I had two experiences today with automated phone systems.
1. The Water Company.
I had received a letter from Missouri-American Water that my Yearly Backflow Test had not been run and this was my SECOND NOTICE and I should feel great shame when calling them immediately. I called immediately.
A machine picked up and said, "Hello, this is Missouri American Water Company. If you have recently received a letter stating you have not submitted the results of your Yearly Backflow Test, be apprised that we have received a high volume of these tests this year, resulting in a backlog, and that your test has probably been received. In that case, please ignore the letter."
Click! I hang up and toss the letter in the trash. Excellent telephony experience.
2. The Insurance Company.
"Welcome to Cigna Healthcare. If you are a patient, say 'patient'."
"I'm sorry, I didn't get that. If you are a patient -"
"Patient!" I said, impatiently.
"Let me try again. If you are -"
"PAY! TIENT!" I spat distinctly and crisply. And I snapped that P. Like a snap pea. Like Leona Helmsley talking to the dog walker.
"If this is for a claim, say -"
"I'm sorry, I -"
I sighed in frustration.
"Let me try - "
"CLAYYYMMMM" I snarled. It got that. It seemed the system reacted well to abuse. Unfortunately, after I snipped and bitched and hissed my way through all the answers, I got to a human.
"Hello, ma'am, I understand you are asking about a claim?"
"YESSSSSS." I said in my new Telephony Tone - like The Tone, only clearer. Can you hear my Tone now?
"Let me call it up on the system. How has your day been so far?"
I considered what my response should be, then said shortly, "FAIR." Then I realized this was a human and he didn't require one word distinctly snapped answers.
If only Cigna could have picked up the phone and an automated voice could have said, "This is Cigna Healthcare. If your name is Ellen, and we recently sent you a claim, just toss that in the trash right now. Bye!"