I'm sure you all know the routine, what starts off as a friendly conversation between you and a robotic voice quickly turns bad as she asks you repeatedly for some information that she seems unable to quite understand. For example, she asks for the patient ID number, and I say a series of numbers: "8357," the robot voice asks: "did you say: "H377?" "No," I say calmly the first time, repeating the patient's ID numbers "I said: 8377" "I'm sorry, she calmly replies, I'm having trouble understanding you, did you say: "8B77?" "NO," I respond, and it goes on several more rounds. When I attempt to escape the voicemail system with a touch on "0", I am firmly told by the robot: " you will be unable to speak to a representative until you have responded to all the questions." My responses now turn to pleas and expletives that only serve to confuse the robot further, causing her to eventually say: "I'm sorry, please call your local Blue Cross representative, good bye."
Angry, helpless, and frustrated... are just a few of the words to describe how I felt when the call was terminated. Afterward, I wondered, how it could be legal for any business to not offer callers an option other than voice responses, in particular, if one is unable to use their voice. Patients and people I have met with speech and voice impairments tell me how difficult, if not impossible, it is for them to call various businesses and respond to automated systems that do not recognize their poor speech or soft voice.
A recent customer service survey indicated that 94% of Americans find it "frustrating to call a company and get a recording instead of a human being." If we consider the fact that 75 million people have a voice disorder, I think it would be fair to say that among that group, 100% hate automated customer service lines.
So, today is another day. I still don't know the patient's eligibility for speech services, and given that today is a full moon, I am not sure if that bodes well for my giving this a second try. But, if you are reading this, and if you have a speech and/or voice problem that makes it difficult for you to use these sorts of automated systems, let your complaints be heard. The following comments refer to technology access by persons with any type of disability. To read more, follow the link below:
- Although many businesses and government entities provide an option for callers to reach a live operator, often none is available. Where no operator is available, most consumers with disabilities are trapped in a process of trial and error and finally just give up.
Unfortunately, where automated response systems have a live operator option, they are only available if the caller is clever enough to get through a nearly impenetrable series of menu selections, rendering this service useless to those who need the operator the most. Indeed, public and private entities' collective goal of reducing caller dependence on costly paid telephone operators conflicts directly with their goal of providing access consistent with the mandate of Section 255.