There are some claims that market solutions will automatically fix any problem, but those claims don't always work out.
That's an ad someone was running for a few months on Facebook in order to try to find a human at Google to help them because every conventional technique they had at their disposal failed. Google has perhaps the most advanced ML in the world, they're as market driven as any other public company, and they've mostly tried to automate away service jobs like first-level support because support doesn't scale. As a result, the most reliable methods of getting support at Google are
If you don't have direct access to one of these methods, running an ad is actually a pretty reasonable solution. (1) and (2) don't always work, but they're more effective than not being famous and hoping a blog post will hit HN, or being a paying customer. The point here isn't to rag on Google, it's just that automated customer service solutions aren't infallible, even when you've got an AI that can beat the strongest go player in the world and multiple buildings full of people applying that same technology to practical problems.
While replacing humans with computers doesn't always create a great experience, good computer based systems for things like scheduling and referrals can already be much better than the average human at a bureaucratic institution2. With the right setup, a computer-based system can be better at escalating thorny problems to someone who's capable of solving them than a human-based system. And computers will only get better at this. There will be bugs. And there will be bad systems. But there are already bugs in human systems. And there are already bad human systems.
I'm not sure if, in my lifetime, technology will advance to the point where computers can be as good as helpful humans in a well designed system. But we're already at the point where computers can be as helpful as apathetic humans in a poorly designed system, and that's a significant fraction of service jobs.
Thanks to Leah Hanson for extensive comments on this, and to Josiah Irwin for a correction.
I wonder if a deranged version of the law of one price applies, the law of one level of customer service. However good or bad an organization is at customer service, they will create or purchase automated solutions that are equally good or bad.
At Costco, the checkout clerks move fast and are helpful, so you don't have much reason to used to automated checkout. But then the self-checkout machines tend to be well-designed; they're physically laid out to reduce the time it takes to feed a large volume of stuff through them, and they rarely get confused and deadlock, so there's not much reason not to use them. At a number of other grocery chains, the checkout clerks are apathetic and move slowly, and will make mistakes unless you remind them of what's happening. It makes sense to use self-checkout at those places, except that the self-checkout machines aren't designed particularly well and are often configured so that they often get confused and required intervention from an overloaded checkout clerk.
The same thing seems to happen with automated phone trees, as well as both of the examples above. Local Health has an online system to automate customer service, but they went with Epic as the provider, and as a result it's even worse than dealing with their phone support. And it's possible to get a human on the line if you're a customer on some Google products, but that human is often no more helpful than the automated system you'd otherwise deal with.[return]