Friday, April 27, 2012

10 Notoriously Bad Auto Attendant Systems

One of the biggest pet peeves among customers is the automated attendant. Ranking right up there with being placed on hold, the interminable purgatory of phone trees is enough to drive consumers up a real live tree. It’s that lethal combination of being sent through a maze of menu options, which never seem to cover every contingency, and the absence of any human contact that can make the pain go away that drives even the sanest person crazy. The following are ten of the worst offenders when it comes to auto attendant systems:

  1. AT&T – It’s possible to go full circle several times through their phone tree without ever reaching an option that can shortcut you to a live person. In fact, an irony of this list is that it includes so many corporate entities whose core business is communications.
  2. AOL – A company with an historically bad record for customer service, America Online, now AOL, has gained its notoriety as much for the extreme difficulty customers encounter when attempting to cancel their accounts as for the phone gymnastics required of them to do so.
  3. Comcast – They may have blazing fast internet speeds, but customer service can be measured with a calendar instead of a stopwatch. Don’t make any plans for a good while if you’ve got to call their customer support.
  4. Dell - We thought maybe with the decrease in desktop and laptop sales, it might be a tad easier to get to speak with a carbon-based unit at Dell tech support. We thought wrong. It’s still a half-day ordeal getting help – or at least it seems that way when navigating the phone tree and listening to that annoying recording.
  5. Time-Warner Cable – Another trend we noticed when compiling this list is that most of the companies that were rated worst for their automated answering services also received low scores on their customer service in general. TWC fits this category, though it’s unclear whether this is a case of simple correlation or causation.
  6. DISH Network – One of the cardinal sins of programming an automated attendant is poorly structured phone trees. That is, a caller should be able to navigate easily through the menu options in order to get effective assistance for the issue they’re calling about. Not so with DISH.
  7. Bank of America – It would probably be easier to procure the equipment and materials necessary to print your own currency than it is to reach someone who can assist you at B of A. As with many other automated attendants, there are not enough options to account for every circumstance, so callers are frequently transferred after long hold times.
  8. Sprint – Telecom companies love those IVR’s. Unfortunately, we don’t. And apparently not many of them can recognize salty language, so we constantly have to repeat ourselves – loudly – and with very minimal success.
  9. Citigroup – We’re guessing that banks, cable and phone companies get their auto attendants from the same flea market vendor, because the experience is fairly identical for customers of all three industries.
  10. Capital One – As we were saying, it doesn’t take Scotland Yard to figure out the trend here. Phone calls are often routed to the wrong service rep, and it’s unclear whether the calls are being dumped back into a generic queue after timing out on hold, or the menu is simply not routing calls properly.
Taken From Landline Phone Service

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