Skip to comments.'Press 9 for More Options'
Posted on 05/06/2012 6:29:52 AM PDT by KeyLargo
OPINION Updated May 3, 2012, 7:41 p.m. ET
'Press 9 for More Options'
Companies claim automated phone-answering systems save them millions. I have my doubts.
By STEPHEN MOORE
One of the deep mysteries of modern life is why, in a nation with some 14 million unemployed people, it has become nearly impossible to call a store, a business or a government agency and speak to a live human being. I'm not a Luddite; I don't rage against the machine; and I've always argued that the digital age is making life better in almost every way. But there are some things even in the 21st century that humans still do better than robots. One of them is providing customer service on the telephone.
Telephone answering servicesor what the industry calls "Interactive Voice Response"gets my vote for the runaway worst invention of the last half-century. They should call them anti-customer retention devices.
Airlines (with the exception of Southwest, which almost always picks up within a minute) are among the worst offenders. I recently called United Airlines in a futile attempt to spend dollars to buy their product. Mind you, this is an industry that has lost billions of dollars and much of which has sought federal bankruptcy protection. You'd think they'd be rolling out the red carpet in gratitude.
Instead, I'm greeted with that familiar, annoying voice instructing me that before I will get any help, I need to first answer "a few simple questions." I keep repeating one word over and over: "agent." The android says, "Sorry I couldn't hear you, can you repeat that?" And I practically swallow the mouthpiece as I yell "AGENT," and then the droid intones, "I think I heard you said you'd like to speak to an agent, is that right?"
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
Any tricks of your own to beat these phone system nightmares?
Many end their ‘selection’ options with ‘push 0 to talk to a customer service agent.
One might try that at the beginning of the call.
I get aggravated with the Cable Co, especially. I have to punch in my phone number, account number, pin number, etc., to get the automated responses.
Then, when it finally gets to the ‘press 0 for a cs agent’, the first things the cs agent ask is: phone number, account number, pin number, etc.
This article seems to blame technology for unemployment. Obama recently tried the same by accusing ATM’s of causing unemployment.
The key for prospective employees is to adapt and learn new technologies.
I call in the mid 80s (recession) the rapid development of desktop computers. I learned on-the-job, because training was not readily available. The first desktop computer I used came with a Technical Reference manual, but no ‘user’ manual. It was adapt and learn or consider a new career flipping burgers. I was the only one in our department who would even ‘touch’ the new desktop computer.
I learned enough to spend the next 20 years in computer related jobs.
And it seems that every one of them starts off with “Please listen carefully as our options have changed.” Just once I would like to find that one company whose options have not changed!
I only recently gave up my rotary phone. Here’s what they don’t tell you....after they give you the button options, just don’t press anything and after a wait of 15 - 30 sec or so they will connect you to a live human.
Sometimes you have to listen to the options twice, but if you wanna be old fashioned you gotta have patience....
I hate it when I’m required to punch in my account number, and then when I finally get a live person the first thing they ask for is my account number.
One of the most amazing things about these systems is that they ask you to key in your account number and then the first thing the live person they route you to asks for is an account number.
I refuse to press 1 for English. I gladly wait the extra minute for it to default to english.
But "they" never tire of tracking down my email address....
I absolutely loath talking to those damn robots!
The first trick I would recommend is to get a speaker phone. They are wonderful for dealing with automated systems. If you are on hold for a while, you can do something else until they answer, also it is easier to punch the number requested when you are looking at the phone.
The answer is quite simple: This nation's minimum wage laws make the cost of that employee more than the service is worth, in the eye of the employer.
Ditto. I think the secret is to not respond at all, because then, you have to be transferred to a live person.
Keep pressing zero.
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