Despite this, we never really think about the crazy-fast phone evolution. That’s because IVR is just one indicator of a growing trend in commercial America: self-service.
We’ve grown accustomed to doing things ourselves that were previously exclusively done by hired humans.
We select, scan and bag our own groceries. We print our own boarding passes and check our own luggage. We log online to book hotels and shop for everything from clothing to canoes. We even handle most of our own banking.
We don’t think about not doing it ourselves because self-service today is normal.
In 1916, when Clarence Saunders opened the very first Piggly Wiggly in Memphis, there was nowhere else in America, says the Economist, that had customers actually go into the aisles, pick out their groceries and carry them to the cashier.
That’s a far cry from the self-service machines of today, but all along the self-serve path, opponents have shouted the same mantra; “Machines are replacing humans.”
Turns out, that’s not true.
The truth is that while self-service innovation is changing the way our stores look, it’s actually benefiting the economy.
Robert Atkinston, president of the non-partisan research group Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, testified in front of the U.S. Congress saying just that:
Properly conceived, innovation is not just about creating more jobs for engineers and managers in high-technology industries…It is also about providing higher wage jobs for workers in manufacturing and low-tech services.
According to an article from the Economist, companies that switch from a fully man-powered call center to an IVR solution cut costs from $7/call to just $0.10/call.
That same money-saving principle applies to most self-service swaps.
The corporate savings mean not only new development (creating both manufacturing and engineering jobs), but higher wages for workers and lower prices for consumers.
Not only that, but self-serve lines are almost always shorter and faster.
This is probably why so many Americans, corporations and consumers alike have switched to self-service.