Too Cool for Internet Explorer

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Call Center Crap

I’ve accepted that automated phone systems are a fact of life. They’re not going away. Honestly, I don’t mind them in some cases because I can actually get the information I need faster than waiting to talk to someone. Bank of America’s system is extremely well done and has one of the best voice-recognition technologies I’ve ever used.

But then there are the systems that only serve to make you think you’re being routed to different departments that can best handle your call. I know, for a fact, that such routing is complete and utter B.S. How do I know this? Because one morning, I called a company for a billing matter and talked to a guy named Shane. A few hours later, I called for a technical issue—a completely different matter, entirely unrelated to my morning call. Guess who I was connected to!

Well all right, maybe there is some sort of tabulation and prioritization going on that would explain this. But there’s another quirk of automated systems. As we all know, the account numbers we are given to identify us are getting longer and longer. So, when I provide my account number to an automated phone system (nearly all of which absolutely require that it is entered before you have any hope of talking to a person), why aren’t these numbers being passed on to the person I ultimately talk to?

Look, it’s time to join the 21st century. When I have to punch blah-hundred and blankety-teen digits on my phone, there is no reason I should have to recite those digits all over again to a brainless call center rep. who doesn’t have a computer screen.

» Posted by ALBj at 12:10 PM (ET)
Category: Rant


This is one of the things Apple has really gotten right. In the land of generally terrible customer service, not only is your entire AppleCare account information tied to your home phone number, but when you enter the number via the keypad, it gets passed on to every representative you talk to. Their call centers are in the United States, employing Americans who all sound articulate enough to give me a hand with Sunday’s New York Times crossword.

I’ve been VERY pleased with Apple’s customer support. Like I said, they really got it right, and Consumer Reports subscriber surveys have borne out my experience.

Most other companies would do well to take a page from Apple’s book.


» Posted by Chris
March 27, 2005 03:18 PM

I could care less if my calls are handled in America or some other country. My only plea is that the person they hire takes enough English lessons to sound like they speak English. Otherwise, give me an automated system! Besides, first tier support usually can do little more than look up the same web information I have access to.

» Posted by Queue
March 28, 2005 08:28 AM

Hear, hear!

» Posted by Lee Bennett
March 28, 2005 10:07 AM

Sorry, due to comment spam abuse, new comments on this entry are closed until I find time to upgrade Movable Type and enable registration and moderation.