Recording Of Wretched Dell Call

Listen to these calls and you’ll understand why Dell has a long way to go with their customer service: because people are stupid and don’t work a voice tree like they’re supposed to. It doesn’t help that once this customer finally gets a person, in hardware, he transfers her to a tech support line with a busy signal.

Tech Support Call

Customer Satisfaction Survey Call

Don’t say “what part of no don’t you understand” and expect the system to understand. If you’re going to vent your anger, at least mash zero heavily. That might actually get you somewhere.

For Dell’s part, they should reduce the amount of errors before transferring to a human. And that human should be a skilled operator, not Jimmy down in parts.

Transcript inside…

Anatomy of an Unhappy Customer [VocaLabs]

CALL 1

Person: It’s safer that way.
Voiceover: Welcome to Dell, your call may be recorded.
Person: Okay, here you’re going to be on Dell now-
Voiceover: If you know the seven digit extension you’d like to reach.
Person: Wait.
Voiceover: Make a purchase, is that correct?
Person: No. Online tech support.
Voiceover: Sorry, I didn’t understand.
Person: Tech support.
Voiceover: Make a purchase, is that correct?
Person: No.
Voiceover: I still didn’t understand.
Person: What about “no” don’t you understand?
Voiceover: Make a purchase, is that correct?
Person: No.
Voiceover: My mistake again. If you’re unsure, say help, or press star. Otherwise please say “order status” or press 1, “make a purchase” or press 2, “technical support” or press 3-
Person: Technical support.
Voiceover: Okay, technical support. To get you to the right technician I need your product’s express service code. If you’re calling about a Dell product, this number is located on a label next to the words “express service code.” It has no letters or dashes. Please say or key in the express service code, or say “help me find it.”
Person: I don’t have it.
Voiceover: Alright, are you calling about a product that has the Dell logo on it?
Person: I have the order number.
Voiceover: If your product has the Dell name on it, say “yes”.
Person: Yes.
Voiceover: Okay, is this product for personal or business use?
Person: Operator.
Voiceover: Please say if the product is mainly for personal or business use.
Person: Operator.
Voiceover: With a little more information I’ll be able to connect you to the agent that can best help you.
Person: Operator.
Voiceover: Let’s try one more time.
Person: No.
Voiceover: Please say if the product is mainly for personal or business use.
Person: Operator…I can’t wait to fill out this survey. Good grief.
Operator: Thank you for calling Dell Hardware Warranty Support. My name is Bill, how can I help you?
Person: Hi, is this, I need 24/7 tech support.
Operator: You’ve reached hardware support right now.
Person: Well I can’t help it that the automated voice message machine couldn’t understand me. But I need tech support on my computer, on my laptop.
Operator: Okay, this is, like I mentioned desktop too. Could you give me the service tag? I could transfer you ma’am.
Person: I can give you the order number.
Operator: Okay.
Person: 401541258
Operator: Okay. Give me just one moment.
Person: (Not to operator)Do you only have tech support for 30 days? That’s what I thought.
Operator: You haven’t received the system yet?
Person: What would make you assume that? I said I needed tech support for my laptop.
Operator: Oh. Right now I just pulled up the account, company 29-
Person: I have the computer, it’s just not working. I need tech support to help me make it work.
Operator: Yes, I understood you ma’am.
Person: It sounded like you didn’t if you thought I hadn’t received it.
Operator: I’m sorry.
Person: I’m sorry too. Let’s just get this done. Could you transfer me?
Operator: Absolutely.
*soothing hold music*
Person: (Not to operator) Me too. What CD? She didn’t return them.
Voiceover: Please wait.
*dial tone*CALL 1

