Voice-activated coolness

OK so the other day I called Verizon to change my address. I dialed the *611 and followed the prompts to change my address. It led me to an automated system. I was like, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? How the hell will it get an address out of this?

So anyways I spoke my new address into it, and it was read back to me correctly, and it updated my account address. How bad ass is that? I mean using a system like http://usps.com/zip4/ to convert any old address into it’s “official” USPS format I understand. But they did something like this: took my speech, converted to text, ran through an address verifier, converted it back to speech (to be read back to me in the vocal equivalent of a big breasted redhead wearing a fedora and men’s boxers), and updated my account.

Best address change tool ever, in the history of the universe.

i really hate the new(ish) voice-activated menus that some companies have started using. i make most of my calls at work, and i feel like an idiot saying “ONE, THREE, B-I-T-T-N-E-R”.

The other day I was trying to cancel my dad’s AOL account (a long overdue chore). The conversation with the speech recognition system went something like this:

AOL: …For billing information, say “Billing.” To cancel your AOL account, say “Cancel Account.” To–

ME: Cancel account.

AOL: You’d like to sign up for AOL! If this is correct, say “Yes.”

ME: What the fuck?

AOL: I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that. For billing information, say “Billing…”

I finally got through to talk to someone, and had to speak to him like a half-retarded child in order to get him to cancel the account rather than try to sell me on one of their inane services or stay on for a month free just to see if I’d change my mind. He finally said the account was closed.

THEN, a week later my dad gets a letter that starts off: “Dear AOL customer, Thank you for deciding to continue your account with AOL!”

So I had to trek back through voice recognition hell to get some other schmuck on the phone and yell at him for this until he stopped trying to sell me on one of their inane services or stay on for a month free just to see if I’d change my mind. I was actually cussing at him by the end of the conversation, because he just wouldn’t listen.

The idea behind these systems is good. The IVR menu systems in many large organisations have become multilayer menus that require an inane amount of button pushing to get to the option. With a speech recognition capable IVR, the customer is able “say anything” (might eb atrademark of Nuance corp), and be put directly at the right option.

Unfortunately, the pdestrian inflexible minds of the business folk in charge of specifying the implementations are stuck in their menu-driven pasts and can’t see past the multi-layer menuing that they currently have. So instead, we wind up with many imeplementations of this software that basically have you say the menu option instead of pushing a button. Sadly, the company I work for falls into the latter category.

something like that would be cool. but the voice-driven systems that simply mirror the button pressing is retarded.