The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

12 August 2007

It's not like they're actually listening

It's no particular secret that the main reason a firm installs a voice-response system is to reduce the number of incoming phone calls. I've suggested that we try this at 42nd and Treadmill, preferably in some language which none of our customers comprehend, such as, oh, English.

Of course, if you really, truly need to talk to the company, which does occasionally happen, this particular gatekeeper is more hellish than helpful:

Like so many companies AT&T uses voice recognition software that can only handle speech as produced by speech synthesis software. This leaves human callers getting ever more frustrated, and means the hapless human who finally picks up the call gets some rather hostile verbiage. It need not be this way.

The solution is elegantly simple:

[I]nstead of trying to answer that voice's questions as clearly as we know how, what say we try singing? It's not going to understand a damn thing we say, so sing whatever little ditty you feel like. You'll end up talking with a person anyway, and singing one of your favorite songs will make you feel better.

And if your favorite song happens to be by, say, Nine Inch Nails, you'll be in the proper frame of mind for engaging with the customer-service representative.

Posted at 9:41 AM to Dyssynergy

Oh how I hate those telephone systems. I especially hate AT & T's as well as their whole attitude in general. I like the idea of talking in a heavy accent when the customer service rep comes on the line - just keep gabbering away and make them ask you to repeat yourself again and again. Yes, I do.

Posted by: writer chick at 10:43 AM on 12 August 2007

Great idea. A little NIN will get anyone in the right mood.

Posted by: Shawn at 12:41 PM on 12 August 2007

I hurt myself today (by calling AT&T) to see if I still feel....

Posted by: Dwayne "the canoe guy" at 3:21 PM on 12 August 2007

My cable provider/ISP uses one of those voice recognition things for first-tier tech support. I always hit "0" at the earliest opportunity, because I insist on having my problem handled by an entity with at least 1/100 of my IQ.

Though, sometimes I feel like I need to request a supervisor the instant the human answers.

Posted by: McGehee at 5:12 PM on 12 August 2007

I admit I kind of like the "voice" of the automated system my phone company uses. It is a man's voice, and he is very patient while I make my decisions as to what I want to do when I call. Creepy, I know.

Posted by: Heather at 7:41 PM on 12 August 2007

While trying to get the household DSL service working after moving from NE Oklahoma to Houston, something AT&T does not anticipate its customers doing, apparently, I spent many hours on the phone with their machines and their people.

I got frustrated during one call and cursed at the system, which calmly replied, "So you'd like to disconnect your service?" I laughed for a good while at that.

Posted by: Air at 9:29 PM on 12 August 2007

Hm... "Bow down before the one you serve, you're going to get what you deserve..." I don't feel better for some reason...

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 7:15 AM on 13 August 2007