11 Jun

Don't Know How You Talk-O Mr. Roboto

Calling Customer Service is never a painless task. In most cases, I'd rather take on scrubbing the Metrodome concourse floor with a toothbrush before having to call the 1-800 number.

I remember not too long ago, when you'd call and a Customer Service Representative (CSR) would answer the phone. Then, companies started to "outsource" the CSR position to a collective group of ... robots. You know the drill, "Press 1 for X, Press 2 for Y..."

And then the classic "Please listen carefully, as our options have changed recently." Ha, yeah right. You're not gonna get me! I'm just gonna hit the 0 key, which almost universally will send you to a live representative skilled with [not only dealing with people like me] taking down your information, asking you what your issue is, and then redirecting your call, where the dedirected CSR will ask you what your information and issue is again.

So the concept of "Press 1 for..." wouldn't be that bad if it wasn't abused. I mean, do you really need to go through 9 options (10 including the CSR option)? Yes, that is the truth with one company at least. We want you to sit through 90 seconds of explaining what the options are. Press 1 to hear about the new products and services we are offering to existing customers. Press 2 if you can hear the minutes ticking away on your cellular phone plan... Press 8 if you'd like to swing a driver in the face of our CEO for making you wait until option 9, which is what you wanted. Press 9 if you have a technical support issue.

Why don't they put the most commonly used options first?

It's no wonder we hate this automated telephone service. We're already pissed off becuase X-service doesn't work/some fraudulent charge was made to your account/etc. that the last thing we want to do is wait and wait and wait. We just want the damn fire out!

And then there's the "Your call is important to us" line. Yeah, your call is so important to us that we're going to staff a bare-minimum amount of CSRs and make you wait and wait.

Companies have decided to make some changes to this approach... for the worse. Have you met the new "smarter" robot? Yup, the one that at one time understood touch-tone, now tries to understand human speak.

Nothing irritates me more than being forced to SPEAK to the robot. "Please say your account number." Then, after 3 attempts, because the damn robot kept missing a number, the robot finally got it. How do I know this? Here was the response:

Ok, I believe I understood your account number. Your account number is [suddenly in a deep voice] 6-0-3-4..."

Ok? Ok? You're incapable of expressing emotion, why are you using the word "Ok"? Insulting. Believe? Um, you recognize things as 0's and 1's...either right or wrong, not "believe".

So now I'm on the part where the lady robot voice said Ok, so tell me the problem you are experiencing. Not expecting this question from the robot at least, I panicked a little bit and gave too specific of an answer.

I'm sorry, I didn't understand.

That's funny, because if I was talking to a real person, THEY would have understood. So now I'm past the point where I want to deal with this, so I said

"I'm trying to fly a kite outside, as my daughter really wanted to fly a kite, but there isn't enough wind to keep the kite up in the air, so could you go fly" (interrupted by the computer) I'm sorry, I didn't understand, please hold for a CSR.

THAT'S WHAT I WANTED IN THE FIRST PLACE! Even though you gave no menu option for it, I could have hit 0 immediately!!! ugh.

Damn I hate talking to a robot. I don't want to play guessing games trying to balance describing my issue with hitting those keywords that the robot will understand. I don't want to be embarrassed because every once in a while, I shout keyword "sentences" together into a phone and everyone around me will hear it.

Automated telephone services have got so irritating, that people have created web pages which list the direct CSR number(s) for hundreds of companies.

I will continue to praise business with immediate live CSRs.

Categories: Gripe