In message <email@example.com> Monty Solomon
> To show that automation can be good and turn English's assault into a
> business opportunity, Zirngibl put out his own cheat sheet for
> businesses on how to create customer-friendly systems. Among the tips:
> never hide the option for speaking to a live agent and never require
> callers to repeat personal information once they reach a human being.
Personally, I repeat information exactly one time. If that
representative cannot tell me how to get to a human and bypass the
system next time, they will either transfer me to a manager that will
give me that information or they will close my account.
That being said, I rather prefer automated systems for a lot of queries,
if I have a choice of any automated system or a person I'll almost
always take the automated system. However, when I do need to go beyond
the scripted voice system, I want more then a meat-driven voice response
system (in other words, they need to think, not follow a script) and
they need to have the information I already gave the system.
You'll notice differences in companies though.
If you call my power company, the first words out of the IVR system tell
you that no human is available, when a human will next be available,
then it offers to help you automatically (and their automated system is
great, you can actually move service with it in some cases, and I have
*never* repeated anything to a human that the system already asked me)
This is great, if I know that the system can't help me (or if I happened
to be too ignorant to use an automated system), I can hang up right now.
Alternatively, if I want something the system can do, I can still do it.
Oh yeah, it will also put me through to a voicemail or let me request a
callback. If you swear at it, you get a rep right away too :)
If you call my telco, even if the very first button you push tells the
system with 100% certainty that you will need to speak to a person, it
still needs your phone number, and account type (didn't I just give you
my phone number? Ever hear of a database?) and a few other details
before it can tell you that the department you need is closed, then it
hangs up. No voicemail. Oh, and if you swear at it, it doesn't
This benefits the company because they can get stats about who is
calling and why, so they can look at what areas would be served by
longer operating hours, at the expense of wasting a bunch of my time
only to not even try to help me.
It's about corporate attitude. It's possible to make very smart, very
adaptive phone systems which can address many/most calls, but it needs
to be done with the customer in mind, not as a cost savings measure
for the company (the cost savings come due to lower employee costs,
but that should not be a primary goal)