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[Nettime-nl] Kafkaphone: telephone automation and the decline of the soc
Tjebbe van Tijen via Chello on Fri, 28 Aug 2009 23:44:09 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-nl] Kafkaphone: telephone automation and the decline of the social realm

Het volledige artikel met illustraties is te vinden op De Hinkende Bode/The Limping Messenger

http://limpingmessenger.wordpress.com/2009/08/28/kafkaphone-telephone- automation-and-the-decline-of-the-social-realm/

Kafkaphone: telephone automation and the decline of the social realm
August 28, 2009 by Tjebbe van Tijen |

[diagram of a kafkian system with a Dutch electricity company automated menu information system and the effect it has on the custoimers blood pressure]

A preliminary diagram I made today after spending over one hour on the telephone trying to contact the firm that had place a new gas meter in my house without them checking if it worked properly (and it did not). I do not have the time to make a complete diagram of the multiple-choice menu structure of the telephone system of my energy provider NUON (it must have more than 20 options) and other enterprises which have some relation to my gasmeter. What I have depicted here is just one of many stages of inquiry with four enterprises/institutions that were needed before I had a real person who understood my real problem and managed to arrange the right thing to allow me I to cook again. Several times the end point of yet another telephone answering system 'bifurcation' was another help number, or just a spoken message + the announcement "you will now be disconnected". The blood pressure graph below, is still imaginary, but I could picture a serious research method which would use such an objectified ways to measure the growing anger one experiences while navigating spoken messages larded by muzak style pause music and interwoven with announcements like "just be patient, one moment more..." Who knows there may be some USB connector blood pressure meter on the market that could be connected to my wrist while I am on phone to help creating such a visualization ... Automated telephone menu/choice systems must be one of the most hated renewals of the last decade in the realm of customers or citizens and the way they are forced to communicate with the institutions that claim to exist on their behalf. I have tried to find analytic researches on the subject but failed to do so (I will be grateful for any hint). The variety of reasons one can have to call for a certain inquiry any kind of service or institution is theoretically endless. The repetitive character of certain questions certainly does exist and to a certain extant some preliminary sifting and redirecting of incoming calls is needed and can be beneficial to both customer and provider, but once the number of options channelled into one central telephone number goes beyond a total of 5 or 6 options, there is left only a customer that is subjugated to the economy, arrogance or negligence of information and service providers (the Dutch energy firm NUON has a total of 25 spoken options in 5 sub-layers with general messages in the opening menu and for each of the 5 sub- levels, bringing the total messages to 33; there could be even more layers but researching that, goes beyond my actual research energy potential at this moment).


It is time to get rid of these primitive and de-humanizing communications systems. There is a need for employment of knowledgeable functionaries who can combine the wonders of electronic communication with the pleasure of a human voice and a minimal understanding of a human need at the other end of the line. These reborn telephonist diplomats of the 21. century can be home workers linked by the internet to all necessary information, having smart systems of quick checking with the right persons in charge, having a prompt-collective meeting on a special case, using SKYPe, mobile phones transfer of documents and chat, whatever comes handy. This is in the end a real profitable economic way to engage happy customers and an open democratic way to deal with citizens needs and demands.

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