Automated Audrey

Real Rhonda vs Automated Audrey... The world is going virtual and there's not much we can do about it, but is it a good thing?  I recently read an article which made it appear that it is and that it's what people want.  A recent study they cited said: "Actually, what customers prefer is self-reliance. A recent Forrester Report showed that only 28 percent of U.S. online consumers 'prefer to contact companies via telephone or e-mail rather than using a company’s website to get answers to their questions.' And we feel certain that, as younger generations turn into a larger segment of the market, they are going to drive upward the percentage of people disinclined to interact with humans for assistance." I see a few problems with this finding and wonder how you all see it where you're from.  Here's what I see: First,this says that only 28% of online customers prefer to contact companies via phone or email.  What about all the other customers who are relegated to calling an 800 number answered by Automated Audrey who prompts them to state the problem in a feeble attempt to rout their call to the proper department?  How many times have YOU been on hold for twenty minutes where you were told for the third time you weren't in the right department even if you pushed the proper button...TWICE?   It's happened to me more times than I care to remember. Then it goes on to talk about how young people are increasingly disinclined to talk to a live person.  I think that is probably true, however mostly because they are more accustomed to technology (an over abundance of texting) and to some degree because the average young person really doesn't know how to talk to human beings!  Part of the problem stems from the low rate of effective communicators out there anymore.  Very few schools teach communication skills, public speaking maybe, but not general communication skills. Next, while customers may prefer self-reliance, how much of it is really available to them on a website?  Many websites I visit aren't easy to navigate, are not well-written or intuitive and don't answer the particular questions I have. Wondering if I'm just an old fuddy duddy, I asked my 20 year old daughter (Text Ninja and Google Wizard) for her opinion on this topic and she said she often gets frustrated by Automated Audrey mostly because she doesn't ever seem to have the answer to her specific issue programmed in to her databanks.  She says if she was able to find the answer to her query without calling, she wouldn't need to ask the question. So what say you out there in blogland? * Do you prefer to call or find the answer for yourself on the company website? * Do you often get frustrated with Automated Audrey and long for a Real Rhonda or at least a Breathing Betty? * What's your experience?


  • jojosblog

    Cindy, you are right. The answers on the site are usually yes or no, black and white, but often our questions are shades of gray.

    Thanks Cindy!

  • cindy holman

    Great article JoJo!

  • Cindy Phillips

    I hate the automated system. most of the time what I’m calling about needs a person otherwise I would have done it on the website. A lot of the websites are too ‘black and white" wanting yes and no answers and unfortunately the world isn’t yes and no. there’s a lot of gray maybes out there. I just keep punching 0 until the automated person gets irritated at me and sends me to a person with kind o f ‘oh all right, i will connect you with an operator’ attitude. LOL

    and if I get someone that doens’t speak english i just say wrong number or some excuse and hang up call back again until i get someone who speaks english. that’s why i like tmobile. so far all are american speaking.

    the websites are a pain if you want anything but the basic look at your account or pay a bill.

  • jojosblog

    I can understand the need for a company to cut costs, but most people tell me they are frustrated with the level of customer service Automated Audrey can provide. Press 1 if you want store hours and directions. Press 2 to listen to our commercial. Press 3 if you speak Spanish. Press 4 for billing questions. Press 5 to make a payment. Press 6 to be put on hold. Press 7 to speak to an uncaring non person who will ask you to describe the problem in excruciatingly painful detail and not solve it. Press 8 to go back to this menu. Press 9 if you forgot who you were calling.

  • Carla

    Good topic, JoJo! I’m an old fuddy-duddy, so. . . I much prefer the live person; provided, that is, that they speak an understandable form of English! I will try the help phone number one time. If I get Automated Audrey with no clear instructions on how to get to someone still on this side of the sod, then I will resort to email or looking at a FAQ or Terms of Service on the web site. Frustration levels abound in all these types of situations, for sure! I prefer live communication, but as much as I hate to admit it, I’m being dragged kicking & screaming into the techno age!

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