I just had the warmest interaction ever with an automated voice over the telephone. Domino’s has perfected the art of – I don’t even know what to call it – robots? The machine that took my order had an upbeat & cheerful male voice. Maybe you’ve heard it yourself? When I spoke my four-digit coupon code, he-it said, “Okay. Got it!” and read back the details of the coupon to me. He sounded exactly like the perfect employee except he didn’t need time to think. He just rattled off his end of the conversation with speedy precision, courtesy and the proper amount of casualness so as not to sound like an android. Even though, technically, he is an android – if “phone appearance” counts, and in my book it does. I was 80% astonished and 20% mortified. Torn between thinking: “What a nice guy,” and “Wow, this is a machine making me feel like I’m talking to a nice guy.”
When I set out to call, I’d been looking forward to talking to someone in India. For a while there (yes, we phone for pizza that often), the automated dude would start taking the order and then someone far away would take over. As a rule, I like to show extra kindness when I speak to the folks overseas. It’s challenging at times, because when AT&T’s billing department F$#@s up in a hugely big-giant-venti way, communicating is challenging enough without coping with a language barrier. But that’s no reason for me to take out my frustration on the human being on the line. Okay, there was one time a couple years ago that I totally flipped out. Lost. Control. But even then, I made a point of telling the person, “You don’t need to apologize, I know it’s not you, I know you’re following a script, but . . .”
There seems to be a consensus among the people in my general circles to that it’s okay to roll one’s eyes and complain about dialing a customer service line and getting someone from another country. I need to be more vocal in expressing compassion for the people who receive our calls.
Recently, Harry Shearer mentioned on his weekend morning radio show that there’s an epidemic of health problems stemming from the stress the call center employees experience. I had no idea. Turns out, the rudeness and impatience of Americans & Europeans is causing individuals across the globe depression, insomnia, anxiety & Basic Job Dread. If you’ve ever had Basic Job Dread, you wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Maybe your worst enemy, but no one else. The idea of my fellow countrymen giving complete strangers ulcers brings me disdain.
So with that in mind, I was ready to greet the voice of the human in Bangladore with sensitivity and encouragement. Instead, I got Domidron The Expert who flawlessly took my order and sort of brightened my night with his undeniable vim & vigor. This machine will surely be promoted from taking food orders and have jobs like mine in a matter of years. I wonder what he really looks like? Any old harddrive?