Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Automated Voice Recognition System

Many companies are using this feature now; banks, utilities, credit card companies. Instead of pushing the buttons on the phone that correspond to your social securtiy number, account number and zip code you can speak these things into your phone. I am sure the goal is to make your life easier. Let me explain the problem with this.

Typical day in my home, 3, yes count 3, screaming toddlers - maybe they are playing, perhaps it is a tantrum or fight, they probably just want LOTS of attention - are existing in 800 square feet. The only private room is the bathroom, but my newly walking toddler cries and bangs his head on the door while my newly potty trained toddler knocks politely, but incessantly on the door asking what I am doing and can she go pee-pee now.

So I am trying to cancel a phone line, gather information about my account or talk to a service representative while the children all vie for attention. I decide I am NOT going to talk into the phone since there is so much screaming in the background. Instead I manually start pushing 16 digits on the phone. However, the *intelligent* software hears the screams and interprets them. "Oh, you want to change a password?" I start saying "No" and pressing the O button to get the operator. "I'm sorry, most people are calling for one of these 3 reasons. Is this why you are calling?" Again I yell "No" while my toddler pulls on my pant leg and the older one is yelling, "more corn mommy". After I finally get put on hold, "you may experience unusually long wait times today" and the children are still screaming/yelling/playing/driving me crazy I hang up.

At 8 pm silence has fallen over the house after the last hour of fighting to get baths and jammies on. I lay on the couch to complete my phone call. I again use the buttons rather than my voice. Although there isn't a sound in the house I never know when crying might erupt. It works. Finally. I take care of my business and politely tell the representative that the companies software - like all the voice recognition software - is AWFUL! It makes being a stay-at-home mom impossible. He apologizes, but won't do anything about it. Its not his job. And that would require more paperwork.

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