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Thread: I Hate Voice-Recognition Telephone Menus

  1. #1
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    Thumbs down I Hate Voice-Recognition Telephone Menus

    Last night I came home to a brownout. The lights were dim, some fluorescent lights were blinking spasmodically, and motors would not run. My AC voltmeter showed about 70 volts at the wall outlets. I called the power company to report it and got an automated system that asked me to describe the trouble the best I could in a few words. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts it finally switched me to the touchtone multiple-choice interface I wished it had started with instead of wasting time with the voice recognition. Once I got into that, the power company fixed the problem within a few minutes, probably by resetting a breaker at a nearby transformer substation.

    Let me add that the local cable TV company abandoned a similar voice recognition system after a year or so. I had found it similarly aggravating.

  2. #2
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    For some reason, I'm reminded of this Dilbert.
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  3. #3
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    Unhappy

    If it's any consolation, I work with voice rec 8 hours a day. Used to manually transcribe (every character) doctors' dictations. Now it's voice rec doing the typing; we get the report "completed" -- but it needs LOTS of editing. Blah! And it pays less. >:-(

  4. #4
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    "I'm sorry, I didn't understand that."

    My evolved response to this abomination is to make nonsense sounds until I get transferred to a real voice-recognition system: a human being.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike alexander View Post
    "I'm sorry, I didn't understand that."

    My evolved response to this abomination is to make nonsense sounds until I get transferred to a real voice-recognition system: a human being.
    Around here the rumour is that if you use "bad language" you get to the human faster. (Perhaps based on the idea (myth?) that the system recognises frustration in the caller?)
    Measure once, cut twice. Practice makes perfect.

  6. #6
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    I usually just press zero. Often gets you right to a human.

    Sometimes it's fun, though, saying something silly to an automated option like "orange sherbet." You know, in the hopes somehow it'll go haywire and explode.

    I'm sorry, I didn't understand that selection. Let's try this again...

  7. #7
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    Or, "Your grandfather blew triodes."

  8. #8
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    My health insurance uses that. Not only to get directed to the right people, but to ask all the questions to verify who you are.
    I can't remember what it asks, but it's things like name, address, phone, birthdate, etc.

    Q: Year of birth?
    A: <slowly> 1962
    Q: Did you say 1952?
    A: No
    Q: Year of birth?
    A: <as clearly and succinctly as I possibly could> 1962
    Q: Did you say 1909
    A: <Slam, redial, and immediately look for any human interface>

    I can understand misunderstanding "sixty two" with "fifty two", but "oh nine"?

  9. #9
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    They're particularly a lot of fun when you're in a cube farm.
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  10. #10
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    I just say not so nice things about its mother. Then i let the person stuck answering politely transfer me.

    The worst is when(which is every time) you type in a 16 digit account number only to have someone make you repeat it two seconds later.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShinAce View Post
    The worst is when(which is every time) you type in a 16 digit account number only to have someone make you repeat it two seconds later.
    Of course they do. Do you think they trust the system any more than you do?

  12. #12
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    I had a bad experience once needing some flight rescheduling information while changing planes in LAX. There was apparently no part of the terminal where I could complete saying the numbers without an announcement breaking it up, and that line didn't have an obvious way to break out to the "type in the numbers" option.

  13. #13
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    I had to read a number into one of those systems. I took care to pause a second between each digit, and I also took care to say "niner" for 9 like the bigshots do.

    It said I had given too many digits, and repeated the number. It had recorded "90" for "niner."

    How can the stupid thing drop syllables all the time them work overtime to pick up an extra one that's not supposed to count?

  14. #14
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    After I finally make it through the voice recognition system that can't understand what I say, I get the help line guy that I can't understand. Sometimes I wonder if companies make it difficult on purpose to weed out angry callers who don't have the patience to persist.

    I'm sure all that will be replaced soon by texting with no voice communication whatsoever. That's where the world seems to be heading.

    Does anyone know of any companies, medical clinics, etc., where receptionists have already been replaced by kiosks?
    "There are powers in this universe beyond anything you know. There is much you have to learn. Go to your homes. Go and give thought to the mysteries of the universe. I will leave you now, in peace." --Galaxy Being

  15. #15
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    My cable company uses one of these systems. I recently called them because I was having internet connectivity issues, and it worked fairly well because it could actually poll my cable modem for status.

