May 21, 2007
The gethuman standard
There are amazing things happening in the world of communications, which is one reason I haven't had as much time to devote to my blog as I'd like. Technology is speeding ahead, sometimes to our frustration, but at the same time I can see the cost of communications continuing to drop and the ease and convenience continuing to improve. Not all of these advances involve technology though. One initiative is something called the gethuman standard.
The gethuman standard started with a guy named Paul English who was frustrated and feeling like he was often trapped by automated telephone systems. I've been in the business of building those systems for 16 years, and believe me I know they can be frustrating. I also believe though that with good design they can be great. What started as one guy trying to make a difference has turned into a much larger effort by individuals and corporations who have a simple belief - if you show to customers that you appreciate their business and you make it easy for them to reach you, they'll buy more stuff. (Those are my words by the way.)
I've been given permission to reproduce the standard here, but if you want to find out more just go to gethuman.com. I don't know of any system that completely implements the standard, but it's something to strive for. I doubt if any consumer would argue with any of the points in the standard. Here it is - feel free to comment. --terry
The gethuman standards have been designed with simplicity and directness as to eliminate ambiguity and enable testing and certification. There may be more than one way to accomplish each, but the result must be as follows:
- The caller must always be able to dial 0 or to say "operator" to queue for a human.
- An accurate estimated wait-time, based on call traffic statistics at the time of the call, should always be given when the caller arrives in the queue. A revised update should be provided periodically during hold time.
- Callers should never be asked to repeat any information (name, full account number, description of issue, etc.) provided to a human or an automated system during a call.
- When a human is not available, callers should be offered the option to be called back. If 24 hour service is not available, the caller should be able to leave a message, including a request for a call back the following business day. Gold Standard: Call back the caller at a time that they have specified.
- Speech applications should provide touch-tone (DTMF) fall-back.
- Callers should not be forced to listen to long/verbose prompts.
- Callers should be able to interrupt prompts (via dial-through for DTMF applications and/or via barge-in for speech applications) whenever doing so will enable the user to complete his task more efficiently.
- Do not disconnect for user errors, including when there are no perceived key presses (as the caller might be on a rotary phone); instead queue for a human operator and/or offer the choice for call-back.
- Default language should be based on consumer demographics for each organization. Primary language should be assumed with the option for the caller to change language. (i.e. English should generally be assumed for the US, with a specified key for Spanish.) Gold Standard: Remember the caller's language preference for future calls. Gold Standard: Organizations should ideally support separate toll-free numbers for each individual language.
- All operators/representatives of the organization should be able to communicate clearly with the caller (i.e. accents should not hinder communication; representatives should have excellent diction and enunciation.)
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This 'service' has been going 4 awhile (as wiki page, web page etc.)
also another one has sprung up = http://www.nophonetrees.com
Posted by: Brendan Lally | May 21, 2007 5:07:04 PM