I can understand why big corporations do it. Attempting to handle all phone calls via some kind of automated voice system saves time and money.
Afterall why pay dozens of phone operators when most customers just want to know your hours of operation or how to get to your business or have a question about their bill or, gosh forbid, they may actually want to buy something. The answers supposedly are all online at www.whocares.com, the voice prompt will tell you just that.
And if you still really want to talk to someone, they’ll be glad to channel your call to some remote location perfectly suited to host the next series of “Survivor”. Never mind that English isn’t even a second language there, more like a fifth or sixth.
“Hi thanks for calling the Who Cares Company. My name is, well it doesn’t matter because you won’t be able to pronounce it anyway and chances are you can’t understand what I’m trying to say so call back again sometime and maybe you’ll get someone whom you really can understand.”
What’s really bothersome is that a number of small companies are beginning to follow suit. They tell you they pride themselves on customer service but then make you jump through hoops in order to get to a live person on the phone. Call around a little and you’ll see what I mean.
I noticed a number of physician’s offices are also becoming more automated. “This is Medical Partners, press one if you’re a patient, press two if you’re an insurance company, press three if you’re a drug representative,” etc.
I can visualize the day when doctors try to put off the live answered phones as long as they can in an attempt to save money, just like the big corporations do.
“This is Medical Partners, if you are a patient suffering a true medical emergency press one.” Then you press one and here comes the next series…”For burns, press one, infectious disease, press two, heart attack press three.”
Then you press three…”If you think you suffered a heart attack and are in great pain press one. Mild pain, press two. Limited or sporadic pain, press three.”
Then you press one…”If you believe you have four blocked arteries, press one. Three blocked arteries, press two. Two or fewer blocked arteries press three.”
Then you press one…”Hang on while we process your call. Due to large caller volume this call may take up to six minutes before it answered. It is always best to call after 5pm weekdays and from 9am to Noon on weekends.” Keep that in mind next time you suffer a heart attack.
For most businesses using a voice prompt system is not only bad PR, it’s a business practice that is surely deadly.