Please Enjoy Our Human Touch… After the beep
I called Amazon.com yesterday, got a nice enough woman in the Philippines who did her best to help but she ended up transferring me to an automated system where I had to leave a message into the black hole of technology.
Furthermore, I had to send an email to Amazon to ask them a question about my seller account, I had forgotten which email address was associated with it. The trick is, you need to send it from the email that the account is under. The email automaton transmits an email back that says “For security reasons you must send your inquiry from the registered email address. If you need help changing your address, please login to your account using your registered email address and change it.”
I stared in disbelief – that someone somewhere actually typed up that automated response and thought it made sense. Seriously?
Welcome to the world of IVR which stands for Interactive Voice Response system. Anytime you are listening to a computer talk to you and have to press buttons or speak back to it, you are talking to an IVR system.
Later That Afternoon
I’m having problems with my Verizon FIOS service, so I call Verizon. To which I get an automated system that asks me what my problem is in ‘simple words’. I respond by barking with frustration “This stupid piece of shit won’t work!”
The automated woman on the other end states “I think you said your having problems with your service, is that correct?”
With a surprised smile on my face I say, “Yes”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that response. I think you said your having problems with your service, is that correct?”
Getting more frustrated at having to talk to a computer I bleat out “Yes! Yes! You stupid moron!”
“Thank you, let me get someone that can help you with that.” She replies pleasantly.
I pull the phone away from my ear and stare at it.
Outweighing the Pros with the Cons
It’s something we are all facing more and more, the migration to the mechanical. It has to raise the question, does it really help?
1. Service is consistent from call to call (even if it stinks, it is consistent)
2. Call data and demographics can be analyzed a lot more effectively.
3. Customers can access information 24 hours a day through database IVR system.
1. People get frustrated talking to machines. Especially when they don’t understand you.
2. It loses the personal touch.
3. People lose jobs due to the implementation of these systems.
4. Sometimes all it does is raise your blood pressure before you do talk to someone, so that by the time you reach a live person, you are already so angry you want to reach through the phone and strangle them.
5. Most importantly, it loses the personal touch.
All joking aside, I really do think we need to look at the migration to technology for personal interaction. I absolutely think there are places for computers to take the place of humans. However, I am not really convinced that customer service or anything where the image of your business is on the line – is the place for that introduction.