The ignominy of talking to machines

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in the already hellish world of automated customer service phone mazes. Apparently it’s no longer good enough to simply press a button to select your choice from the available options. Oh no, now you have to SAY your choice.

Frankly I’d rather just press the button than have to say some ridiculous phrase into a machine. Is it just me, or is there something kinda humilitating about having to speak to a machine like this?

It’s even more annoying when you’re asked to speak an account number or something, because half the time the voice recognition software will get at least one of the numbers wrong.

Please. If you must make me deal with a computer instead of a real person, don’t subject me to the added embarrassment of pretending to talk to it.

I hate to be the robot to tell you this Gary, but everyone else on this board was replaced by AIs long ago.

I am with you. I think they do this becaus studies show it is humiliating and they want to find a way to cut back on customer service. Hey, what do you know, nobody called today! Imagine that. I do feel like a total dope talking to the recording. One. I said, One, fucker. One!

Check this out… Our wonderful local health care (BC Care), is supported by mandatory insurance payments to the government.

So, what do they do when they want to tell you something? They get a machine to call your house, and when you say hello, they say the spiel “Please call us at xxx… option 1, then 5.” - They never mention a name, or what it’s about, or even, say, get a HUMAN to call and TELL YOU.

If you call the number back, it’s basically their standard line, and you essentially talk to a CSR who has no idea what you are calling about, gets all your details, looks at your file, and then knows.

It makes me want to go down there with a gun quite frankly.

Please say “ballsak” if you’d like to talk to a customer service representative.

My favorite are the telemarketing machines that would call, and then ask you to hold until one of their phone salesmen was free.

The Seattle Times did a whole piece on this, complete with a handy collection of dial-a-human shortcuts.

  • Alan

"Welcome to sexchat. Please speak the fantasy you would like to experience today…

…That sounded like ‘fat chick.’ If this is correct, please say ‘correct,’ otherwise, please repeat your request…"

[Kramer]
You have selected . . . “Brown-Eyed Girl” . . . if this is correct, press 1. If not, press 2 . . . [beep] . . . Uh . . . why don’t you tell me what movie you’re looking for?
[/Kramer]

(bandwidth theft)

One of the last things I worked on at Verizon labs was a bunch of VoiceXML applications. Speech recognition application programming, basically.

We sure as hell only used the voice option in testing our own applications to make sure the grammars worked. To actually get the damn thing to do something, we would always hit the touch-tone option key instead of speaking the keyword. Because for one thing, we knew that if we did speak the keyword, there was a decent chance of having to repeat the keyword, and then, repeat it again, with appropriate waits for the error message to replay, and – always amusing for demos – steadily increasing anger on the part of the demonstrator…

IMO, all automated phone systems are very unpleasant to use, even the best of them, whether or not they use voice recognition. The best such systems require considerable cleverness and study on the part of the designers, and are very rare indeed. Usually you encounter horrors such as Comcast’s evil system that requires you to enter your account phone number and then doesn’t send it on to the rep whose first question is what your account phoner number is. So only in cases such as Comcast customer service where you actually don’t want to talk to your customer, and in fact hate them all, does this make sense.

If you are actually planning on making money off of people calling you, you’d have to be stupid to use this kind of system.

I hate to be the robot to tell you this Gary, but everyone else on this board was replaced by AIs long ago.

I agree Gary, I don’t like having to say things to a machine. I’d rather punch a button.

What do you feel about punch a button?

What do you feel about punch a button?[/quote]

It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

I hate to be the robot to tell you this Gary, but everyone else on this board was replaced by AIs long ago.

What do you feel about punch a button?[/quote]
Is this to be an empathy test?

  • Alan

You forgot the best part: home phone number is the only way you can get to talk to someone at Comcast. There’s an account number on the bill, so that’s obviously how they keep track of you, but nope, you can’t enter that. Can’t enter a fake phone number either, because it actually does check to make sure it’s there. Causes real problems when you only use a cell phone.

Someone told me that certain voice system analyze the stress level of the customer’s voice, forwarding the caller to a human operator if the caller’s voice exceeds a certain anger or frustration threshold.

What do you feel about punch a button?[/quote]

It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.[/quote]

Tell me more about feel warm and fuzzy inside the punch a button.