If I hadn’t been so angry, I would have laughed. I was yelling at an automated phone attendant.
Now, I think we are all used to at least some automated greeting and screening – enter your account number, press an option for which department you are trying to reach, etc. But I was calling my satellite TV provider, which has the absolute worst automated calling maze that I have ever experienced. I dread having to call them.
Make sure the technology actually works – don’t put all the work on the customer
What’s different (and frustrating) about this particular company’s phone attendant is that it asks you a LOT of questions. The voice recognition doesn’t work well, so it then asks you to confirm your incorrect response – “So, you’d like to order the pay-per-view boxing this Saturday night?” – which is about the time I start shouting “NO” into the phone. And no matter what you press, you can’t get to a live person until you’re several questions into it.
Make sure the tech tool has a purpose – why are you using it?
When I did finally reach a live person, I had to start from scratch anyway – giving my name, phone number, and reason for calling. There seemed to be absolutely no purpose to the screening questions except to make sure that the customer is nice and agitated by the time she speaks to a representative.
So if the technology is not helping the employees do a better job, AND it’s not giving the customer a better experience or service… what’s the point? I’d rather have hold music until someone can get to me.
Make sure you’re not driving customers away – know they are unhappy before it’s too late
A few days later, my husband answered the phone, and after listening for a few seconds, started saying “NO” into the phone. Repeatedly. Louder each time. My automated friend had called to confirm our service appointment, and picked up on the background noise in the house. So it started saying, “ok, so you’d like to cancel this appointment?” And yes, by the end he was shouting too. We’re not an angry household, really we’re not.
At least every month or two I get a phone call from this company’s local cable competitor to entice me to switch to their service. The only reason we haven’t switched is that only this satellite company offers certain sports channels, but I’m sure there are lots of customers who take them up on the offer. While technology tools are great for helping companies automate their business functions, it’s very important not to lose sight of the most important element – the customer.
Laura Leites, Assistant Editor, Smallbiztechnology.com
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