Frustrations with Automated Answering

Community Contributed

Opinion by Robert Granger

Did you ever notice that what you get is often the opposite of what was promised?  For example, we are told that the evolution of the automated answering service employed today by many businesses has been implemented to improve services for the customer.  Actually nothing is free.  The trade off, if in fact it does improve services, is cauliflower ear from long waits while the automated voice takes you through meaningless options (listening carefully as it has been changed, like I call often enough to remember the old one).

You are forced to remember the numbers for the services and later pick the one that best “fits” your original intent for calling this business.  You then press a number and another automated voice says, “All our agents are busy with customers at the moment.  Your call is important to us, please wait on the line and an agent will be with you as soon as possible.”  Loud music then begins and is often interrupted by “Your call is important to us, please stay on the line.”  You wait a while and soon have to trade ears. After which, and quite often a very long wait, an agent from some answering service in a foreign country comes on the line.  You have trouble understanding them and often by this time, “why you called” is not so important anymore.  Besides, I have to go to the bathroom.

The three financial institutions here in Kaunakakai now have these automated answering machines.  I wanted to know if they had a particular service. The first one I called put me through who they were (for goodness sake, I know who I called), the working hours, their address (really, I go there all the time), and the voice pronounced the name of the town, Kronakakai.  Well, I knew at that moment that if I got to a real person, they would not be from Molokai.

The second institution I called was less offensive and I pressed one of the options.  At this point, an automated voice asked me for my account number.  I don’t give that out over the phone.  Good bye. The third institution had a long menu, from which I collected two extension numbers of people I knew could answer my question – neither answered their phone.  Could they not have rolled the call to their answering machine (also known as voice mail)?

Improved service?  Really?  As you were.