Thursday, October 31, 2019

Computer flow charts

Do you remember computer flow charts?

Mrs ERJ called her credit card company to inform them that she will be traveling in the near future.

It turned into a surreal experience when the customer service representative started asking off-the-wall questions.

The deeper into the exchange, the more off-the-wall the questions became.

Our best guess is that the customer service representative had been given a branching flow chart. If she had a caller with a home equity loan the tree branched one way. If the customer was a credit card holder the tree branched a different way. If they had a mortgage with the bank, the tree branched a third way.

In retrospect, the customer service representative was reading across, left-to-right, row-by-row asking the questions regardless of Mrs ERJ's answers.

The managers who assembled this instruction or job-aid assumed that the workers would be familiar with flow-charts. After all, how smart does a customer service representative need to be? They need to know how to read and use a phone.

Bad assumption.

It was like the time one of Mrs ERJ's supervisors handed her a package of Avery, pre-cut sticker labels and made it a job requirement that she use them. The supervisor assumed Mrs ERJ knew that Word had a template that would put the right information in the right places. What the supervisor spaced was the fact that not all employees had attended the training seminar that taught workers that MS Word had templates.

Those of us who have been around the block a few times can read flow charts and process flow charts with ease. We know the rules.

Younger people who think programming is what you look up to see when Dancing with Stars airs or something you do with your TiVo are mystified by a branching flow chart.

Just a reminder: Don't assume that because you know something or it is second nature to YOU, it will be something your worker will know how to do or will instinctively do.

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