Person: It’s safer that way.
Voiceover: Welcome to Dell, your call may be recorded.
Person: Okay, here you’re going to be on Dell now-
Voiceover: If you know the seven digit extension you’d like to reach.
Person: Wait.
Voiceover: Make a purchase, is that correct?
Person: No. Online tech support.
Voiceover: Sorry, I didn’t understand.
Person: Tech support.
Voiceover: Make a purchase, is that correct?
Person: No.
Voiceover: I still didn’t understand.
Person: What about “no” don’t you understand?
Voiceover: Make a purchase, is that correct?
Person: No.
Voiceover: My mistake again. If you’re unsure, say help, or press star. Otherwise please say “order status” or press 1, “make a purchase” or press 2, “technical support” or press 3-
Person: Technical support.
Voiceover: Okay, technical support. To get you to the right technician I need your product’s express service code. If you’re calling about a Dell product, this number is located on a label next to the words “express service code.” It has no letters or dashes. Please say or key in the express service code, or say “help me find it.”
Person: I don’t have it.
Voiceover: Alright, are you calling about a product that has the Dell logo on it?
Person: I have the order number.
Voiceover: If your product has the Dell name on it, say “yes”.
Person: Yes.
Voiceover: Okay, is this product for personal or business use?
Person: Operator.
Voiceover: Please say if the product is mainly for personal or business use.
Person: Operator.
Voiceover: With a little more information I’ll be able to connect you to the agent that can best help you.
Person: Operator.
Voiceover: Let’s try one more time.
Person: No.
Voiceover: Please say if the product is mainly for personal or business use.
Person: Operator…I can’t wait to fill out this survey. Good grief.
Operator: Thank you for calling Dell Hardware Warranty Support. My name is Bill, how can I help you?
Person: Hi, is this, I need 24/7 tech support.
Operator: You’ve reached hardware support right now.
Person: Well I can’t help it that the automated voice message machine couldn’t understand me. But I need tech support on my computer, on my laptop.
Operator: Okay, this is, like I mentioned desktop too. Could you give me the service tag? I could transfer you ma’am.
Person: I can give you the order number.
Operator: Okay.
Person: 401541258
Operator: Okay. Give me just one moment.
Person: (Not to operator)Do you only have tech support for 30 days? That’s what I thought.
Operator: You haven’t received the system yet?
Person: What would make you assume that? I said I needed tech support for my laptop.
Operator: Oh. Right now I just pulled up the account, company 29-
Person: I have the computer, it’s just not working. I need tech support to help me make it work.
Operator: Yes, I understood you ma’am.
Person: It sounded like you didn’t if you thought I hadn’t received it.
Operator: I’m sorry.
Person: I’m sorry too. Let’s just get this done. Could you transfer me?
Operator: Absolutely.
*soothing hold music*
Person: (Not to operator) Me too. What CD? She didn’t return them.
Voiceover: Please wait.
*dial tone*
Person: Oh great, they transferred me to a number that’s just going da-da-da-da-da.

