Upon further reflection, I realized that the attributes of the software support model are both present and emerging in other areas of business and life.
As one example, I am old enough that a portion of my Friday afternoons at university was spent standing in a line at my bank. The long line for the teller gave me enough time to fret about how much money I should withdraw. If I took too much out, there was a good chance that I would spend it all. On the other hand, if I took out too little, I might forego some big adventure with my friends since I had no weekend access to cash (or credit!) When I finally got to the front of the line, I would be greeted by a pleasant and competent man or woman with a wide range of banking skills and information that spent most of their day simply counting out money.
While it was tempting to herald the arrival of the Automated Teller (or Banking) Machine solely from the point of view of my changed elationship with my money, the real significance of the ATM (or ABM) was its transformation of the human resources profile of my bank. While fewer tellers were now required, the jobs of the remaining tellers became much more interesting since they no longer spent most of their day counting money. In fact, most of their business now consists of “corner cases” brought by people like me who have been unable do what they need to do using the ATM, telephone banking, or the internet.
In other words, the banking industry has adopted a tiered approach to customer support. My bank, through its web site, telephone banking service, and ATM equip me to do both self and first line (Tier 0 and 1) support using machines to do what machines do best. If tier 2 support is needed, I turn to the teller who is able to use his or her generalist skill set to tackle my corner case. If additional support is needed, the teller can hand me off to the loans officer, the branch manager, or even the district manager or the bank head office for specialized tier 3 support.
Doesn’t that sound a lot like the software support model?