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Old 06-05-2019, 04:44 PM
 
Location: Ohio
19,683 posts, read 14,144,272 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pvande55 View Post
In the economic numbers on productivity, I wonder how much of it has been achieved by making the customer do more of the work.
Again, the only correct and proper measure of productivity is labor hours per unit volume, not price.

Charlatans employ price.
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Old 06-05-2019, 04:48 PM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
8,081 posts, read 2,816,523 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mircea View Post
Again, the only correct and proper measure of productivity is labor hours per unit volume, not price.

Charlatans employ price.
Which has what to do with pushing work off on customers?
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Old 06-06-2019, 10:27 AM
 
Location: Portugal
5,844 posts, read 2,845,102 times
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You used to have to tell a long distance number to an operator?

Wow.
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Old 06-06-2019, 10:32 AM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
8,081 posts, read 2,816,523 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lieqiang View Post
You used to have to tell a long distance number to an operator?

Wow.
Direct-dial didn't come to some regions until the 1970s, I believe.

Of course, now there's no such thing as long distance. Nearly everything is flat-rate.

The real PITA wasn't "long distance" - everyone knew that cost extra and by the minute - but in some cities calling was zoned - calls in your zone were free or under your basic plan, calls a little further away cost a bit, a little further cost more, and so on.

Arthur C Clarke casually predicted the end of long distance charges in 2000 - that's as of 2000, in about a 1965 short story. Man was a freakin' witch.
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Old 06-06-2019, 10:51 AM
 
Location: Seattle
523 posts, read 132,159 times
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Ikea ready-to-assemble furniture. I wonder if those save on shipping charges as well?
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Old 06-06-2019, 11:05 AM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjshae View Post
Ikea ready-to-assemble furniture. I wonder if those save on shipping charges as well?
Anyone who's bought custom finished furniture knows it's very expensive to have shipped, even from a manufacturer to a store/depot. So yes, shipping a bunch of 100% density boxes is far cheaper in bulk than shipping those items at 10% density.

Not sure if Ikea assembly is a productivity issue or not, though. You are generally paying a lot less for that bookcase than a finished one, so...
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Old 06-07-2019, 04:08 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
17,739 posts, read 53,869,694 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pvande55 View Post
In the economic numbers on productivity, I wonder how much of it has been achieved by making the customer do more of the work. Saw it first in the phone companies when they made you dial long distance numbers. Then the oil companies joined in by making the customer pump the fuel. Fast food: I remember when those behind the counter poured the drinks (oh well, at least you get free refills). Airlines still handle checked baggage for a fee for those remaining ones but most carry their own bags. Other examples?
Are you confusing material goods productivity with service industry efficiency? Those are different classifications. Both have a throughput and worker efficiency component, but in service industry there is a balance between throughput and shrinkage.

Self service drink dispensers have fast throughput, and the cost of shrinkage is minimal, due to the high profit margin on the product. In a theatre, the candy bars are still doled out by a concession attendant because shrinkage costs would immediately overwhelm any sales throughput increases.

Telephone company efficiency isn't a terribly good example, as the technologies involved were a natural progression, and the inefficiencies of early implementations were costs passed on to customers to the point of slowing growth. What started as hand-keyed telegraph messages morphed into teletype, telegraph terminals, and most expensively, inefficient telephones. Switching gear and multiplexing were always going to happen, and the human employees other than technicians and construction crews were stopgap temporary fixes from the beginning.

Payroll costs have become a disproportionate expense in service industries that attempt to compete at selling fungibles, especially when sales are uneven over the course of a worker's shift.

I'll use the example of the self-serve soda fountain in a movie theatre. Customers arrive at a concession counter in clots, as the starting time of a feature approaches. The optimal length of a concession line is three people per cashier (for various reasons beyond the scope of this example). Each order might have two soft drink requests. Fill time on average, from choice selection to cup filled and lidded on counter, with a fast worker, will be at least 20 seconds and more likely about 35 seconds with ice scooping, lid fumbling, foam slopping, and such. The entire potential sales time might be as short as ten minutes, as people arrive late and want to get in prior to the movie starting.

By shunting that process to the customer, and only having the attendant proffer the cup, one attendant can serve as many as twice the number of customers in the same short ten minute sales opportunity.

Yes, we measured dollars of sales generated per work hour as part of the metrics. The reality was that if levels weren't met, the budget got reduced until it did, or it became more cost effective to cut hours or even cut sales entirely. (Don't get me started on General Cinemas misguided attempts at vending machine concessions.)

With movie theatres, efficiencies also increased with multiplex theatres with staggered showtimes, allowing far more productive hours per shift and a smoothing of sales per hour. No customer work required.

Self checkouts will reach a balancing point. Sadly, a likely limiting factor will be increased shrinkage in impoverished areas, making retailers pull out completely rather than continue to use cashiers.
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Old 06-07-2019, 07:57 AM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
Self checkouts will reach a balancing point.
I hope so, and soon, and on the edge of a very high cliff, so I can flick them off with one middle finger.
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Old 06-07-2019, 02:57 PM
 
4,479 posts, read 3,130,238 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quietude View Post
That's an interesting question, but I'm not quite sure how to parse it.

Has productivity increased because we now rely on thousands of brief-term "temporary workers" - us consumer types? Or because stores and services deliver more with continually shrinking employee count - largely due to various forms of automation? Or both?

Exactly how does this work?


People are also more mobile and care more about having fulfilling experiences. The times have changed where people stayed with one employer from high school/college until retirement. People get bored and feel the lack of creative output more than ever before.


I can't lie. I like the convenience of self checkout and ordering food through an app, and just picking it up. I'm not as tech savvy as a teenager, but I do know how to work a smartphone and an app. Some of it is just the older generation getting lazy and not wanting to learn something new. That makes sense as well, since you've already put in your time in the workforce. You're looking for and trying to live an easier life. What seems simpler to us younger individuals is a steep learning curve for our parents and grandparents.


My Mom is 68 and has no idea how to turn on a computer and she can barely work her "dumb" smartphone. They long for a time when things were simpler, while the younger generation feels that simpler time was considerably more complicated.
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Old 06-07-2019, 03:28 PM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
8,081 posts, read 2,816,523 times
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My objection to self-checkout, besides job issues and the store putting profits ahead of customer service, is that the g'damn things are designed for slow, stupid people (meaning you go at their pace, or not at all), and that they simply don't work right a good part of the time. Both places I shop where they have become dominant have more than one clerk continuously helping people fix problems, and things like having to tell the system more than once you're using a debit card are just bad design.

One store's setup just comes to a silent halt if, after scanning, after requesting the right to pay, after saying you're using the adjacent pay terminal, and after entering card and PIN... you don't push another non-obvious button on the main screen to tell it it's okay to take your money.

Many emphasize or require functions that are of minority interest - such as splitting payment between two cards or between cash or card, something I don't see one person in fifty do in a checkout line. But you have to go through a clumsy step to this effect to proceed.
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