CALL 2

Person: Hello?
Operator: Hello, uh this is Sharon calling with a survey for Vocalabs. Did you call Dell a few minutes ago?
Person: I did. It was the most horrible experience I’ve ever had and I’m never going to call that number again.
Operator: Oh my.
Person: I’m not, I’m not. The guy that I got when I finally got through was as dumb as the guy that I got that was on the, uh, the system- what’s it called- the automated system. That couldn’t understand me for anything it got so disgusting. I had to just keep saying “operator”, I finally got transferred over to the operator and I talked to him and he had-it was a terrible experience. I’m so upset, ask me your questions so I could answer them for you.
Operator: Well I’m going to ask several yes-no questions and then at the end I can take down any other comments you have.
Person: Oh I hope you took down what I already said, I don’t even want to think about it, but go ahead!
Operator: We are recording this call to make sure we get all of your answers right.
(overlapping)
Person: Oh good, God bless you. I’m real happy hearing that. You know it finally got to the point where he was going to transfer me to tech support, so he finally transfer me after like, I don’t know, five minutes of bantering, he transfers me to a line that’s busy. And I can’t get back to him to get transferred again. And I’m like okay, hanging up now. God, thanks for helping me vent.
Operator: Well my first question is- did you accomplish what you wanted to do on this call?
Person: Absolutely not.
Operator: Did you speak to a person on this call? And I know that you did.
Person: Yes. Finally.
Operator: Did you have any difficulties in reaching a live person?
Person: Yes.
Operator: Did the person or people you spoke to have the right skills and training?
Person: I wouldn’t know so I’m assuming not, no.
Operator: Okay. Did you have any problems using the automated systems on this call?
Person: Yes.
Operator: Overall, were you satisfied with the level of customer service you received on this call?
Person: Absolutely not.
Operator: Did you feel strongly about the way you were treated on this call?
Person: Did I feel strongly? Yes I did.
Operator: Would you recommend Dell to friends or colleagues who are looking for good customer service?
Person: I’d recommend the product, not the customer service, so I’m assuming the specific answer is no. The products are great but that service sucked. Sorry.
Operator: Did you have any other particular comments about this call?
Person: Well, you know, other than the ones that I’ve already said- do I need to reiterate them or can they go back? Or should I reiterate them?
Operator: It’d be nice if you could reiterate them.
Person: Yeah it’d be easier on you, wouldn’t it, okay- Yeah, they need to make their automated service more English intelligible. I’m an English grammar major, that’s why I talk like I do when I get specific. They need to make it more grammatically correct. They need to give it more of a vocabulary so it understands a little more than yes and no. Okay. When somebody says, “I need tech support,” it doesn’t need to come back and say, “Do you need tech support?”. What about “I need tech support,” do you not get? You know what I’m saying? And that’s just one of the problems with the unintelligible language. It has a language problem, it’s not large enough. It needs a larger vocabulary, okay? Then, when you get transferred to an operator, they need to be a little more knowledgable with the type of department. When I first got on the phone with a live operator I gave him my order number, and he said, and he pulled it up and he said, “And you haven’t received a product yet?” I said, “Now what would make you assume I haven’t received a product? I’m calling for tech support, obviously on a product I got.” So, I don’t know if there’s a problem with what he’s reading, with his lack of knowledge, or whatever, but they’ve got some problems there and I’m just really not impressed. So, I just, thank you for letting me share that with you. And I never did get to the tech support department that I needed to go through, so after this now I’m going to have to hang up and call a direct line to tech support, thank god I have that, otherwise we’d never get through because I have a problem with getting online on the laptop. And I’m done now, thank you for letting me share that with you. And I really do love Vocalab.
Operator: We appreciate that-
Person: I know you do, you guys have a great holiday season.
Operator: Finally, Vocalab posts some of the recordings of customer service calls and surveys to its public website in order to highlight both good and bad customer service. Can we have your permission to post the recording of your call to Dell and the survey to Vocalab’s website?
Person: I would love them to do that. Dell needs to know that I very much love the product. I love Dell computers. We bought a laptop and a desktop. I love the computers, I just, I’m not real impressed with the customer service at this time. You know, I do love the products, but as for customer service, I’m sorry.

— BEN POPKEN
Person: Oh great, they transferred me to a number that’s just going da-da-da-da-da.

