Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Please Help Me to Help You.

Possibly, at some time in your life, you've found it necessary to call customer service at a large company like...oh, say...Hertz Rent a Car; as I just did. Possibly, you've answered a long series of prompts to attempt to direct your call toward the proper department and a human being; as I just did.

And then, it's extremely likely that you heard a recording say something along the lines of "Due to a high volume of calls at the moment, your wait time is estimated to be...18 minutes. Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line for service, or try calling again when our lines might be less busy. Thank you", ...deep breath...as I just did.

There's an invention, just begging to be invented here...and that's where you come in. See, I'm full of ideas; just without any way to implement them. Some of you are total software and hardware geeks and there's an invention just begging to be invented. I call it the Hold For Me Personal Assistant™. Here's how it works. Well here's how it'll work when one of you actually builds it and enters into an agreement by which you will get 35% of profits for your contribution (the work), and I will get 65% of the profits for my contribution (the ever-important idea). We'll hash out the details later.

Anyway, as soon as you know that you're going to have to hold for a long time, you place your phone into the Hold For Me Personal Assistant's™ universal receptacle. It then listens for the sound of a human voice. (If your software is really good, it won't be fooled by repeated recordings imploring you to "continue holding" because "your call is very important to us". Just sayin'.)

Eventually a human comes on the line. The Hold For Me Personal Assistant™ leaps into action. In response to hearing a human voice, your Hold For Me Personal Assistant™ says, "My call is very important to me too, but so is my tuna sandwich. If you can wait for me to finish my tuna sandwich, press 1. If you must render customer service immediately and cannot hold while I finish my tuna sandwich, press 2. If you would like to go get your own tuna sandwich while I finish mine, press 3. If you would just prefer a nice Coke Zero, press 4. Regardless of your choice, please continue to hold as my call is very important to me. You may press * at any time to hear my callback number so that you can call me back when both of us might be available. Thank You."

I think this will be a wonderful time-saving device and that we'll sell millions of them. So help me to help you. Get on out to the lab and start tinkering. Shoot me an email as soon as you've got a prototype ready. We'll check it out over tuna sandwiches.

(The above is a parody. No actual Hertz Customer Service personnel were hectored and no tuna sandwiches were consumed due to the fact that the proprietors of Polybloggimous detest tuna.)


Random Michelle K said...

I thought that device was called "speakerphone"?

Nathan said...

You're obviously not an ideas person. Luddite.

Shawn Powers said...

I can think of (2) Polybloggimous residents that in fact love tuna. I know this strictly by their species, and you can't convince me otherwise. :)

Nathan said...

Resident ≠ Proprietor

Nathan said...

Hey, that was Math-y. (mathish?)

Shawn Powers said...

So you're gonna play a "who owns who" game when cats are involved?

Good luck with that. ;)

Nathan said...

No Shawn,

I'm just saying they don't know how to work the can opener. Pay attention.

Shawn Powers said...

Look, we are here to serve our feline overlords. Products like this prove it: No can opener required

Anonymous said...

The irony of this is that I am actually implementing this right now in our call center, minus the tuna sandwich. ;)

Nathan said...


Are you actually programming a hold machine to talk to a hold machine?

Anonymous said...

Pretty much, yeah.

It's automated callback messaging for the call center. So if the wait is too long, you give the system your number and it calls you back when your hold time would have been up. Then, it requires an active button push to connect the call to a customer service agent - or leaves an automated message on the machine saying "we tried to reach you but you were off making a tuna sandwich, hoser."

Janiece will look at this and laugh - it's ten years behind the times, not rocket science as such things go. But our folks are excited to finally have the capability.