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Touch-Tone Phone Menus: Helping or Hindering Hopeless Humans

By | July 29, 2013 in General IT

Touch-Tone Phone Menus: Helping or Hindering Hopeless Humans

In the modern world, technology operates in a neutral space where it can be used to fulfill a variety of potentialities. This is not something unique to modern technological advancements—people have often commented how the two greatest orators of the 20th century were Adolf Hitler and Martin Luther King. Their talents were equal, what separated them was how they chose to direct and harness these talents.

Well here in the 21st century, technology is king and as much as we mere mortals often find ourselves gazing with awe upon the newest fad—be it a website, a smartphone or a service— that doesn't mean that it is benefiting us in a meaningful way. Obviously the potentiality for technology to be harmful is vast and I do not need to highlight the dangers of war and the deadly role technology can play in that arena. For me, I often find interest in those technologies that were maybe once helpful but due to lack of forward momentum have become a weight around our virtual necks.

A great example of this are touch-tone phone menus. Their ubiquity is only matched by the pained expressions universally displayed by those who have to suffer long minutes waiting to hear which number will generate a real person on the end of line, any person, even the wrong person!

As someone who likes to keep up with the lesser news stories of the day, I was therefore greatly heartened that someone had taken the proverbial digital bull by the horns in a brave effort to save us all a lot of time. A retired IT manager (and fellow Brit) by the name of Nigel Clarke has launched a website listing the call center menu sequences for accessing thousands of services. He discovered that some automated menus have nearly 80 options, which can leave people waiting for up to 6 minutes, even without the customary delay due to lack of available humans!

In a statement that would be a most fitting epitaph for any of us who are fed up of tech being used in the wrong way, he stated, "I'm not against the system, but I am against bad design."

My sentiments exactly, I tip my hat to you sir....

Joshua Phillips

About Joshua Phillips

Josh is an Account Executive at SysAid, which means that he gets to indulge in his love of speaking to as many interesting people around the world as possible. Ever since his parents invested in a 386 PC in the late 80s, Josh has always loved working with new technology. In an unusual twist for someone working at a company that is right on the technological cutting edge, Josh also holds an MA in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies and is quite partial to long hours spent reading in his rocking chair.

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