There was a recorded message on my phone when I returned home. It wasn’t just recorded on my phone; it had come from a recording. The message had never been touched by human hands.
Call back, said the machine that works for a company I do business with.
I did, and the voice asked whether I would like to take part in a survey after I spoke with a representative. Sure, I said. Surveys are good, right?
In the past, that company has asked me to hold on for a survey at the end of the conversation but then hung up instead, leaving me no chance to reply.
Only once before had I actually made it to the survey at the end of the call, and then I gave them low scores because of inept, incompetent, unprofessional, erratic, conflicting, cruel service on their part. I feel I was fair.
This time, however, the human I spoke with had been courteous and helpful, so I intended to reflect that in my answers – if I got the opportunity.
“Please reply to each question” the recording urged, “on a scale of one to five – with one being poor service and five being excellent service. First, how was your call handled today?”
“Four,” I said, which was much better than the last time I had graded them. The recorded voice returned.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that,” she said, sounding like a female HAL from the far-off future of 2001. “Rating us from one for poor service to five for excellent service, how was your call handled today?”
This is pretty poor service, I thought, because I had said “four” as loudly and audibly as a player before his next shot at a retirement home golf course or the Donner party chef calling out the next order at dinner time.
“Three,” I said this time, downgrading my valuation of her service. That should get the message across to the people who review the calls. (After all, the recorded voice had warned me calls might be recorded.)
“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that,” the Siri wannabe repeated.
“You don’t get much, do you?” I asked, but of course she was programmed to respond only to a limited number of numbers. She obliviously asked the question again.
“One!” I bellowed politely.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. Please call again.”
Click! She was gone.
I never got the chance to rate the company a zero, which that 21st century Data Hari wouldn’t have understood anyway, because she presumably could count only the fingers on one of her digital hands.
My intentions had been noble: to help the high-tech giant improve its customer service, but I ended up with dreams of a Luddite life.
More than likely, you have your own horror stories from trying to get your point across to recorded voice. Tell me about them.
I’m sorry, I didn’t get that.
Reach Glynn Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.