Why do suppliers rely on voice reponse systems?

Voice response systems often equal bad customer service.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

More often than I would like, I am faced with the need to contact a company to get information or resolve an issue.  On rare occasions, I find that I'm speaking with a well-trained, helpful customer service representative. More likely, I'll face an unresponsive, unhelpful, stupid voice response system. Most of the time, the company I wish to contact offers no simple easy way to speak with a person.

Most of my experiences with these systems are bad ones.  They simply don't understand my midwestern twang and try to lead me to a function I'm not interested i.n at all.  Trying to get something fairly simple accomplished turns into a frustrating, blood pressure elevating experience. I have found that the chat "representative, representative, representative" eventually confuses the voice response system enough that I'm forwarded to a person who can actually help me.  Sometimes, the system will simply ask me to call again and hang up on me. When that happens, I simply purchase the desired product or service from some other supplier.

I've had experiences along these lines with AT&T Wireless, Comcast, Delta Airlines, Northwest Airlines (now part of Delta)  and a few other institutions. The most recent experience was with AMC Entertainment's system.

Other times, I find myself speaking with someone who clearly speaks English as a second or, perhaps, third language. This, of course, makes it very difficult to understand them or be understood by them. In the end, these experiences often are very irritating and diminish my view of these suppliers. Dell and HP are the poster children for these types of issues. More often than not, I end up calling several times, sending several Email messages or using their "chat with an overworked, obviously bored tech" systems.

Some companies, such as Amazon.com, AOL.com and eBay.com make it just about impossible to even find a telephone number at all. I guess they feel that they're doing well enough generally to anger some people.

I've come to the conclusion that cost cutting is more important to these firms than good customer service. I guess that they don't realize or don't care how often irritated or angry people tell others about their bad service experiences.

Have you had similar experiences? What have you done about it when faced with this type of problem?

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