The week in work: This week: customer service, Chipotle, sick leave, poverty, a cow, some sheep, and a Franken-monkey.
Like Uber, but for complaining about Uber
A new app simply called Service has big plans to disrupt corporate customer service by sucking any remaining humanity out of the system. Right now, the app is basically just an engine for filling out contact-us forms, allowing jilted customers to easily complain about the petty wrongs of consumer capitalism without expending all the time and emotional labor that go into actually articulating a negative comment to another human being, and then being soothed about it.
But their plans are bigger: the founders & funders of Service think it’s possible to fully automate the resolution to 80% of complaints by replacing cubicle farms of people reading from call center customer-service scripts with server farms matching complaints and resolutions via algorithm. Perhaps the remaining 20% will mostly be handling 1-star iTunes reviews of the Service app itself?
Chipotle makes a public health argument
Chipotles across the country are shutting down — again. But this time it’s the opposite of an E. Coli & norovirus deep-clean. Instead, the chain is holding store meetings to explain new company-wide food safety policies intended to ensure This Never Happens Again. A lot of it is stuff like blanching onions and getting food centrally chopped, but there’s one new and interesting piece: Chipotle is apparently going to offer all employees paid sick time “to ensure that ill employees have no incentive to work while ill.”
ALICE works in a restaurant
The United Way has released a report which finds that in addition to the 13% of Washington households that live in poverty, another 19% have incomes and assets so low that a single incident like a car repair or a serious illness could trigger a household crisis.
The framing of the study is a little odd — they call these households “ALICE” because it’s a cute acronym for “asset limited, income constrained, employed.” Also, they say, they want to avoid using the phrase “working poor” because “it has sort of a negative connotation to it” and they prefer to “create a language around really hard-working Americans who deserve respect and deserve help.” Because apparently some people do deserve poverty?
It’s good research and compelling numbers, but if all goes well for the authors here, we expect that pretty soon they’re going to want to get away from saying ALICE. Because negative connotations will inevitably grow up around any term that attempts to capture the extent of our inequality and poverty crisis.
Tails I win, heads you lose
A brown-and-white cow fled a Queens slaughterhouse for obvious reasons, visibly “very happy” and acting “like ‘wow, I’m in the streets running!’” Witnesses report the cow “didn’t do anything to anybody,” but its scheduled execution has not been stayed.
A flock of sheep helped New Zealand authorities capture four fugitives who had eluded pursuit, simply by being in the way of the road in that way they do. The sheep belonged to a police officer who was not otherwise involved in the case.
And a joint Chinese & Italian surgical team claims to have successfully transplanted a monkey head, but it’s not clear what they did with the other monkey head and the other monkey body. They killed the Frankenmonkey after 20 hours for “ethical reasons”, and they say it’s all preparation for a human head transplant they’re planning for Christmas 2017.