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Suzi Shopper: The Dreaded Auto Attendant Loop

Suzi Shopper: Thoughts on business from a consumer’s perspective

Today, I finally made the call to schedule my physical therapy sessions. I called the number on the order form and got, “This is the test auto attendant…this is the test auto attendant.” Then, after a full minute of silence, the call was disconnected. Well, alrighty then. I looked online for an alternate number – there wasn’t one. I then called the physician’s office that originally referred me to physical therapist and asked them for an alternate number – which they provided. THAT auto attendant asked me to press 1 if I was an existing patient. I was not, so I did not press 1. I was then transferred to—you guessed it—“This is the test auto attendant, this is the test auto attendant.” ARGH!

Thank goodness for the web. I was able to complete an online form to request an appointment – and while I was at it, I provided a comment to alert them to the phone issue. I was pleased when I received a call back within the hour, and the first thing they expressed was gratitude for my note. What I didn’t understand was the comment that came next, which was something to the effect that they didn’t know what outside callers were hearing! (I would think phone systems are the easiest to test. We all have cell phones now, don’t we? Just dial the number and see what happens…test complete.) Regardless, my appointment was scheduled, and I am happy to be getting on with the business of healing my injury.

We all know as consumers how frustrating auto attendants can be. I understand the benefits from a business perspective, but we should consider how our automated systems – whether support portals, customer service lines, or sales inquiries – are received from the customer’s perspective. Test your systems often and solicit feedback from all people who will be using them to ensure they are indeed usable.

How do you ensure the technical systems you have in place are appropriate for and easy to use by your target audience? How do you ensure your systems are working properly? Do you test frequently or wait to receive a complaint? These systems are your face to the world – do they represent your company in the best light?