CALL 2

Person: Hello?
Operator: Hello, uh this is Sharon calling with a survey for Vocalabs. Did you call Dell a few minutes ago?
Person: I did. It was the most horrible experience I’ve ever had and I’m never going to call that number again.
Operator: Oh my.
Person: I’m not, I’m not. The guy that I got when I finally got through was as dumb as the guy that I got that was on the, uh, the system- what’s it called- the automated system. That couldn’t understand me for anything it got so disgusting. I had to just keep saying “operator”, I finally got transferred over to the operator and I talked to him and he had-it was a terrible experience. I’m so upset, ask me your questions so I could answer them for you.
Operator: Well I’m going to ask several yes-no questions and then at the end I can take down any other comments you have.
Person: Oh I hope you took down what I already said, I don’t even want to think about it, but go ahead!
Operator: We are recording this call to make sure we get all of your answers right.
(overlapping)
Person: Oh good, God bless you. I’m real happy hearing that. You know it finally got to the point where he was going to transfer me to tech support, so he finally transfer me after like, I don’t know, five minutes of bantering, he transfers me to a line that’s busy. And I can’t get back to him to get transferred again. And I’m like okay, hanging up now. God, thanks for helping me vent.
Operator: Well my first question is- did you accomplish what you wanted to do on this call?
Person: Absolutely not.
Operator: Did you speak to a person on this call? And I know that you did.
Person: Yes. Finally.
Operator: Did you have any difficulties in reaching a live person?
Person: Yes.
Operator: Did the person or people you spoke to have the right skills and training?
Person: I wouldn’t know so I’m assuming not, no.
Operator: Okay. Did you have any problems using the automated systems on this call?
Person: Yes.
Operator: Overall, were you satisfied with the level of customer service you received on this call?
Person: Absolutely not.
Operator: Did you feel strongly about the way you were treated on this call?
Person: Did I feel strongly? Yes I did.
Operator: Would you recommend Dell to friends or colleagues who are looking for good customer service?
Person: I’d recommend the product, not the customer service, so I’m assuming the specific answer is no. The products are great but that service sucked. Sorry.
Operator: Did you have any other particular comments about this call?
Person: Well, you know, other than the ones that I’ve already said- do I need to reiterate them or can they go back? Or should I reiterate them?
Operator: It’d be nice if you could reiterate them.
Person: Yeah it’d be easier on you, wouldn’t it, okay- Yeah, they need to make their automated service more English intelligible. I’m an English grammar major, that’s why I talk like I do when I get specific. They need to make it more grammatically correct. They need to give it more of a vocabulary so it understands a little more than yes and no. Okay. When somebody says, “I need tech support,” it doesn’t need to come back and say, “Do you need tech support?”. What about “I need tech support,” do you not get? You know what I’m saying? And that’s just one of the problems with the unintelligible language. It has a language problem, it’s not large enough. It needs a larger vocabulary, okay? Then, when you get transferred to an operator, they need to be a little more knowledgable with the type of department. When I first got on the phone with a live operator I gave him my order number, and he said, and he pulled it up and he said, “And you haven’t received a product yet?” I said, “Now what would make you assume I haven’t received a product? I’m calling for tech support, obviously on a product I got.” So, I don’t know if there’s a problem with what he’s reading, with his lack of knowledge, or whatever, but they’ve got some problems there and I’m just really not impressed. So, I just, thank you for letting me share that with you. And I never did get to the tech support department that I needed to go through, so after this now I’m going to have to hang up and call a direct line to tech support, thank god I have that, otherwise we’d never get through because I have a problem with getting online on the laptop. And I’m done now, thank you for letting me share that with you. And I really do love Vocalab.
Operator: We appreciate that-
Person: I know you do, you guys have a great holiday season.
Operator: Finally, Vocalab posts some of the recordings of customer service calls and surveys to its public website in order to highlight both good and bad customer service. Can we have your permission to post the recording of your call to Dell and the survey to Vocalab’s website?
Person: I would love them to do that. Dell needs to know that I very much love the product. I love Dell computers. We bought a laptop and a desktop. I love the computers, I just, I’m not real impressed with the customer service at this time. You know, I do love the products, but as for customer service, I’m sorry.

— BEN POPKEN

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. krunk4ever says:

    Although I agree the experience could’ve been a lot better, the automated system is just an automated system.

    A English grammar major yes, but most likely not a computer science major. She has yet to realize that computers aren’t as smart as humans and these automated systems are usually programmed to only accept certain answers.

    Screaming operator will not get you an operator if the system doesn’t have an entry for operator.

    Repeating their answer for long phrases is to confirm what the user said. A computer sometimes can mishear things and interpret what you said incorrectly. Their listening skills obviously are as good as an English major.

    Also, screaming sentences to the system just makes things worse. The easiest way to navigate these voice automation systems is to be short and concise, and not spew whole sentences.

    I’ve personally prefer the # system where you punch in a # to specify your choice as I find it much less frustrating since a computer can understand the tone of a ‘3’ a lot better than me trying to say ‘technical support’.

    I’ve also experienced where I got hung up randomly, sometimes after waiting 30mins on the phone just to be cut off. That really pisses me off too, but that’s pretty common nowadays.

    Just my 2 cents.

  2. krunk4ever says:

    correction: Their listening skills obviously aren’t as good as an English major.

  3. faust1200 says:

    I’m not sure which contains more actual intelligence. The automated phone system or this user. I think she and Dell are match made in heaven.

  4. elisa says:

    eh, but they should have an entry for “operator.” Every company should. There’s no excuse for continuing to trap someone in voice recognition hell.

