Options and Messages

Many, if not most, people dislike options and automated messages when they phone companies. It’s something that we have to put up with. As companies get bigger departments get bigger, hence a system to put you through to the relevant department. Otherwise you would get through to someone who would have to put you through to someone else, then they would transfer you to yet another person. A large company could end up with 100 switchboard operators and very few people actually helping the customer.

Some companies have very easy options to negotiate when you call them, while others are horrendous.

Without mentioning names, one of our partner companies has to have one of the best option systems I’ve come across. One of my customers told me that he had counted up to 19 options! You get to the third set of options to be greeted with the statement: ‘You will now have 3 final options.’ Note the word final. You press the number you want only to be greeted with the next statement: ‘You now have 6 options.’ Love it!

So the options are there hopefully to help us get through to the correct department. It doesn’t always work. Many people couldn’t be bothered to press the right option. They then begin their transfer journey and end up quite annoyed by the time they get through to the correct person. Solution? Press the right option.

Then there’s the automated messages. I often get a customer saying: ‘Are you a person or a robot?’ I stay silent so they can make up their own minds. We’re not allowed to advise.

Because so many companies are regulated by various organisations, they put the relevant information on a recorded message. It saves the agent having to tell each and every customer the legal bits. The agent can concentrate on the subject you are calling about. Of course it’s annoying to hear all this information. Welcome to regulations in the 21st century.

Customers – that’s all of us – either want to feel safe when making a purchase, or would we prefer to go back to a few decades ago when companies could do and say anything to get money from us? Regulations and growth in business have necessitated the option system and the automated messages. It’s not going to change. They may find ways of making it easier, but it won’t stop. We will all have to put up with it.

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