Voice Activated Anger

You’ve probably had to use one yourself at some point. If you haven’t, you will soon.

“Thank you for calling Mickeytakers Inc. customer support line. Please say the name of the department you wish to speak to…”

There are no numbers to press. No ‘press 1 for the Customer Dissatisfaction department’. You have to say it. At which point the computer on the other end will utterly fail to understand you.

Voice recognition is always terrible. It is especially terrible over a crackly telephone line that is almost certainly terminating on another continent. I’ve never found anyone who hasn’t been infuriated by one of these systems. Do they have so many people calling with broken fingers that simply ‘pressing 1’ is a problem?

“Technical Support”

“You said: ‘Account Enquiries’. Is this correct?”

I have a slightly deeper voice than some people, but I’m told I have a very clear accent. If these things can’t understand me, who can they understand? Normally it takes several tries before I get through to the right section.

“Please say the serial number of the product you are calling about.”

I have never, EVER, had this step process correctly. Ever.

“O – M – G – 4 – 2 – 0 – 1”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that…”

“That’s because you’re ****.”

“I’m transferring you to a customer support agent for assistance.”

I wonder how many of these systems are set up to recognise swearing as a trigger to transfer to a person?

About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

3 responses to “Voice Activated Anger”

  1. TheCrust says :

    What gets my goat even more than shitly thought out automated telephone systems is when you finally do get through to a real person, they are often in a completely different country and don’t speak English as their first language.

    Why do some companies insist on doing this?

    It may save them some money in the short term, but if I can’t get support on a technical issue because the person at the other end of the phone who’s supposed to be helping me can barely speak English let alone discuss the finer points of a simple software problem, will I be buying that product again?

    Probably not.

    So we come back to: why bother? Put call centres in the regions you expect to get support from, or if you must outsource to an asian sub-continent because everyone else is doing it, fucking well make sure you emply call centre staff who speak the language just as fluently as I do!

  2. mrsmith says :

    I was brought up in the South of England. I am white, middle class. I have a perfect RP accent.

    Ok my class and skin colour don’t make the blindest bit of difference, but you get my point. If an IVR system ends up making me swear, little home counties me, something can’t be right.

    I once tried adopting a Scottish, then Mancunian accent. No joy there too.

    “hey shitbags, put me through to a fucking human now you bunch of clungeridden asshats” works. Unless you are calling BT, in which case you are put through to something that definitely lives and breathes, clinically… but…

  3. Karl says :

    ha! Yes. Which one did I do battle with recently..can’t recall. Might have been southern electric..

    It did the “state which person you require”..

    I just blew raspberries at it, and it went away and put me through to a human.

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