On Wednesday May 29 I returned to my office from an afternoon workshop and immediately had to dash towards the ringing phone.
“Mary Jane, speaking,” I said. “How can I help you?”
The person at the other end spoke over me, so I didn’t get any of their information.
“Hello,” I said. And again, “Hello.”
The rhythm of the conversation wasn’t right. “Is this a computer?” I asked. (Yes, I do realize that’s a silly question.)
Then a very pleasant and professional male voice said “Oh, do I really sound like that.”
“Yes you do, “ was my reply.
He proceeded to ask me about a mailing his company had sent me recently. I explained that I had been traveling, was a bit behind on looking at mail. He then asked me if I’d used the coupon in the mailing.
Not good. I got a bit annoyed because he wasn’t listening to me. I referred to my previous answer in a clipped tone. He responded by offering to put me through to an account rep in order to use my coupon.
Grrrr – not a good experience. I ended the call as quickly and politely as possible, but it kept playing out in my head and prevented me from focusing on other things. After about 30 minutes, I called the company.
Speaking with a senior sales executive I explained who I was and what I do – and I told her I’d received the worst sales call ever from her company.
She was skeptical and reticent at the beginning of our conversation. There were a few awkward silences between us. But as I continued to describe my encounter with her salesperson and how it was likely impacting her bottom line, she relaxed a bit. “Given what you do,” she said in a somewhat conspiratorial tone, “I’ll share with you that …it was a computer.”
Created by CallAssistant in Utah http://www.callassistants.com/ Echo allows a call representative to work computer technology a bit like a DJ, conversing with customers by choosing pre-recorded, pre-programmed responses that are intended to fit together seamlessly.
The executive I spoke with indicated that while they were still in a trial with the technology, they had experienced a lot of success. A high percentage of customers had accepted the offer to use their coupon immediately. No one, other than me, seemed to notice it was a computer-generated conversation. Also, a very skilled call representative can learn to “work” a different conversation in each ear, she said, obviously providing savings in terms of time and staffing.
Who knew! I didn’t see this coming, that’s for sure.
There is video available of Echo. It is over 7 minutes in length and you likely won’t want to watch the entire marketing message, but if you skip ahead to 3:45 minutes, you may find it interesting. You’ll see a female call representative conducting a customer call … and you’ll hear the male voice she is “using”. Perhaps it’s the same male voice I spoke to on May. http://youtu.be/fXftQoIyIlQ
What are your thoughts?