No more Muzak™ and classic rock?
August 27, 2001 7:39 AM   Subscribe

No more Muzak™ and classic rock? "The [IBM] interns collaborated on something called Hold Freedom, a way to ease the tedium of being on hold while waiting to talk to a human. The program enables callers placed on hold to listen to news, music of their choice, enter a chat group with other customers or even make another phone call without losing their place in the queue. The choices would be based on personal profiles that the customers had previously completed on the call center to phone company's Web site." (Also cool that the idea comes from summer interns.)
posted by tippiedog (9 comments total)
Personally, I'd like for customer service to just answer my damned call, but I guess having a choice of music to listen to is better than having "Rhapsody in Blue" interrupted every 45 seconds with "Your call is important to us, etc."
posted by zedzebedia at 7:50 AM on August 27, 2001

The big problem is the interface. How would you navigate such a system?
To hear political news, press one. To hear entertainment news, press two. To hear health news, press three. To hear odd and funny news, press four. To hear classic rock, press five. To hear reggae, press six. To hear death metal, press seven. To hear acid jazz, press eight. To hear more music options, press nine. To hear more news options press zero. To hear chatroom options press star. To hear this menu again, pre... "Hello, how may we help you?"
posted by daveadams at 7:52 AM on August 27, 2001

The interns collaborated on something called Hold Freedom, a way to ease the tedium of being on hold while waiting to talk to a human.

Finally, someone is tackling the really important problems. God bless these firebrands!
posted by Skot at 8:40 AM on August 27, 2001

Can't they come up with a way to read and contribute to Mefi while on hold?
posted by ParisParamus at 9:15 AM on August 27, 2001

Enter a chat group with other customers!? Most companies would be committing suicide with that move. Many people end up using the telephone because other methods have failed, and they want to kick some ass.

You'd only need one angry caller in a group to tell all the others about how crappy their service is (even if they're lying).. not a good idea!
posted by wackybrit at 10:07 AM on August 27, 2001

Actually, maybe the chat room might not be so bad...someone on hold with you might know how to fix your problem and save you waiting any longer.
posted by briank at 11:21 AM on August 27, 2001

When I worked at Zenith Data Systems help desk we had 45-second nominal hold times. We had a game we called "clearing the queue" where the person who took the last caller (making the wall display go zero) got to take a break. Guess what? All our customers loved us.

Then Packard Bell/Groupe Bull (who already owned us) started shutting the place down. We went in about a month to 45-minute hold times, and guess what? Our customers got abusive. I had to turn over some potty mouths to a supervisor.

WordPerfect, of course, used to have its own "radio" station. I don't know that there is anyplace that goes that far today, though I know of a few outsourced products of that ilk.
posted by dhartung at 11:44 AM on August 27, 2001

Microsoft also used to have it's own "radio station" including a live announcer who would tell individual callers how long their wait queue was..."Brian in Massachusetts, your estimated time for Microsoft Project help is seventeen minutes...." I don't know if they still do it.
posted by briank at 12:38 PM on August 27, 2001

I would plotz if I heard something like that. "Dreama in Pittsburgh, you'll be served in 9 minutes." "Jackass in Redmond, just get some #&@^! help on the phone! And play some Duran Duran while I wait."
posted by Dreama at 3:33 PM on August 27, 2001

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