Umbrage against the machine — The return of humans — Paul English

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Paul English

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Paul English

From Re/code

As humans, we crave contact with one another. From tiny newborn babies who need their mothers, to the elderly who long for their children, throughout all stages of our lives, we reach for each other. It’s always been this way. Technology can’t replace the very thing that makes us human.

Many years ago, I was left to care for my dad, who had early-stage Alzheimer’s. One of the first things I had to do was take away his car, as his driving had become dangerous. This was difficult. My Dad was a “car guy,” and he had taught me everything I know about cars — it was a love we shared together. Taking away his car left him incredibly isolated; he would try to call his friends during the day, only to be confused by answering machines that sounded like humans. Sometimes, Dad would even call companies who sent him bills, claiming he had questions, but really, I think he just wanted to reach out to another person. Again, he was foiled by the machines who told him to press 1 for this, and press 2 for that, always finding ways to keep him from connecting with an actual human.

As a response to this, I started GetHuman, a website that allows customers to call real people at big companies without having to wait on the line or go through a million robots. Today, GetHuman.com receives millions of visitors a month, helping people with customer service issues at places like Verizon and Comcast.

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Say “yes” to speak with a representative — service automation frustrating customers — Peter Weill

MIT Sloan Sr. Researcher Peter Weill

Have you tried to apply for a mortgage lately? If so, you might have some rather unpleasant memories of filling out endless forms and – if you had a question — trying to navigate through a voice recognition telephone system that didn’t understand you. If you were able to actually reach a real person, that employee might have been more focused on the procedure than actually listening to you. What is the result of this automation of processes? Not surprisingly, it’s disconnected and frustrated customers. Read More »

Yasheng Huang: Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women Initiative will help train the next generation of Chinese entrepreneurs

MIT Sloan Prof. Yasheng Huang

I am just back from an exciting weeklong trip to China to meet applicants for a new program MIT Sloan is helping develop at Yunnan University for women entrepreneurs. The program is part of Goldman Sachs’s 10,000 Women Initiative. Goldman’s initiative is a $100 million campaign designed to provide business and management education to promising female entrepreneurs in developing countries.

I met 15 candidates and found them each to be impressive – educated, articulate, and brimming with ideas. They have already experienced some success: some of them had at least 1 million yuan in revenue, which is about $150,000. Read More »