 45% of jobs can be automated with 60% of their work can be done by machines. But in terms of building those compassionate relationships with customers, advanced technology simply cannot compete. Robots are no longer a myth, the 21st century is becoming competent in terms of learning and building bigger and better technology that will in fact risk the tasks undertaken by us today. Customer service will always justify itself on the interactions with one another and compassion adds a personal touch on other’s overall experience.
Reflecting on my main question I can recall over hundreds of events where showing compassion in my profession has in fact benefited others. Working in hospitality as a barista, the ability of having those one-on-one connection with another person has in fact shaped me to become the person I am today. I’ve always loved hearing the stories of others, getting to know the strangers who I serve for those five or so minutes of interaction. The more I learn about other people, the more I begin to situate myself in the world (broad I know) but hearing the stories and lifestyles of others puts a lot of things into perspective.
I could share pages and pages of recounted stories I’ve heard but the main highlight of my job is having a mindset of me being the first smile, first interaction and first connection with another person for some. I share my mornings with several ‘regular’ customers who over two wholesome years have become more than acquaintances. A man with insomnia whose wife works across the country and shares a bed with his best friend, his dog most nights. As he sits patiently for me to slowly wake and flick the store lights on, he smiles and greets me a good morning at the sound of the roller door.
“I didn’t sleep much last night man, I miss her every day but it’s what keeps the roof over my head”.
I spend the first 10 minutes of my Monday morning shifts sharing conversation and I watch his face come alight at the first sip of the golden goodness. Every Monday morning, every week for two years, we’ve shared so much and made such an impact on each other. Compassion to me is being able to share.
The future of work and compassion is questioned, and we fear our jobs taken by machines. It’s the fear of where customer service will be in ten years or more that creates the questions we have today. Automation and artificial intelligence may evidently make our lives much easier in terms of performing tasks, but it may not be able to fill the emotional needs of individuals. We can’t connect through a monitor, compassion is felt through emotions not a computer screen at request. It’s a human factor we celebrate.
Manyika (2017), ‘What is the future of work?’, Online Article, McKinsey & Company (https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-organizations-and-work/what-is-the-future-of-work)
Vocabulary.com (2018), ‘Compassion – Dictionary Definition’, Online https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/compassion
The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Centre (2015), ‘Compassion and Customer Service’, Online Blog, June 3rd, 2015 (http://ritzcarltonleadershipcenter.com/2015/06/compassion-and-customer-service/)
M. Sawhney (2018), ‘As Robots Threaten More Jobs, Human Skills Will Save Us’, Online Article, Forbes.com, March 10th, 2018 (https://www.forbes.com/sites/mohanbirsawhney/2018/03/10/as-robots-threaten-more-jobs-human-skills-will-save-us/#4582e6563fce)