Robots!

I wonder – did someone one day sit down and say to himself “I would really like to annoy people – but to do that I need it automated – I think I’ll create a phone answering robot”!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for robots that sweep the floor, pick up dog poo, and other tasks I’d rather not do, but I hate, despise and any other word I can think of to tell you how much I really do not like automated robot voices when I’m trying to get bills paid.

I am sure this is the way companies feel they can save money – but truly – I would feel much better talking to a human.  So much so that the second I get a robot voice I start hitting the zero on the phone in hopes it will take me to someone with DNA and not just their voice.  I would much rather talk to the toughest bill collector in the world than a robot.  I get tired of hearing the chant of “OK, I got it, hold on while I connect you…” this usually comes after the first three minutes of me trying to shout “HUMAN” into the receiver.

Robots should never have been considered to replace human contact.  Didn’t all the research in the 80’s show that?  I remember the poor chimpanzee they would show on the evening news that was being taken care of by a robot with a piece of fur on it.  The poor thing looked miserable.  Is that what these companies are hoping for?  Customers that are miserable enough to go someplace else?

Has the art of conversation gone the way of a hand written letter?  Does it really need to be so convenient that the robot is available when a human isn’t?  I mean, truly, I don’t have a problem calling back between normal hours.

I use online conversation, social media and you-tube all the time, but when it comes to paying bills or trying to figure out a problem that will require multiple layers of explanation, I really don’t want to deal with an animated voice.  It is enough for me to want to start putting in a call filter on my phone that states I will only speak to humans.  I wonder if that is allowable?  I could create a robot to tell the robot to go away.  If that works, perhaps I could use the robot to keep door-to-door solicitors away as well.

Probably the biggest replacement of humans by robots that caught my attention recently was the flight attendant speech on my way home from Boston.  Granted the plane was small (maybe 50 people) but would it have really been an inconvenience to do the safety speech in person?  Instead we had an animated video we were told to watch.  As I looked around the cabin, I can guarantee you no one was watching.  I only hoped everyone already knew how to use the seat cushion as a flotation device, because they would be at a loss after the speech since they weren’t paying attention!

So, now that I have brought this to your attention, I hope you go back to your companies and ask them to put the person back into their customer service contracts.  I guarantee the customers will appreciate working with a human.

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