Saleem suggested a long time ago that I use this blog to share something I learned from SILS every week. I want to apologize to him, because that was a fantastic idea but I was too lazy to follow through. I would have had tons, TONS, of examples of bad system design alone. Why just today I got a call from Mazda which we’ll assume was about my car. We’re assuming this because they never actually told me what they wanted to talk about.
Now if you want to get in contact with a customer what kind of system would you design to so that your representatives can get through? The simplest way would just have a human call the customer. Obvious, but now consider some other factors that might come to play in an call center. Hand dialing is pretty inefficient so you can go with robot dialing. You might be short staffed so you might need an automated voice to do the initial talking or, if it’s a simple matter, just have the robot just announce. Beyond staff and efficiency you have to worry about courtesy, accuracy, being in accordance to agreements and laws, asking for social security numbers, account numbers, personal information, etc. There’s a lot to consider if you’re a big company and it’s easy to see why something as simple as a phone call can devolve into the bland, unfeeling, touch-tone-a-thon that customer service calls have become.
But even if you have to reduce your calls to a robot reading a script you can at least be smart enough not to be like Mazda Credit.
Vaguely-female-voiced Robot: Hello. Please call Mazda Credit at 1-800-xxx-xxxx for an important announcement.
Vaguely-female-voiced Robot: Hello. Please enter your account number or your social security card number
No. I’m not giving a phone number, that I’m not even sure is for real, any damn thing. If you have something to tell me, just have someone call and tell me. If that really was Mazda, they really need to rethink a system that cold calls a customer with a robot that redirects them to another number that gives you nothing but asks for personal information. That is not how you instill trust.
I hope it wasn’t important…