Press 1 for this, 2 for that

I wanted to share a rather humerous automated phone survey I participated in (reluctantly). Our Chevy Tahoe (the one below that reached 200K miles in September) broke down on Barb last week on her way to work after voting. So we called AAA and had it towed to our mechanic. It needed a new fuel pump, which went once before and left us stranded years back at 97,000 miles. It appears 100K is the life span for this fuel pump.

Anyway, the automated phone survey was regarding their service. One of the questions was something like “How satisfied were you with the promptness of the driver? Press 1 for Very Satisfied, 2 for Satisfied, 3 for Neutral, 4 for Dissatisfied, and 5 for Very Dissatisfied.” Since we waited over 30 minutes (they had estimated 45 minutes) I chose #2 for Satisfied. The system came back with:

“You pressed the number 2. If this is correct, press 1. Otherwise press 2.”

In other words, I had to press a number to confirm that I had pressed a certain number. Talk about introducing confusion and opportunity for error! I used to work at a company (Voicetek) that developed and sold IVR systems capable of applications like this, but it was essentially a tool kit. With it a customer can write a good application or a poor one. So I always tell people not to blame the system. Blame the application designer!