Back atom.xml blog Your "voice interface" is fucking stupid. 23 Jan 2008 opinion

Recently the bank that financed my car switched their phone payment systems over from their more traditional "press a number to do stuff" to a "talk to a computer and try to do stuff" interface, and my reluctance to pay my car payments has increased tenfold.

Before they switched the phone interface, I almost had the correct sequence of numbers to press entirely memorized to where I could press 3-5 numbers in sequence and be done with my "payment session" in under two minutes. Meaning in a matter of two minutes, I could initiate a transaction from my checking account, to send almost $300 to Chase, in two minutes. I hated losing the money, but I loved the efficiency. Recently however, they've "pulled a Vista" and replaced a wonderfully functional system that "got the job done" with a bloated, slow and buggy system that infuriates me everytime I need to talk to the computerized woman at the other end of the line. A rapid mashing of touch-tone keys on my phone has been replaced with: PaymentBot: Welcome to Chase Auto Finance! *pause* PaymentBot: If you would like to make a payment, say "make a payment." If you would like to check your payoff balance, say "payoff balance." If you would like to blow a goat, say "baaaaaaaa." Tyler-Unit: make a payment PaymentBot: It looks like you want to make a payment, if this is correct say "yes." Tyler-Unit: yes (at this point I'm usually irritated that I've past the two minute mark) PaymentBot: First I need to find your account, please say your account number or your social security number, or enter them into the phone Tyler-Unit: *mashes on keys* PaymentBot: The number you entered was 1-2-3--4-5--5-6-5-4, if this is correct, say "yes." Tyler-Unit: YES PaymentBot: I'm sorry, I didn't catch that, if the number you entered: 1-2-3--4-5--5-6-5-4 is correct, say "yes." Tyler-Unit: YES PaymentBot: Okay, if you would like to make a payment over the phone, say "phone." If you would like to make a payment via mail, say "mail." I could continue, but I won't . Just to get to the point where I finally need to enter my payment details (because Chase couldn't update their system to, god-forbid, remember the same information I've been mashing into a keypad for the past two years) takes close to five to eight minutes. Between the various financial institutions that I need to deal with every month I get to fight with terrible websites, miserable phone interfaces and idiot-customer service representatives, it almost makes me regret being fiscally responsible (our government isn't, why should I have to?). I'm hoping there's a special portion of hell reserved for whichever numbnuts in middle-management at Chase decided "OMG! Voice interfaces are TOTALLY kewl!!!!!" Are there means of consolidating smaller (think below$10,000) loans from one bank to another? While it's pretty obvious that Chase can effectively handle its finances, they certainly can't handle "user-experience", if your customers' only interaction with you as a company is over the phone, or over snail-mail, it's usually in your best interest to make sure those "interfaces" to your customers are top-notch.

I hate voice interfaces.