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Why Do Companies Stick with Voice Menus? 260

eliot1785 asks: "We've all had to put up with this at one point or another — you call a company for customer service or tech support, and rather than getting traditional touch-pad menu options, you encounter an annoying system that wants you to 'just say' how it can help you. Invariably, the system fails to understand your input, or picks up background noise or coughs as intended inputs. After a few failures, you have to press '0' to speak with an operator. Why do companies think that customers like these voice menu systems? Is there any research to suggest that they do, or are companies simply embracing the systems because they are new technology? More importantly, when will they realize that the systems don't work and go back to the traditional touch-pad menu option systems?"
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Why Do Companies Stick with Voice Menus?

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  • by eyeball ( 17206 ) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @09:25PM (#15986937) Journal
    We all try to follow the rule: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." IT follows a similar rule: "if it ain't broke but fixing it justifies my job, we'll fix it."

  • by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @09:30PM (#15986961) Homepage
    pausing between #'s helps
    It's too bad no one's tried putting a numeric input pad on telephones, to make this unnecessary.
  • by tulare ( 244053 ) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @10:56PM (#15987437) Journal
    I've got a 4-year-old who is going through that stage where the use of the phone causes instant pandemonium - she sees me on the phone, and suddenly the same child who has been ignoring me for the past half hour will do anything and everything to grab my attention. This is common at this age, apparently. A large part of the problem is that many IVR systems are programmed to hang up if they get too many invalid responses. At least with a "press 3 for billing" solution, you can let it babble for a minute while you can handle things not related to talking to a robot. I'm sure other parents can relate to the following typical conversation:
    IVR Bot: "To talk to billing, say 'billing.' To get help with your connection, say 'connection.' If you'd like help with something else, say 'something else.'"
    Me: "Firstname-middlename-lastname, put down that hammer, NOW!"
    IVR Bot: "I'm sorry. I didn't understand what you needed. Can you please say that again?"
    Me: "I said now."
    IVR Bot: "I didn't quite make that out. One more time please?"
    Me: "ONE... TWO..."
    IVR Bot: "Thanks for calling. Goodbye!"
  • by littlerubberfeet ( 453565 ) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @12:45AM (#15987990)
    No, no, no!

    All the person has to do is learn to whistle. As long as he can whistle two specific frequencies at the same time within .5 percent of the ITU-T Q.23 specification, he can use the standard DTMF menus!

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"