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"Press ‘5’ for representative"

There’s no questioning that we, as a society, are implementing automated systems across almost all fronts. With social media creating a demand for instant information at the click of a button, industries like fast food, banking, and mortgages. Quicken Loans launched their primier mortgage application, ‘Rocket Mortgage’ in 2016, giving customers the ability to apply for a mortgage from their living-room couch. More and more apps are being developed daily to satisfy the demand for seamless technological interface, but the cost associated is sacrificing human interaction. What are the impacts of that cost?

One of my favorite commercial series comes from Discover. A customer calls in, anticipating an automated system to take their call, but surprisingly they are met with a live representative. The two then rejoice over the pleasure of having a human on the other end of the line. These commercials:

A) are hilarious, and

B) perfectly express the joy I feel when I’m speaking to a human rep, not an automated system.

I’m conflicted in that I, like everyone else, enjoy the dopamine dump that comes with using technology. The satisfaction that is associated with having endless entertainment and your fingertips is addicting. You mean I can order exactly what I want at a restaurant, immediately, without speaking to anyone? What a dream! Automation allows us to be more efficient in our actions, which in turn leaves us more time and brain power to spend it on things we actually enjoy.

That is, until I need help with my cable bill. Or my electricity. Automation is great until you’ve been told “Sorry, I didn’t get that. In a few words, please describe the nature of your issue” seven times in a row from the robot at customer service. I only want automation when it’s convenient for me! I want news at the press of a button, I don’t want to have to tune in to a news program at 6 am. I want text alerts when the Giants score a touchdown, I don’t want to be forced to stare at a TV for three hours (even though my eyes will be glued to Saquon Barkley for the next four months). Having things delivered isn’t a new idea, considering food delivery or the morning paper going on your doorstep. We love the efficiency of delivery, but are these systems effecting our social capacity? Spare me the human interaction, take me to the self-checkout line!

In October 2017, Fannie Mae released the results of a study on automation in the mortgage industry. It concluded that in-person interactions between lender and borrower was the least used medium of communication, behind phone and digital interactions. 35% of lenders viewed in-person communication as becoming somewhat less important moving forward, while 90% of borrowers expect to communicate by phone or in-person channels in the future. Clearly, there are different expectations from both groups. We as customers want to speak to other people, because we perceive that’s how to get things done.

But the truth is, the automated systems we disdain are going to get better. As technology and AI improve, the automated customer service machines will improve as well. There will be less headaches and the need for having an actual human being help you will diminish. The questions are: What about the DESIRE for connection with others? Are we going down a path that leads to solitude, or will the ways we interact adapt and change just like the technology we rely on? Am I just another spoiled millennial, or does this direction of technology transcend our culture and society?

Think about the positive and negative impacts automation has on you. And maybe you’ll have a conversation with the cashier at your grocery store.

Until next week,


The opinions expressed in this post are the sole view of the writer and do not reflect the opinion of Princeton Mortgage Corporation.

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