12 JanHello, How May I Help You?

I seriously miss the days when I would call a company, any company, and someone on the other end would actually pick up and say “Hello, (name of company), this is (insert name), how may I help you?”

Today, anywhere you call, you have to get through a maze of phone prompts and interactive voice response systems, before you get the information you are calling about. It wouldn’t be so bad if it were simple! But it’s gotten so out of control with so many options to choose from, and voice-response systems that don’t recognize what you are saying, even though you know you are saying it loudly and clearly enough! How many times have you heard “I’m sorry, the computer did not capture that information, please say your response again” BEEP…..

I wonder if these company’s actually try out their phone systems before they release them to their customers? I’m guessing no because if they did, they would see how utterly irritating they can be. I consider myself an educated, technologically-minded person, so it is really frustrating when I can’t get through a series of prompts to get at the right information! Most of the time you can’t get back to the main menu, or you can’t push 0 or # or * to talk to a live person, so you have to hang up and start all over again.

Hello, How May I Help You?

And then there are those annoying messages that give you the information you don’t really need to hear – because you hear it everytime you call that company! But you have to wait to get through the message before you can start picking your prompts.

I recently called Sears to get their store hours for this Friday (Black Friday). Simple enough right? Well, it would have been if it were 10 years ago! 10 years ago I would have called and someone nice and pleasant on the other end would have said: “Good morning, Sears, this is Michelle speaking, how may I help you?” And I would have said “what time do you open on Friday?” and she would have replied “5 a.m.”. Done. End of conversation.

This is the way it went this morning:

Computer voice picked up and said, “Thank you for calling Sears”. For store hours press 1. For store info press 2″.

OK, simple enough, I want store hours – so I pressed 1.

Hello, How May I Help You?

“We are open today from 9-9 p.m. For tomorrow, Thursday, we are closed for the Thanksgiving holiday. To hear this information again, press 1. Or press 2 for store options.” OK… no information about Friday? Black Friday? That’s important, why isn’t that on their recording?

So I pressed “0″ hoping to get an operator to ask her that simple question. Again the computer voice: “I’m sorry, that is not a valid command”. So I hung up and dialed again.

This time I tried option 2 which was store options. “Please say the name of the department you wish to reach.” I don’t know? What department would give me store hours for Friday? So I said “main”. Again the computer voice: “You want the home office, is this correct?” I guess….. so I said “Yes!” emphatically to the computer voice – wishing she were real and I could strangle her.

I reached someone in the home office who said: “hello this is Sears, how may I direct your call?” I asked her about Friday’s hours, saying it wasn’t on the recording, and suggesting it should be. She told me 5 a.m.

I bet that recording doesn’t get updated until Friday.