  5. Michael says:

    Also, screaming sentences to the system just makes things worse.

    …or better. When I worked for CVS/Pharmacy and they installed voice-operated phone menus, they also had a stress meter that would quickly transfer you to a live person if you started sounding pissy. Yelling into the receiver was absolutely the fastest way to get to the operator. Store managers knew this better than anyone and when they got stuck waiting for somebody at corporate to pick up, venting all the day’s frustrations on the phone system ensured they didn’t stay on hold for long.

    Not sure if they still use the same system at CVS, but I know if I call FedEx and start swearing it’s the only way I can ever get hold of a live person.

  6. spanky says:

    What’s an English grammar major? Does she mean linguistics, maybe?

    Anyway, I fully understand the frustration with those weird voice recognition systems, and have even cursed their mothers for sheer sport, But I’ve also studied computational linguistics and worked with natural language processing systems, so I know it’s not going to work.

    Giving these systems a larger vocabulary and making them more “grammatically correct,” whatever that means, isn’t the trivial task she makes it out to be.

    It is a messed up and complaint-worthy system, but not for the reasons she seems to think.

  7. spanky says:

    Ha ha! I didn’t know about that CVS thing, Michael. Thank you. Now I can yell at voice recognition systems and pretend I’m doing it for a reason.

    Now I just need an excuse for flipping off barcode scanners and ATM cameras.

  8. Sheik says:

    If she actually has a Dell product infront of her then maybe she should give the express service code like both he and the automated service asked for, instead of the order number. The guy was asking a legit question. If some crazy lady was calling me and giving me an order number when I ask for the service number that might lead me to believe that she infact does not have the product infront of her.

    I have never has a pleasant experience on a customer service hotline, but she is doing just about everything wrong. I dont know if she got the first three iptions before the transcript began but it clearly says “Technical support.” Not “tech support” and not “online tech support”. If she thinks that their automated system need work her listening skills need some work.

    Now I hate Dell, dont get me wrong. But I’m inclined to join the “a computer is only as smart as the user” camp

  9. I laughed my ass off reading this transcript.

    I have to go through these automated systems at least once every day and it does start to wear thin.

    I’m always afraid that I will see one of my calls posted here one of these days, or anywhere online for that matter. I dont understand why Bill was transfering her, he could have helped her resolve her issue. Hardware warranty support is the department that could have helped her.

  10. Legodude522 says:

    Apple’s automated system works good. Probably the only good thing those bastards gave me.

  11. Ben Thoma says:

    Both this woman and the Dell automated system are broken. When she reached a real person, there was a simple misunderstanding about an quick assumption he made. He apologized for it, and she over-reacted to it.

    Perhaps it’s proof that automated systems simply frustrate consumers to the point of being hard to work with once they do reach a real person.

  12. ElPresidente408 says:

    I’ve found on most automated systems, you can reach an operator by saying “operator” or pressing 0. Sometimes you have to pick a sub-option before you can ask for the operator.

  13. robertseaton says:

    she was crazy…prob could not find the “on” button

  14. mavrc says:

    This lady may be crazy, but I can say this for an absolute fact:

    The IVR is evil. Evil, evil, evil incarnate. It’s horrible. It simply does not work, even when you enunciate and use the exact phrases it asks you to use. In addition, it is very hard to keep from laughing when the call-center worker next to you, who like you, has to suffer through many calls to the IVR every day, blows up at it: “TECHNICAL SUPPORT TECHNICAL SUPPORT TECHNICAL F****NG SUPPORT!”

    If you think Dell’s IVR is bad, you should try Microsoft’s XP activation line. Reading twenty-some-odd digits into an IVR over and over again should be considered cruel and unusual punishment. “That was one two three four nine?”

  15. Kalik says:

    Is it just me, or does she seem like a bitch?

    Sure there are times when trying to reach an operator is annoying and I can understand that. But once she actually gets to the operator, she doesn’t even care what the other person is saying and just has a one-sided conversation. Maybe if she were more pleasant she would get better service.

    Also, regarding the automated system, most systems that I’ve encounterd has a time frame after its asked you a question to recognize speech. By cutting off the automated system while it’s still asking the question, the machine probably can only register fragments of what she’s saying thus backfiring on her.

