Press One for English


I don’t normally write pet peeves posts, but this one has really got under my skin recently. This is similar to the “Or Current Resident” post I posted a while back. This post focuses on the corporations that can’t seem to understand that using an inbound calling system that requires me spend hours answering questions by voice or keypad only to hope that someone might be able to help me adds further insult to injury by first asking me to press one if I want this depressing experience in English.

English as Primary Language Debate

I don’t want this post to become a debate over English Only in our country. But, I am one of those cold hearted conservative bastards that believes if you want to become a citizen of my country, let alone simply live in it, I expect you to learn English and be able to assimilate into our culture, adding your unique qualities to our mixing pot. If I lived in Italy, I would learn Italian, not expect all the shops in town to learn my native language. When I visit my relatives in Germany, I speak German with them and their communities. I don’t expect them to all acquiesce to my demand and speak English. That said, just to avoid that debate.

Simplify Please – Ask one question

Why is it so hard for them to do this: “If you can’t understand me, press 1“. The rest of English speaking persons could continue on to their frustrating and infuriating experience of answering the several hundred other questions and they could then branch the others off into another menu in which can determine which of the hundreds of possible languages in the US should their menus be tailored to.

Is that really too hard to implement? Am I being unreasonable?

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  1. #1 by trainingtime on July 30, 2008 - 1:17 pm

    With so many automated systems out there, isn’t it nice when you have that rare experience of calling customer service and actually get to talk to a person. Customer service needs to get back to it’s roots, back to the people. Can you imagine, people talking to people? What an idea!

  2. #2 by Tim Rueb on July 30, 2008 - 3:20 pm

    trainingtime – thanks for catching my point through my rant. The English language is not the important part, the poor customer service that we have come to expect from so many companies is really the point.

  3. #3 by Gerrit Eicker on July 30, 2008 - 3:55 pm

    Trying to scale communications is the pest of our times.

    Smile! Gerrit – We speak Online.

  4. #4 by Tim Rueb on July 30, 2008 - 4:48 pm

    Hi Gerrit – Thanks for stopping by.

    Yes, it is very frustrating. At some point someone will have to create a system that is better.

  5. #5 by Gerrit Eicker on July 31, 2008 - 2:41 am

    Tim, I don’t think that there’s a better system than men. Slowly but surely we’ll get back to the oldest, proofed system: one to one communication. Social Media leads the way to it.

    Smile! Gerrit – We speak Online.

  6. #6 by Tim Rueb on July 31, 2008 - 2:26 pm

    Gerrit – I can understand that point of view. Although, I think technology could be better implemented to support these types of situations.

    I envision a system of using QR Codes, in which, a problem or requirement demands a call to the service provider, but in this case a QR Code is issued, generated or distributed for just such an occasion, you scan it in with your cell phone or into your computer, it calls directly to the persons that can help you and all the pertinent information in encoded so that not a single question is asked other then ‘When do you want us there to fix the problem?’

    Wow, that would be awesome.

  7. #7 by Gerrit Eicker on August 1, 2008 - 1:54 am

    That – “it calls directly to the persons that can help” – is exactly what I mean: Technology will help, definitely, and there will be scaling factors, but in the end it’s man that help man.

    Smile! Gerrit – We speak Online.

  8. #8 by Tim Rueb on August 1, 2008 - 11:07 am

    Gerrit – point well taken and I agree with you there, but it’s all the ineffective and frustrating ‘helping’ until I get to the right person that has my shorts in a bunch right now. That include phone systems, and tiered help desks until finally you get to that person who actually can do something.

  9. #9 by dajjal on August 2, 2008 - 12:31 am

    In my opinion, English should be the default. Give the others a diversion code to key in.

    Some of us have pulse dialing, not tone. That creates a problem in dealing with “press 1 for English”.

    I coded our software to send an email to me when it crashes in certain critical procedures. It reports the software title, module, procedure, line number & error code. That aids in diagnosing the problem.

  10. #10 by Gerrit Eicker on August 2, 2008 - 4:38 am

    True. In my opinion it’s just a matter of time till even big companies need to get better there if they don’t want to loose their customers.

    Smile! Gerrit – We speak Online.

  11. #11 by Tim Rueb on August 2, 2008 - 10:38 am

    @dajjal – great point on pulse. But those people are in trouble either way with the current menu systems. Considering the dwindling number of pulse remaining these days it probably doesn’t pay to have a separate number for them to call. But you are right, the assumption should be that English is the default.

    @Gerrit – you are correct my friend. (Love all your posts on Twitter BTW) Competition is the answer. We need to have some companies noticed for excelling in this area. Right now the perception is that all companies are driven by the telco system capabilities and those are not user friendly, but great for analyzing data of the call centers.

  12. #12 by onecrazyredhead on August 3, 2008 - 1:12 pm

    Tim …

    Thank you for taking the time to comment on my Customer Service Blog – I am sincerely appreciative.

    One of the things I’ve had aspirations of doing but haven’t yet crossed it off my to do list is to interview customers and ask them what how they define “Customer Service”
    and then interview a few large corporations and ask them what their definition of a “Customer” is and compare notes !!

    I agree wholeheartedly with the information contained in your blog !

    Maryann aka onecrazyredhead

  13. #13 by Tim Rueb on August 3, 2008 - 9:42 pm

    @onecrazyredhead – I wish you the best of luck, and I hope it leads to a leader that will put all the other customer services to shame.

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