One of the things I don't enjoy doing is calling a phone number only to find out that I've reached an automated answering system.
Good day. If you know the extension number of the person you are calling, please dial it now. If not, please wait and an operator will assist you.
That isn't too bad. It's simple: just dial in the person's local number and you're connected! Actually, I like this kind of the voice prompt because it doesn't alienate callers so much. People are assured that they'll be talking with a real person in the next step.
Then there's the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure voice prompt:
Good day. To better serve you, please follow the instructions to reach the correct customer care specialist. For new applications, please press '1'. For information about new promos, discounts, and services, please press '2'. For callers using Product X, please press '3'. For callers using Product Y please press '4'... For inquiries about Product A, please press '9'.
Just as you thought that the next option in the long litany of the disembodied Voice will finally lead you to an actual person, the voice says:
To repeat the options, please press '0'.
Arrgh! What a letdown! This must be some cruel joke! No option to talk directly to a person who can transfer your call to a 'specialist'?!?
If that isn't bad enough, how about spending 10 minutes trying to decipher this maze the customer service people have developed to replace whoever is picking up the phone? After pressing one number in the first step, the caller is once again faced with a myriad of numbers to choose from. One mistake and you won't be able to reach the correct 'specialist'... or any real person, for that matter.
I had the misfortune of being a caller to a hotline that uses the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure answering machine. Frustrated with not getting answers after several minutes of listening to the Voice, I gave up. The next day, I visited the company's office. My one-on-one consult with a customer service representative was shorter and was a lot more informative than my phone call (which led me nowhere).
For the sake of being client-friendly, I hope that companies that use these voice prompts in their customer service hotlines keep the user interface simple.