I just had a call from Homebase — or was it Argos? They weren’t sure. It was a robot who called me; one with a surreal mid-Atlantic accent. It asked me to press one if I was the person expecting the delivery. I duly did the phone dance that happens with mobiles when you are trying to listen and press keys at the same time. Success!
I was then put through to a ringing tone which went on a bit. Hang on, you rang me Homebase, not the other way round. Then: “We’re sorry, but we cannot put you through to an agent at the moment. Goodbye.” Then ‘it’ rang off.
Was this a prank? No, just usual corporate nonsense. A slavish belief that automatic call-handling systems are a neat idea and should be trusted with your biggest asset — a buying customer. Let’s agree — they are a bad idea. They don’t work and we all hate them.
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Don’t get me wrong, they can be useful. There are those workshops where people slap them around on walls with words like ‘OPTIMISM’ and ‘EMPOWERMENT’ scrawled on them. I am sure that can help but it’s a bit earnest for my taste. I prefer quiet reflection.