Sunday, March 02, 2003

On Friday I was stuck in one of the nine circles of hell. I was in an automated phone menu with one of the local utilities patiently listening for the oportunity to "dial 8 if you are unhappy that we decided to bill you twice within the same month". That option never came up so I hit '0' to speak with the operator but instead of getting a real live person, I was dumped back at the main menu. I tried again and the same thing happened. Furious, I pounded the '0' key a half-dozen times and I got a human voice. Automated phone services now rewards rage.

Then, doing research on online reference service, I found out about this:

DON'T ASSUME that an automated system creates a level playing field for all callers. In fact, updated call-center technology allows companies to prioritize calls based on virtually anything in a customer's electronic file (most typically, how "valuable" a customer you are).

"One big bank gives different options to low-margin, low-value customers," says Steve Feldman, Avaya's global-business-development manager for self-service. "To use their terminology, every time Joe Six-Pack with $18 in his account speaks with a live person, they're losing money on him. So they will force that person to self-serve." The systems that route calls also have the ability to assign low priority to frequent callers or high priority to someone who's calling back after abandoning the system on previous attempts.

["Your call is important to us" ; Kiplinger's Personal Finance; Washington; Feb 2003; Kristin Davis]

Pound Zero.

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