  16. rbf2000 says:

    How about a little patience? I hear a lot of people complain about automated voice systems and how confusing and/or difficult they are to navigate. I think the problem, at least with the voice recognition systems, are that people don’t realize that saying a specific key phrase is akin to pushing a button on the phone. And just because these systems can understand a few phrases, they are not smart.

    I understand getting frustrated at the system – even though it was her lack of patience that caused the system to not work, but why let that frustration carry over to the human that you talk with after you get through the system? He certainly didn’t have anything to do with your problems getting through the voice system.

    Certainly insulting the person when you finally get somebody is not the best way to accomplish your task.

    It’s actually kind of ironic, she got pissed at the system when it didn’t understand what she was saying, but the Dell rep certainly managed to keep his cool, even when the lady didn’t understand what he was saying (asking for the service number). Maybe the automated system’s “grammar” is fine, and this lady just needed to take a couple of classes in “common sense,” or perhaps, “listening 101.”

  17. Hoss says:

    Kalik “Is it just me, or does she seem like a bitch?”

    It’s just you, she doesn’t seem like a bitch…SHE’S A CERTIFIED BITCH!

  18. Jon Parker says:

    Sometimes I have managed to get put through to an operator by not saying anything, or mumbling nonsense syllables.

    I wasn’t impressed with the way the woman handled the call at all, but the live Dell rep was professional and courteous.

    But every IVR should recognize the words “operator,” person” and “human” at any point during the call.

  19. thereviewer says:

    I blame the lady way more than dell here. She didn’t listen, didn’t want to actually make it to the right place, to get help. She just wanted a person, she probably would have gotten to the right place, if she had waited and answered the questions correctly.

  20. acambras says:

    Yeah, I’m one of the world’s most impatient people and I loathe IVR, but I think she went a little overboard on the ranting. She was so wound up that (a) she lost sight of the fact that IVR has limited recognition capabilities; and (b) when she did get a real live human, she alienated him.

    Computerized phone systems suck, but they’re a sad fact of life now — the only place I can think of that has real humans answering the phone is LL Bean. If we allow frustration to get us so worked up that we can no longer listen or communicate effectively, we’ve shot ourselves in the foot (feet?) And the robotic voice on the other end of the line doesn’t give a damn.

    Hang up, take a deep breath, count to ten (or to a thousand), call back, stay calm and rational, and get what you called for.

  21. Youthier says:

    The automated service does not respond to sarcasm either. Also, why speak when they give you the option to punch the numbers?

    And I don’t blame the rep for being confused by the order number. I’m not going to say that Dell customer service is awesome but people can make these calls easier on themselves by having the right information available.

    And if they’re still douches when you give the right info, at least people won’t blog that you’re a moron.

  22. Sudonum says:

    Want to get a human? http://www.gethuman.com/ this site has been posted here before.

  23. Saying what I think of this woman would get me banned so I won’t, but who tries to have a real conversation with an automated system?

    They need to give it more of a vocabulary so it understands a little more than yes and no.

    No, YOU need to give it yes or no answers! Once it became clear to her (which should have happened right after the system thought she said purchase) that the system did not understand all words and full sentences she should have stopped tyring to talk to it like it was a human being. It’s like she wanted to have a bad experience just to make a point about how she feels computer systems should work.

  24. Why not do the sensible thing and log onto dell’s tech support chat? Go to support.dell.com and hit the big ‘chat with tech support’ button. Works great for me and I use it 3-4 times a week. Everyone knows that phone tech support is bad, so do it via chat.

  25. orielbean says:

    The other thing that helps immensely is the usage of the “warm transfer” vs a cold one. Cold = operator punches in the transfer number, and dumps you into the next system while you wait for someone else to pick up. If the first guy fucks up, you are SOL.

    The warm transfer is when the first operator stays on hold w/ you and talks to the new operator directly. I worked in a call center where we did this and it was fantastic.

    It is bad for cost though, as you are tying up two operators at once (and they ALL are measured on call length far more than satisfaction or anything else as time = money). Only companies that service other companies’ employees will use this, as you the customer can’t fire the customer service company for sucking, but a client company can.

