Automated phone system hell

I’m on Radio Scotland’s MacAulay and Co tomorrow morning to talk about the dubious joys of companies’ automated phone systems. If you can think of any particularly stinking examples of badly designed or badly implemented electronic operators that really don’t want you to speak to a human, I’m sure the show would welcome your emails or texts (contact info’s in the link)…

6 thoughts on “Automated phone system hell

  1. russ says:

    looks like you are in trouble :) The thing I find annoying is that the “hash key” is referred to as the “pound key” even though another American name for the key is the Unicode standard which is “number sign”.

    However things isn’t likely to be interesting to anyone other than me :)

    Another annoying thing is that these systems are called IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems, yet they usually require touch tone keyboards.

    Finally, I hate the fact that if someone hasn’t answered you within a preset period of time they often drop the call “the other person has cleared”. Sometimes after instructing you to call back later (after having waited an hour).

    Hmmm, perhaps this fever is taking it’s toll. Time to stop the Zepplin and hit the scratcher :)

  2. david says:

    The most annoying ones are when you go through all the options then get the unavailable tone. Or worst the ones that just say Goodbye for no reason.

  3. Gary says:

    Yeah, particularly after keeping you on hold for an hour and *then* telling you they’re too busy. Grrrr grrr grrrr etc.

    I do feel sorry for the people who have to deal with callers who’ve been kept waiting for an hour.

  4. Squander Two says:

    I feel sorry for them too, right up to the point where they make it worse through their own idiocy and petulance.

    I’m always amazed that customer service training even exists. To be really, really good at customer service, all you need is common sense and empathy. The very existence of customer service training is an indictment of the human race.

    I used to work in a call centre where every single caller had been waiting for at least 20 minutes to get through, had usually tried multiple times over a period of weeks, and had sent in letters which we had ignored. Sure, it’s a little tricky to deal with such people — of course they’re angry — but, if you’re just nice, genuinely helpful and apologetic, and don’t go out of your way to antagonise them, they’re usually quite nice in return. These days, I increasingly find myself flying off the handle at call centre staff because they’re just so fucking offensive. Why do they do it? Why antagonise their customers? Do they want their days to be a hundred times worse than need be?

    Anyway, I know this is late for your show, Gary, hence useless, but hey.
    The DVLNI are the worst answerers of phones I’ve dealt with in ages.
    They’re guilty of, among other transgressions, my biggest call-centre pet hate: You ring up, you hear a message telling you that, if all you want is a form, you can download it from the website, you hang up, you go to the website, you read a message telling you that you need to ring them to get the form you’re looking for. Grr.

  5. Gary says:

    > I feel sorry for them too, right up to the point where they make it worse through their own idiocy and petulance.

    I do find it varies from firm to firm. Generally speaking, the lower the pay and the less pleasant the working environment, the more unpleasant the agents are. The cheeky ones tend to give off the unmistakable vibe of “I hate this job, and I resent having to be here”.

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