Revolt against interactive voice response systems

We really value your call, so much so that we are answering it by computer!

If bioteaming is about making organisations and teams more alive then the current generation of Interactive Voice Response Systems (IVRs) must be the complete antithesis of bioteaming.

The demise of these kinds of IVR system have been long predicted however until (and unless) this happens if you are fed up with dealing with the IVR at your bank, retailer or government department and just want to find a real human to talk to then check out Paul English’s blog.

He includes an ‘IVR cheat sheet’ which lists a hundred or so corporate IVRs and what to say or what to key in to bypass them altogether and get yourself put through to a human operator.

For example, for IKEA the cheat sheet tells you to ‘hit ""0"" many times fast, if you do it once, or too slow, it will merely repeat the menu’!


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Ah Now ! Natural Voice Response Systems are now pretty stable and pretty reliable. The evidence from the analyst side and from the industry mag (www.speechtechmag.com) would indicate that people are quite happy to use IVR as long as it is appropriate to that interaction. In some instances they actually prefer automated interaction (i.e. when the enquiry might be personally embarrassing). Given the massive cost savings that good IVR's deliver, the question is now do I need IVR, but where is it appropriate for us to us it; who is in charge of making sure it works; and is it delivering the brand experience we desire. We are in the early stages of the new gen IVR systems and I have heard it equated with the early web sites. Disclaimer: I am involved in a company that is based on next gen IVR technology.

Sigh!

When will we learn that angry reactionary outbursts are never the real way to progress.... I am sure there was a Paul English for the horse and buggy and against trains and cars, and a Paul English against the airplane and for trains and cars, and a Paul English against electric light and for good old warm candle light, and a Paul English against the pesky telephone and for the respectful and genteel letter, and a Paul English againt the cold type writer and for the warm pen and pencil, and a Paul English against the robotic personal computer and for the trusty type writer, etc., etc. History is littered with Paul Englishes who think they are fighting for the rights of the little man when in fact they are simply out to make some transient noise....

The irony -- which seems to have been completely missed by Mr. English -- is that his call for the human touch is in fact a call to ensure that the job of the operator/agent on the other end of the line is as soul-deadning as possible. If Mr. English had his way, we should not try to replace by a robot the operator that asks you for state and city and then the name of the contact, and then give you the phone number. Imagine the daily work life of this operator. Deaden the soul of that person so that Mr. English can get his 'human touch'.

It's easy to bash automation, but thank God for it. It has made our life a lot easier (imagine a world without ATMs for a second).

For some constructive advice on what companies should do to make phone automation better, see: http://www.angel.com/ivrcheatsheet/index.jsp

 


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