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The Need For Complicated Systems

Users in India have, more so than often, been complaining about the complicated procedures involved in an otherwise simple process. Be it customer care of an MNC, or a daily walk into another Government office. The only certainty that one has in all these processes is that your requirement will most likely, NOT BE, fulfilled at a single interaction point. You will have to enter into a system of multiple interaction points with no clarity of which to approach & in what order. Lets take the example of a regular call centre first. We will try to take a deeper look into it in the coming 3 article series, which will deal with this in the following stages:

  1. Article 1: The Need of Complicated Systems & their utilities
  2. Article 2: Complicated Systems & their negative impacts
  3. Article 3: De-Complication

The usual protocol is that whatever problem or option it is that you are choosing, your call will land up in a sales department. The executive will follow a template trying to resolve your queries, & hence the “Can I put your call on hold for a minute, Sir?” protocol. If your answer is within the template, your problem might be resolved followed by a scheme or offering by the executive. In case, the template cannot resolve your query, your call will be redirected to team leader who will assure you that your situation will be resolved in less than 48 hours. In case, it doesn’t get resolved, and you dare call after 48 hours, your call will pass through the executive, team head to the technical support advisor who will resolve your query, or highlight your alternatives and your doubts will be answered in practice. Below is the process summary,

Interaction Points

If you apply the same situation to a Government office, the interaction point may be more and hence the resolution time of your query is relatively higher. If you would have landed up directly at Interaction point 3, your query would have been resolved in no time. But that happens rarely, given this is a highly generic scenario. And furthermore, this is a problem oriented scenario. There are many which are service oriented like the filing of returns, notarization of documents, registration certificates etc. the key question before we can apply any speedy solution to these scenarios is, What is the need for such complicate systems?

Though this question has no definite answer, we can look for probable answers in its utility.

  1. EMPLOYMENT: In a country like India, where the unemployment rate is significantly high. The more number of interaction points simply means employment. And given you don’t need skilled staff at most of these interaction points, it gives you flexibility to incorporate relatively lesser educated people. Also, the more complicated a certain process or procedure becomes, it gives origin to a number of services that offer to un-complicate it, or Do It For You.
  2. MONOTONOUS EFFICIENCY: When a person is dedicated to a similar kind of routine for days, months, years of their service. A monotony of work routine comes in and you begin to operate at relatively higher speeds with higher efficiency. Its analogous to how you learn to type faster on a keyboard without even looking at it.
  3. PSEUDO-ACHIEVEMENTS: Crossing every interaction point becomes a smaller achievement in the mind of the user. Every time they pass a certain interaction point, at some point, their mind gets relieved that this is something we have already dealt through and that they have walked a certain considerable distance towards their goal. These smaller interaction points become important milestones when it comes to the whole process/scenario.
  4. USER ENGAGEMENT: This one is tricky for the organization, government or otherwise. While going through various phases of a process, the user familiarises itself with the workings of the organization or government office. This creates a cloud of information regarding that infrastructure within the mind of the user that he is very much aware of. This can result either in retention of the user to that particular organization, or a break up depending upon how the user has taken the experience.

There are a plethora of similar reasons for the origin & sustenance of complicated systems. As much as they are utility based need creations, there are negative implications of the same too. This is something we will cover in the next article, wherein we will dig deeper into their effects.


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