Good Morning Mr Hill, how can I help you today!

Hello DaveSo I moved house a few months ago and I’ve been really slow at updating my address details with all those organisations that have wheedled their way into my life – I am suffering from the well known condition called ‘Post Office redirection service’ apathy.

(i.e. once you’ve got a 6 month redirection arrangement in place, you forget about it!)

I finally got around to attempting some address changes…which meant that I had to interact with organisations back in my land of birth (England). I naively thought that this would give me a feel for where ‘state of the art’ customer ‘centricity’ had got to!

So, off I set: I pick my UK pension company as the place to start my address changing chores. I find some paperwork in my filing cabinet and, yippee, it indicates that they’ve got an online presence. A further dig around and my paperwork shows that I registered for their online service a few years back – excellent, this should be easy!

Next, I go to the website. After a few wild guesses at my online sign-in details, I finally crack the code and I’m in!

Yep, there’s the ‘My details’ section and yep, there’s my old address…now to change it….oh, I can’t…eh?…oh, right, go to that tab that says I can and…no, the function is there but it doesn’t appear to be activated for me…apparently I have to ring them!!

So, I ring them.

I get a weird sounding computerised voice straight away:

Computer lady thing: “In a few words, please explain what you would like us to help you with”

Me: I look around the room. I feel somewhat silly holding a conversation with a machine and I wonder how good ‘she’ is at understanding me…so I speak slowly and clearly: “CHANGE  (pause)  ADDRESS”

Computer lady thing: “Can you tell us whether you are an employer, trustee, financial advisor or plan holder?”  

Me: Erm, I’ve got no idea whether ‘she’ understood my answer to the 1st question! She’s moved straight on without comment. I wait for what I think is an appropriate time and provide an answer to the 2nd question: “PLAN (pause) HOLDER”

Computer lady thing: “Can you tell us your plan number”

Me: And so, after what I think is a reasonable pause, I do, with clear enunciation on each letter and number…I’ve still got no idea how well she’s doing at getting what I have said so far – she’s not complained so I assume all is good.

Computer lady thing: “Please tell us your surname”

 Me: I wait, and then say my surname loud and clear

Computer lady thing: “Please tell us your date of birth. Please say it like the following example –  23rd March 1972”

Me: I wait and then provide my date of birth in the format requested.

Computer lady thing: “I’m sorry I didn’t understand that. Please tell us your date of birth”

Me: Aha, I think, that shows that ‘she’ must be getting everything else I’ve said so far! I provide my date of birth again but slower and, hopefully, even clearer!

Computer lady thing: “Thank you. A customer service agent will be with you as soon as they can.”

I then wait, wait, wait…yes! I now get to speak to a human.

 Call handler: “Good Morning Mr Hill, how can I help you today” said in a very smiley (empathetic) way

Me: “Eh? I’m not Mr Hill!”

 Call handler: “Ah, sorry sir, can I take your details”

…and so I am asked for all of my details again by a human with a brain.