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   Re: [xml-dev] XML-based Automation (Was: Zen or Games?)

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In a message dated 26/06/2003 18:16:53 GMT Daylight Time, grimlinda@earthlink.net writes:

OK, after my rant on automated voice systems, let me play devil's advocate for just a moment- not sure my heart's in it, but I'll give it a try. 

I have gotten equally, if not more, frustrated with human customer support interactions- try calling your medical insurance provider one day for a virtually guaranteed example.
While we carry on about the risks of allowing a computer to make a decision, human judgement is also inherently flawed (look at the decision to go into Iraq- oops- just got political).  


I don't think anyone claims that human judgement is free from flaws. Or huge mistakes.

But one aspect of human judgement / behaviour is that, at some point, the human can often be encouraged / brought to realise the implications of what they are doing. For example, Tony Blair is having a hard time in and around the UK parliament for "Blair-faced lies" ... oops, creative interpretation ... that found their way into the various Iraq dossiers.

A similar (beneficial) process is (usually) operative when you deal with human customer support. You can shout, wheedle, ask to speak to a supervisor etc etc. Or just ring back in the hope of getting someone less incompetent. The key pressure-release valve for the user/customer is that a human can (usually) be brought to vary its response depending on the data you feed it or the method of feeding it the data.

The assumption ... should that be "the arrogance"? ... of many automated systems, XML-based or otherwise, is that all angles are covered. Inevitably that means that it is assumed there are no significant edge cases. So, often, the perception is that no fall-back mechanism is needed or provided. So the customer becomes more and more and more frustrated if their circumstances do not meet the "standard" scenarios.

Andrew Watt

And it's not necessarily due to lack of good information.  The nice thing about computers is that they have no axes to grind other than the ones they have been programmed with, don't suffer from PMS or other emotional disorders and aren't in a bad mood from dealing with the kids and a checkbook that is always in the red. To use Steve's example, if I am coming home drunk and disorderly, my judgement just may fail me at the critical moment when I turn on that light myself.

So, my question is (and it's not entirely tongue in cheek): can automated computer service systems ever hope to provide a level of service  that, while not perfect, is at least in some respects the equal of that provided by the average human customer service interaction?  And what kinds of service scenarios are best left to humans, and what kinds to computers?  I don't necessarily think that only the plebes will get XML automated services, while those who pay will get humans.  I think it will depend on the service type- and the plebes may get the humans who hear voices...


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