Please Hold

“Hello, you’ve reached Technology Associates. We’re currently experiencing higher than normal call volume, but your call will be answered in order by the next available agent.”

George sighed. “Donna, I’m on hold. It’ll be a while, I think.”

“Okay George, you make sure to give them what-for!”

“Oh, these bastards will get a piece of my mind for using some automated voice.”

“Actually, sir, I’m not automated,” the voice over the phone said. “We decided to hold on to our old way of doing things, so I’m a real person answering the phone.”

“Wait, what?” George said.

“I’m actually answering the phone. Most people are just so used to that script, that they don’t like it when they’re greeted by a real person any more.”

“Okay, well, what’s going on?”

“Well sir, we have a lot of people calling in now. At present, it looks like there are two hundred and twenty-three people waiting.”

“Uh huh, and how many people do you have to answer the phone?”

“Sixty-one. So, assuming each call is five minutes, it will probably be about fifteen minutes before this call is answered.”

“Fifteen?” George said. “Don’t you mean twenty?”

“No sir,” said the voice. “Sixty are already being helped right now. So really, it’s probably closer to an average of seventeen minutes, but fifteen is a more round number, and there are always a certain number of hang-ups, which will speed things up.”

“Oh, okay. So…who are you? And don’t you have to answer more calls?”

“I do, when they come in. But there haven’t been any new ones. A bit weird that, but what can you do?”

“Well, why don’t you help resolve some issues then?”

“That’s not my job, I’m not trained for it, sir. There’s myself and three other answerers to respond to calls and direct them to where they need to go.”

“Wait, so you just do the job of a robot, with a robots diction, when you could be speeding up dealing with customer issues?”

“Sort of, yes. I mean, it’s a bit more – ”

“This is preposterous! What kind of stupid company would do that sort of thing! I’m going to cancel my service, please.”

“Sir, I can’t really help with that.”

“Do it now!”

“I’ll transfer you to customer retention, then sir.”

“No, cancel it!”

“…if you wish to speak to technical support, please press one now. If you wish to speak to a customer service representative, please press two. If you wish to alter or cancel your service, please press three.”

George looked at the phone, then pressed three.

“All of our representatives are currently busy helping other customers. Please stay on the line, and your call will be answered by the next available representative.”

George heard Girl From Ipanema on the other end, sounding suspiciously like someone humming. Still, he waited quietly, his anger cooling.

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