RE: Serious follow-up to the automated telephone system thing

Subject: RE: Serious follow-up to the automated telephone system thing
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: "John Posada" <jposada99 -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 9 Mar 2009 16:22:29 -0400



> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Posada [mailto:jposada99 -at- gmail -dot- com]
>
> >> > There is, in fact, a reason why those automated telephone
> >> support systems are so nerve-racking. I read about it a long
> >> time ago in an article in TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION. It seems
> >> that those systems are actually doing something that the
> >> police do to try and break criminals in a hostage situation
> >> -- repeatedly force someone to make choices among
> >> alternatives. The police do it with the intention of making
> >> the kidnapper finally say, "I give up! I'm coming out!" So
> >> those automated systems are breaking you down in a similar fashion.
> >
> > They don't have to justify to you. They only have to
> justify to their
> > shareholders that it's used for the purpose of making the caller
> > compliant or making the caller go away and not tie up any of the
> > higher-maintenance wetware.
> >
>
> I don't buy that, at least not for any company that wants to
> continue to exist.
>
> It's a well known marketing principle that it is cheaper to keep a
> customer than to find new ones. I agree that the goal is to, if
> possible, have a user's reason for calling handled by the system.
> However, to make them just go away?

That principle is true as a general rule, but there are
counter-arguments for the main audience, and certainly for the
corner-case audience.

For the main audience... People who eventually achieve some sort of
success via the IVR, the relief is a rush. It's the same principle
whereby women can go through labor, and then get pregnant again, because
the reward part of the process causes the pain part to recede in
attention and memory.

For the corner cases, those fall into two categories:

- those who eventually get to a human and eventually get a satisfactory
resolution, in which case, see my previous paragraph

- those who are unlikely to be helped whether by automation or by
meat-sack.

That latter bunch can be considered too expensive to keep. The cost of
getting a replacement customer, while higher than the cost of retaining
ones that never have real problems, or ones that have only problems that
can be readily resolved, is perhaps less than the cost of keeping a
customer for whom you must jump through hoops.

You've fired customers before, haven't you?
If you haven't, then others on this list certainly have.

For the smaller business person, that might be partially an emotional
reaction. They just don't need the aggravation.

For large, impersonal corporations, the calculation is emotionless,
actuarial really.

> I documented an IVR program for one of the major internet book
> sellers. We agonized for weeks on the process flow chart to make sure
> that in some way shape or form, the IVR system addressed the issue,
> whether if through the system, or ultimately, by routing to a live
> person. However, at no time was there even a hint of the approach that
> if we ran the caller in enough circles, they would go away.
>
> Are some systems hard to use? Sure. However, even with systems that
> are 100% human, you've never been transferred 4-5 times? The IVR
> system is only as good as the person who programs it and some aren't
> very good at their job.

Bureaucratic systems can, indeed be as bad as automated ones. The worst
is having to give your history to each new voice, and they already sound
as bored as you are... :-)

And yet, very few bureaucratic organizations care to do any better -
witness the fact that most of them are decades, if not centuries old,
and have had plenty of time to improve if they could... Or would.


- Kevin
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References:
Serious follow-up to the automated telephone system thing: From: Downing, David
Re: Serious follow-up to the automated telephone system thing: From: John Posada
RE: Serious follow-up to the automated telephone system thing: From: McLauchlan, Kevin
Re: Serious follow-up to the automated telephone system thing: From: John Posada

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