Hearts And Minds

Entry by: Wren

4th November 2016

"George, thanks for dropping by."

"Not at all David, how can I help?"

"I've been looking over the quarterly figures, and your team's performance is really very impressive."

"Oh, thanks, we try our best."

"I can see that from the figures George, but it's you that impresses too - the way your manage your team."

"Thank you David, I've always thought it was important to take people with us. To share with them the 'why' as well as well as the 'how'".

"Quite so, quite so, George. And what do you think are the three most important 'whys', George?"

"Well, we have to give excellent customer services, ensure our customers enjoy value for money and add shareholder value."

"Excellent George, I couldn't have put that better myself!"

"[laughs] Well, it is pinned up on the wall of every office, David."

"That's true George, but you've taken that Corporate message to heart - put the theory into practice. That's what's so impressive, and that's why I've asked you here today, George."

"Is it?"

"Oh yes, you see I want you to spearhead a new initiative, George."

"Really, that sounds exciting! What is it?"

"Oh, it is exciting George, but first I must ask you to keep this to yourself for now."

"Why is that?"

"All in good time George. First, I need you to understand that we have to transform the business."

"Do we? I thought you just said that the figures are good?"

"Oh they are George, they are! But we can't stand still. We operate in a competitive environment. We have to innovate constantly to keep our place at the top of the pile - you do understand that, don't you George?"

"Yes, I suppose so...So what's the plan?

"In a word George - automation!"

"Automation? But we aren't a factory David, we're a call centre."

"Quite so George, on the ball as ever...but you see it's not just factories that can be transformed by automation these days, it's businesses like ours, too."

"In what way?"

"Well George, voice recognition software is now quite remarkable. The boffins have developed a series of open and closed questions that lead to a sale. What's more they have quite astounding algorithms that can recognise region accents, slang and, well...the gramatical quirks of our less educated customers."

"That's all very well David, but I think what our customers value is the personal touch. Not to mention the ability to accommodate the wide range of their needs and demands."

"You're quite right, George. But do you know these voice synthesizers are quite remarkable now. They can generatre all kinds of voices, different sexes, every race, quick or slow, high or low, agressive or compliant, affectionate or strict - you really would think you were chatting with a real person."

"But what about the different scenarios we have to deal with? All the different quirks and predilictions that our customers have. You know that many of them are not run of the mill."

"Oh, we've spent months analysing our calls, George. We've got the software generating an almost infinite numer of scenarios. You really ought to try it - it made my hair stand on end, I can tell you!"

"But David, what about warmth and empathy - can a machine immitate that? You know very well that the connection with our customers is, well...intimate."

"I hear what you're saying George, but this has all been thought through at the top of the tree. We go live next month."

"Next month?..but where do I come in?"

"We need your people skills, George."

"People skills? But I thought we were automating?"

"We are George, but we need your people skills, because we need to let so many people go."


"George, you're just the person to explain the, really rather generous, severence package. Not to mention, helping people understand the big picture."

"The big picture?"

"Yes, you remember - customer service, value for money and adding shareholder value. Especially that last one, by the way."

"And after we've let everyone go...?"

"Oh not everyone, George, just about 80% of the workforce. We'll still need some staff to deal with complaints, service the servers, clean the office...all sorts of things."

"I see..."

"Yes George, isn't it exciting? You will be part of the World's first fully automated sex chat-line!"