Twilight Zone: what if customers automated, too?

Spoken | August 9, 2016

IVR’s can save time, money and, if done right (and that’s a big IF), frustration for the customer. More often, IVRs are poorly designed with deep menus and imperfect speech recognition engines. And with more organizations automating for the benefit of their customers, have you ever wondered: what if the customers started automating for the benefit of the company? What if a customer bot could just repeat the issue over and over again? What would happen if one bot were talking to another?

You’d get something like this, courtesy of Dave Griffiths:

And a very gracious hat tip to Joan Koeber-Walker for bringing this Twilight Zone fantasy of fully-automated customer service to my attention. A nice chuckle for the day!

With all the chuckles this video brings, to me it hit deeply, too. The thing is, no speech recognition engine is perfect–or anywhere near it, no matter what claims the company might make. The technology just hasn’t caught up to the vagaries of human speech, and it most likely won’t for a while. A robot still can’t tell the difference between a customer clearing her throat and saying a phone number. And I’m not holding my breath for that technological advancement; we’re still miles and years away from it.

The reason this video is funny is that the idea of a robot talking to a robot is, well, pretty darn ridiculous. For the interaction to work, we need humans. Of course, we at Spoken add a little secret sauce and supplement our “robots” (IVRs) with a human safety net.

So go ahead, bots. Call in. We’ve got humans on our end that can understand you. 🙂

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