    However, it was much too cordial, saying things like "Let me check your account" <slight pause> "Okay, I've got it."
    It was right smack in the middle of an audio version of the uncanny valley, and I found it extremely unsettling.
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  16. #16
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    Perhaps oddly -- I have no speech impediments, and I speak the Hartford, Connecticut version of US English, which was, for many years, the model of the "accentless" English (I've got an accent; it's just that everybody who lived around me had the same one ) preferred for radio announcers (the USian version of Received Pronunciation?) -- over half of the voice recognition systems get confused with my speech, especially the one my cell service provider uses for its information service: I've never gotten a number without it bouncing me to a human.

    Voice recognition has gotten much better over the past few years. I just find the voice recognition phone menus add another layer of crappy customer service to the typically crappy service provided by large companies to small customers.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    I've never gotten a number without it bouncing me to a human.
    Many people would see that as an advantage!

    I've kind of gotten used to the voice systems now. And for those who find it too uncanny valley, you'll want to avoid getting a new i-Phone!
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  18. #18
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    This may help:
    http://dialahuman.com/

  19. #19
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    The Department of Motor Vehicles in my home area is particularly bad with this. Scheduling a time for my driver's test was heck. (I failed it anyway, but that's neither here nor there...) My mom found that shouting "I WANT TO SPEAK TO A REAL PERSON!" helped her get through quicker.
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  20. #20
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    I had one last week that gave me a list of choices, 1 through 5, and asked me to say the number of my choice.

    "Two."

    "I'm sorry, I didn't understand that. Please say it again."

    "To."

    "I'm sorry, I didn't understand that. Please say it again."

    "Too."

    "I'm sorry, I didn't understand that. Please say it again."
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  21. #21
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    I remember the one from BEYOND 2000:

    "Recognize Speech"
    "Wreck a nice beach"

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim View Post
    I had one last week that gave me a list of choices, 1 through 5, and asked me to say the number of my choice.

    "Two."

    "I'm sorry, I didn't understand that. Please say it again."

    "To."

    "I'm sorry, I didn't understand that. Please say it again."

    "Too."

    "I'm sorry, I didn't understand that. Please say it again."
    Dos?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin Dax View Post
    Dos?
    No, it was probably some Unix code.

  24. #24
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    I realized that this is an extension of misheard lyrics, but it's the radio doing the mishearing.

    gopher tuna

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonM435 View Post
    No, it was probably some Unix code.
    Dos as in Spanish for "two", not the operating system.

    I wouldn't mind the voice menus if they let you use touch tones as well. Then you can choose either or. Voice recognition is slow, unreliable, and inefficient. I can punch the keypad a lot quicker and fewer errors result.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornblower View Post
    I called the power company to report it and got an automated system that asked me to describe the trouble the best I could in a few words.
    Did you try the phrase, "...sparks all over the place!" ?

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by DoggerDan View Post
    Did you try the phrase, "...sparks all over the place!" ?
    "I'm sorry, I didn't get that. Let's try again. Please say your sixteen digit account number."
    I may have many faults, but being wrong ain't one of them. - Jimmy Hoffa

  28. #28
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    I'm not too fond of the voice-recognition telephone experience, either.

    Something that usually works for me, is to answer every question with "Hue-Mon".
    Ya know, like how the Ferengi butcher the word "Human" whenever they say it.
    Eventually, they'll connect me with a Human.
    Shadilay

  29. #29
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    It appears that the consensus is that for most of us in ordinary customer service applications, this voice recognition system is a lousy substitute for pushbuttons. It might be preferable for a few customers who are manually impaired but can speak clearly.

  30. #30
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    Well, apparently there is an upside to poor voice recognition software. While bicycling today, I spotted something along the side of he road. It turns out it was a smart phone, so I stuffed it in my pocket and continued with my ride.

    When I got home, I tossed it to my daughter and asked her to figure out what it was. She determined that it was an iPhone, but was locked. The options for a locked iPhone are "unlock" and call 911 (police emergency number). We tried a few unlock codes, but failed, and the thing disabled attempts for 15 minutes.

    Checking with Google, we discovered that some voice command features are still available when the phone is locked. We tried to tell the phone to call some common items (mom, dad, wife, ice*, etc). None worked, but "home" was recognized as "Maya". So we called her, and she contacted the owner. He called after a little while, and said he'll pick-up his phone later this evening.

    The phone was in a case that got beat-up pretty bad, but the phone itself is in good shape.
    I don't know if there actually is a "home" entry in the phone, and probably never will.

    *"in case of emergency"
    Last edited by Extravoice; 2012-Jun-25 at 12:21 AM. Reason: formatting
    I may have many faults, but being wrong ain't one of them. - Jimmy Hoffa

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