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DTMF-Enhanced human interface

Give call takers DTMF (touch-tone) receivers
  [vote for,

As nice as it is to call a business and speak to an actual human being, it is often nuisancesome to have to read numbers aloud to the operator who may not be able to type as fast as I can speak them. What I would like to see would be for the call takers to have a screen that would display the most recent DTMF entries and allow them to be pasted into whatever form they are filling out.

The idea, then, would be that when someone asks for e.g. my account number I could either tell it to the operator or punch it on my phone keypad, whichever was faster for me. The operator would then hit a key to indicate that I had just entered my account number, sparing me the trouble of having to read it over the phone.

To avoid blasting the operators with DTMF tones (which are usually pretty loud), the system could incorporate an auto-mute function to squelch the dialed DTMF digits while allowing normal speech to pass through.

While my main interest with such a system would be to save myself time and aggravation, it would also save companies money by allowing their operators to finish their calls more quickly.

supercat, May 29 2002


       Slightly off topic: I was put on hold by the water company today and was left to enjoy, of all things, the X-Files theme music. Bizarre.
brewmaster, May 30 2002

       Perhaps now would be a good time to invest in some bottled water ...
1percent, May 30 2002

       the bank I deal with will transfer me into an automated system for a minute to enter all my info and then the csr comes back on the line.
rbl, May 30 2002

       // the bank I deal with will transfer me into an automated system for a minute to enter all my info and then the csr comes back on the line.//   

       I have found an annoying number of companies which ask you to enter your account number electronically and then have the CSR's ask for it again when they come on the line. Worse, they give no indication of whether I should rattle it off quickly [since they have it on screen and just want to be sure the call was routed correctly] or slowly [because the copy I entered was forwarded to /dev/null].   

       BTW, why do businesses often insist on having an electronic system read back whatever number you enter v-e-r-y--s-l-o-w-l-y even when using account numbers long enough that they should have check digits?
supercat, May 30 2002

       Argh, you used the acronym five times and never spelled it out. What is DTMF? You don't want to get caught measuring pigeon droppings with a toothpick.
SeattleBrad, May 30 2002

       Dual Tone Multi Frequency - Used, among other things, for transmitting the dialled number to the telephone exchange.
neelandan, May 30 2002

       This sounds eminently bakable.
sadie, May 30 2002

       DTMF is better known by the term "touch-tone". Thanks for pointing out that people might not know what it means; I've updated the idea subtitle appropriately.
supercat, May 30 2002

       Dual tone because, well, because two frequencies are run concurrently to achieve that lovely musicality.
bristolz, May 30 2002

       //I have found an annoying number of companies which ask you to enter your account number electronically and then have the CSR's ask for it again when they come on the line.//   

       My company has a huge callcenter, and here's my guess why they do this: so they can take a small mental break / take a sip of water, since they take about 200 calls a day, strung end-to-end. There's no break between hang-up of the previous call and taking the next one.
hinkle, May 30 2002

       I read somewhere that one of the large credit card companies put in a system that automatically read your number off caller ID, called up your account record, and routed it all to an operator before the phone was even answered. Then to sound really cool, the operator would answer WITH YOUR NAME. "Good evening Mr. Jones, what can I help you with?" They thought this would really impress their customers.   

       Instead they found that it was completely freaking out their customers. "How did you know it was me?!?!" It would take a minute or so to explain it to customers to settle them down, which raised their call times, defeating the entire purpose of the system.   

       So now, they still have the system in place, but the representatives have been taught to go through the motions of asking for your account number, and "pretending" to type it in, even though your record has been on their screen all along. "Let me call that up.....hang on a sec....."   

       So next time you are talking to a customer rep and they ask for your account number, chuckle knowingly as you recite your account number, and sound sarcastic.
krelnik, Oct 14 2002

       I don't mind the notion that I have to somehow tell the system my account number (since I may not be calling from a phone number associated with my account). On the other hand, if I TYPE IN my account number it's annoying to have to give it again.
supercat, Oct 14 2002

       [lovely musicality] Put annoying call centre operatives "on hold" by repeatedly pressing this little ditty:   

       1 2 3 2 1 1
6 6 5 4 5
1 2 3 2 1 1
6 6 4 5 4
shameless_self_reference, Oct 15 2002

       //Our inbound system takes DTMF tones for account number and phone number and populates a toolbar with the customers information.//   

       I have seen many systems which REQUIRE the user to enter information via DTMF. The suggestion would be for a system that allows people to respond to the human operator using either DTMF or voice, whichever happens to be more convenient for the customer at the particular time.
supercat, Oct 14 2003

       It would be good to see voice systems integrate better with other data systems. There's one system I use a few times a year where I have to type in my account number only to speak it to an operator 30 seconds later. [+]
st3f, Jun 06 2006


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