Interactive voice response (IVR) systems are notoriously annoying. As the joke goes, “For a list of all the ways that Technology has failed to improve the quality of your life, please press 3″…
Some IVR systems are better than others; the best will make allowance for the user’s need to get around them. I ran into a good one today. I called Continental Airlines to do a seat assignment, and this IVR setup gives me a bunch of options that don’t include what I want.
On a hunch, I said loudly: “I want to talk to an agent!”
System: “I think you said you want to talk to an agent. But if you give me your flight details first, I can help the agent serve you faster” (or something to that effect).
I play along and give the flight details to the machine.
System: “OK, your flight is confirmed, as follows […] You can hang up now”.
WTF?!! Hey, it promised! So I say, firmly and loudly:
“I want to talk to an agent!”
System: “OK, I’ll transfer you now”.
Got it? I took a stand and the system capitulated! Have to hand it to them, though: they never mentioned the option to talk to a human, but they included the speech recognition to identify when I ask for it. Good job! [well… almost. I was euphoric for of the three seconds until the system helpfully added: “your waiting time will be approximately 25 minutes”. And it was good at its word this time].