10 Comm No-Nos Part 1

by Dave Michels

Dr. Evil said it best with “I’m surrounded by frickin’ morons.”

Here is my top 10 list of telecom no-nos. Don’t do these things, they are simply unacceptable. Why? Well, for lots of reasons including common sense, common courtesy, technological progress, and because they annoy the hell out of me. 

It is time to end stupidity, and demand more from our own company, partners, and suppliers.

10. Hold Queues Without Time Estimates.

It’s bad enough that “due to a high volume of calls, hold times may be longer than usual.” Even if that recording is permanent, the reality is sometimes more calls do come in than other times. I have better things to do too than hang out on hold if it happens to be one of those times, and perhaps you would even prefer me to call back when things aren’t so busy. But give me a clue! Estimating the hold time for the caller was revolutionary technology 30 years ago.

It really is a double insult, not only do you not value my time, but you won’t let me value my time either.

9. Re-Enter Account Number After Transferring to Live Agent.

This falls along the same lines of not respecting the caller’s time. I get that time is money, and call centers are not cheap. It is all about efficiency and I am happy to help by making an effort with the auto attendant. I have no complaint about entering my account number into an IVR, the information is going to be needed at some point and you have a machine and I have a keypad – let’s do it.

But sometimes it’s a ruse. It may have been a gallant attempt to solve my problem in an automated way, but evidently I am still on the line. Now off to that precious agent – finally a solution is on the horizon, but what’s this…. my account number? Again? I know my time is worthless, but I thought the agent time was precious. The ROI of passing my previously entered information to your agent is an easy one. Obviously this firm can’t be trusted with money, especially from me. It’s rude and makes me question your entire approach to business.

8. Using the Out-of-Office Messages just because You Are OoO.

The Out of Office Auto-Responder is a great invention. We live in a time where we expect a reasonably quick response, and sometimes that just isn’t going to happen. The basic idea is that if for some reason you cannot respond in a timely manner, some fair warning should be issued so an alternative source of information can be found. However, being out of the office is rarely an excuse any more for not being unresponsive.

Maybe 10 years ago being off site at a seminar was an excuse to be unavailable – but not anymore. If you don’t have a smartphone or web access, or some form of remote access to email we have bigger problems. If you do have one, and the company is paying for it, use it. If you can’t answer my question remotely because the answer lies in a stack of paper at the office, that’s your problem – don’t make it mine. At a minimum, respond to me with an explanation about your Amish computer system. Don’t give me a bot.

I accept OOF responders when people are truly offline. Vacations, all day commitments that just don’t allow multitasking or office checking – but that’s it. There are few places and activities that where these conditions exist.  And, they are becoming fewer. I don’t accept travel, conferences, or hotels as auto bot excuses any more. 

7. Voice Mail Box Full.

Nothing says Fuck off more than “This voice mail box is full”… click. At least I don’t feel picked on personally – and I feel a little sympathy since the person is clearly a moron. First off, disk space is cheap, upgrade the system. Secondly, really? you can’t manage your mailbox? Can you chew gum and walk? 

Voice Mail systems should send out alerts to all employees when this condition exists for one person. I find it particularly annoying when I get this response from someone at a voice mail company. 

6. Speech Recognition Systems that don’t Accept DTMF.

We think we all hate IVRs, but speech response systems are known to be so bad that I wish for the safe return of the IVR. There is nothing wrong with taking an IVR and adding speech to it. But a speech system that doesn’t take digits is just stupid.

I can imagine the sales pitch, our system is so good that it never misses. Yeah right, how about a money back guarantee on that?  I first encountered this with a credit card system that wanted me to speak my credit card number. Should be easy enough – but what if I’m in a noisy environment? What if I am in a quiet environment (library)? What if I am am surrounded by people trying to steal my credit card number?
This approach violates the cardinal rule of upgrades, never take away functionality. Especially useful technology.

To be continued….