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On Hold – the hated automated service!


Last night Channel 4’s Dispatches showed “Richard Wilson On Hold” (see #onhold at Twitter for comments) for myself it was one of the best and most accurate and even entertaining summary of the dreaded introduction of automated services that while modern companies believe enrich our lives and make our customer service better – Richard Wilson proved the complete reverse, showing beautifully how the modern consumer is fed up with these awful technological abominations!

In the programme Richard Wilson covered everything from automated telephone systems that allow the customer to not only listen to a voice recording but keep us listening interminably and at a call cost running into pounds – how they are not user-friendly and often confuse the elderly and vulnerable or the probably 99.9% of us who are either not so savvy with technology or quite simply don’t know or forget the option choices we are forced to press on our telephone keypads while listening to these awful machines!

He showed beautifully what most of us knew – that when we try to get cinema tickets we now can’t ask for them in person we have to try to talk to a voice recognition programme on an answer service that never works. When parking a car how trying to obtain a ticket via an automatic payment call service not only doesn’t work but is only there to save local Councils money through not having payment staff or wardens to help issuing tickets and checking meters.

And the dreaded service machine that keeps telling you ‘unexpected item in the bagging area‘ keeps telling you to ‘place item in the bagging area – please wait for assistance’! All again to save on cashier staff costs,  and cause the customer aggregation and the risk of early strokes.

As Richard Wilson himself commenting on the programme ” ..automation has become a ubiquitous part of modern life – be it at the supermarket, when booking the cinema or trying to park your car. Retailers and service providers say that these systems offer us more choice, improve service and free-up staff to focus on helping us customers in other ways. But I want to know if this is really the case.”

“Like the rest of the UK, I welcome technology that makes my life easier – I would hate to have to give up shopping online and I love being able to make bank transfers over the phone. But not all automated systems are time-savers. In fact, many of them seem to make my life considerably more difficult, costing me time and money.”

The full programme link can be seen on the right of this page on my Vodpod videos, below is an except from the programme

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