When Automation Fails


Systems, automation, and streamlining processes are generally strong steps toward success.  The question is, when does automation fail? I am a huge proponent of systems creation and implementation but I often overlook the weak points in automation systems.

Today I visited a store that had changed to all self checkout lanes.  There were now 5 employees standing around while a line of 20 customers continued to build behind “express” checkout lanes.  I jokingly said out loud “how’s everyone liking these express lanes?”.  I got a laugh from the crowd, but in reality the customers were all confused as to why they now had to ring themselves out and wait longer in line for something named “express”.

Automation is something wonderful when it solves an internal problem or makes you and your team more available for customer face time.  Automation kills when it takes you away from being the solution delivery person.

Before you implement the new automation system, make sure it only builds your customer time, and doesn’t take away from it.  Automation fails when it puts a bunch of loyal customers in group and forgets that they matter A LOT.  Automation fails when it steals you away from making a personal connection with each customer partner for your business.