Southwest Florida Yachts


Automated Voice System Hell
by Barb Hanson
June  2008

The mind wanders when it's put on hold.

Who are they transferring me to? Should I have pressed three instead of one? Maybe I should have pressed six and listened to the options again.

Ten minutes and still holding. I'd better put this on speaker. I've got work to do. Too bad this is a government office. If I were calling to buy something, I'd hang up. Maybe I'll hang up anyway.

A sophisticated voice mail system may save money but it turns off customers. It turns off me. I have stopped doing business with more than one company because of the lack of personal customer service. I am not the first or only person to do this.

A real live friendly person answers our phone. That call, you know, could be from a customer.

I know that's not the modern way. If you call the customer service desk the modern way is a friendly but automated woman's voice Ė My, I have learned to hate that voice Ė asking if 239-656-1339 is the number I'm calling about. YES. YES. YES. I'm sorry, the voice replies, "I couldn't quite make that out."


Recently, while on hold, I started wondering what a voice mail system would sound like if we got one of those fancy answering systems for our offices.

Here's the first draft.

Press 1 if you want to charter a boat.

Press 2 if you want to take a sailing or power boating class.

Press 3 if you want to buy a sail or a power yacht.

Press 4 to confirm a reservation you have already made, but not to change the reservation or cancel it.

Press 5 if you want to change or cancel a reservation.

Press 6 if you want directions.

Press 7 if you want to know what to bring on the boat. Yes, you can bring your dog.

Press 8 if you want to learn about the cruising area. It's beautiful!

Press 9 if you want to sign up a child for our summer day camp.

Press 10 if you have a compliment for us.

Press 11 if you have a complaint.  You will then be put on hold until you get tired and hang up.

Press 12 if you are a solicitor.  You will then be put on hold until you get tired and hang up.

Press 13 if want to check on the weather. Itís beautiful. Itís always beautiful..

Press 14 if you just want to talk about boats because itís cold up north and you have nothing else to do.

Press 15 if you are looking for a part for your boat that has been sitting in your backyard for 10 years.  We donít stock parts. No, we don't have that part. Yes, I'm sure.

Press 16 if your father who was the former President of Nigeria has died and you have 10 million dollars you want to deposit in our account.  Wait times now exceed two hours.

Press 17 if you want to talk to the owner and you want to sell them interest in oil wells in Oklahoma.

Press 18 if you want to hear this menu of options again.

For all other calls, please press zero. Iím sorry, all lines are busy now. Your business is very important to us. Good-bye.

Is this working?  Never mind. I know the answer.

We're going to keep the personal phone answering system we've had for 25 years, thank you. When you call any day of the week, from 0800 to 1700 hours, a real live person will answer. I know this is not the modern way of doing business, but my gut tells me it's better business.

Click here to visit out Sailing School website!

Southwest Florida Yachts
3444 Marinatown Lane N.W. • North Fort Myers • Florida 33903
(239) 656-1339 (800) 262-7939 Fax (239) 656-2628

Marinatown Marina 26° 38.5'N 81° 53.0'W
Burnt Store Marina 26° 45.71' N 82° 04.20'W

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