I have never heard anyone tell me that a business is over-automated, but I think it should be a term and concept that should enter into the business lexicon ASAP. I would define over-automation as the mechanical, impersonal, and crappy customer experience that I get when I have to engage with a large enterprise with lots of customers and too many bright people thinking about the bottom line.
I will pick on Blockbuster for a minute. Blockbuster, in its heyday, was a powerhouse in the movie business that is, as of this week, in bankruptcy. As a customer, you could tell that the company designed their customer experiences to maximize profitability; hence the late fee model that made more money than the original rental fees.
On paper, this is a great idea. In execution, it pissed off a lot of customers and, I would contend, led to the gap in trust that opened the door for Netflix. I really like the visceral experience of browsing isles looking at the sea of titles and seeing which one stands out. I like doing the same in bookstores. Online doesn