IVR, interactive voice response, is the first stage of today's call management system. You have to do the IVR before you get to a human being. You know, the 'Press one for a tape of how much we love you, press two for a tape of how much we value you," and all that stuff.
How much IVR you have to do depends on many things. I have a personal theory, that IVRs are like cats - they know people who hate them and so jump on their laps and knead their tummies with their claws.
You might find some of the phrases used hard to understand, so I have compiled the following guide to some oft-used IVR system and call centre phrases. I do hope you find them useful.
"Your call is important to us"
We couldn't give a tinker's cuss about your call. You're a statistic and, frankly, until you're resolved you're an inconvenience to us. Resolve quickly and we look good. Stay on hold and you'll lengthen the stats to resolution. Now we're going to play you Celine Dion music so you get out of our system fast and go back under whatever little rock you came out from.
"We are busy helping other customers..."
The two operators who are on duty are actually talking about who was the best Bond right now so they're letting the IVR and hold sytems take the flack. Najla thinks it was Sean Connery but Ahmad thinks it is Daniel Craig. Personally I'd go with Connery but Craig's an interesting contender, although I'm not supposed to know what they're talking about. Incidentally, Najla and Ahmad are getting on really well and have applied for night duty because then they can be truly alone and, well, who knows what might happen while you're being put on hold then. By the way, the 'busy helping others' line is meant to make you feel guilty about having your own needs so that you're happier to put other people first. That's OK, isn't it?
"Is there anything else I can do to help you?"
I've failed to do anything for you, really. I can't access the screen I need to because the system's down, but I'm trained to end all calls this way and I do so slavishly just so that it ends our call together by putting some marzipan pink pixies on the icing of the cake of your impotent rage and frustration.
"This is Adix"
We've got an old voice mail system which nobody's ever even tried to customise.
"This call may be recorded and used for training purposes"
If you honestly think we're going to expose new staff to the kind of abuse, irritation and bellowing rage that our customers constantly are driven to by our incompetence, then you've got another thing coming. Cripes, we'd never get the call centre staffed if they actually knew what a bitch-slapping they'll be getting once they've been through training. Imagine! We'd have to outsource to India or something. Sheesh! Training purposes my ass!
"Due to an unprecendented level of calls there may be a short delay answering your call"
Weeeel that's not strictly true. Because we understaff the centre (those seats cost money, bub) and depend on the IVR to take on 80% of the numbnuts incoming, we're going to leave you in the-mobile's-burning-my-ear limbo for about 45 minutes. The really, really cool part is what you don't know yet: at the end of the wait we're going to play you an engaged tone then drop the line. Because we've got calling line identification we'll know to route your next call down to dumb Zaki, the new kid with spots and the speech impediment who we're trying to get sacked because he tried it on with Amna from loans.
"The person at extension f.o.u.r zero eight is not available. Please leave a message"
Honestly, we don't like to make too much fuss about this, but 408 is actually a phone in the canteen which we took the ringer out of. We took the speaker out of it, too, so nobody ever listens to the messages, we just clear the voice mail system every time the red light comes on.
"The voice mailbox for extension f.o.u.r zero eight is full. Please call later"
We forgot to clear that red light last time we went for a smoke.