  26. DeeJayQueue says:

    why does that look like Kari Byron in the pic?

  27. Sudonum says:

    I also second paulcrist. I recently had a problem with a Dell a little over a year old and was dreading the call to “off shore” tech support. I decided to try chat option. It worked great, except for the fact that the tech didn’t know what the word “amber” meant. As in a “flashing amber light”. Once we got past that the problem was quickly found, the part shipped out and tech sent to my house within a couple days.

  28. Jon says:

    That call wasn’t really bad. I think the person calling was more rude than anything Dell did in that call. At least she was nicer to the survey woman.

  29. pego says:

    Dear English Grammar Major,
    If this phone call has been “the most horrible experience” of your life, I suggest you never set foot outside your house. Do you wish me to reiterate my advice?

  30. dotyoureyes says:

    I agree. Not that bad in the grand scheme of tech support calls. The human being was more patient than I’d have been with a caller like that.

    Dell should have its IVR listen for “operator,” but that lady would have been transferred to the right place to begin with if she’d just flipped over the laptop and found the f’ing service tag!

  31. spanky says:

    Well, she was being unreasonable, at least to the poor hardware support guy, but there might be some valuable lessons in there somewhere.

    For one, computerized voice recognition systems can be frustrating and confusing for people, and I wonder sometimes if giving them such a ‘human’ affect doesn’t backfire. The more natural the voice sounds, the more people are going to tend to respond to it as though it is a human. Which is fine when it works well, but as a human’s frustration begins to escalate, and the computerized voice continues to respond in a calm, pleasant tone, that can serve to escalate. Think about it. When you’re dealing with an irrational, emotional person, the quickest and most effective way to make them worse is to stay cool, calm, and detached. Personally, I only do that if I really want to mess with someone. These systems do that by default.

    Even if someone is fully aware that they’re talking to a machine, people are still going to have an instinctive response to those cues, whether they actually vent or not. (And I’m a strong advocate of yelling at robots. It may not be productive, but it’s fun.)

    In a way, I think a lot of businesses have jumped the gun with voice recognition. They’re cosmetically advanced, with pretty seamless sounding transitions, and many can actually fool people into thinking they’re talking to a human, but the actual language processing functions are not similarly advanced. Look up the Dove Foundation, for example, which uses a semi-automated system to do telephone surveys. People get pig-biting mad at them.

    Maybe if those systems didn’t sound quite so human, they wouldn’t inspire such emotional reactions.

    I’ll open YOUR pod bay door, I will, you soulless automaton!

  32. acambras says:

    A little off topic, but the other night I was talking to a Hungarian friend who can’t seem to use OnStar because its voice recognition system can’t handle her heavy Hungarian accent.

  33. alicetheowl says:

    I heard someone remark once that he wouldn’t be surprised to hear, on a voice-recognition system: “If you would like to speak to a sales representative, please sing ‘I’m a little teapot’. If you would like to speak to tech support, please recite Hamlet’s soliloquy.”

    Apparently she worked at a cubicle farm where everyone was forever calling up customer service centers on their lunch breaks, so she got to listen to them all talking to the automated systems while she sat at her desk.

    It’s an amusing mental image, at least.

  34. MeOhMy says:

    “they need to make their automated service more English intelligible. I’m an English grammar major, that’s why I talk like I do when I get specific.”

    The first sentence does not read right, especially coming from someone about to claim having some sort of English Grammar degree. I think maybe she meant “English grammar school major.”

  35. Why not do the sensible thing and log onto dell’s tech support chat?

    She couldn’t get online. You never find out from the phone calls what was wrong but according to the web site linked to before the transcript that was the problem she was calling about.

  36. middy says:

    How could you not have an express service code you clueless rage-aholic?

    Try getting more sleep…

  37. robertseaton says:

    I second the worst ever = the Mircosoft XP activation line…I forgot all about that one.

  38. faust1200 says:

    One little trick I use sometimes – if the hold time seems like it’s forever opt for the spanish speaking option. Many times theres little or no wait. When they answer say “oh I didn’t know this was spanish only” and they usually help you anyway en ingles.