“Please listen to these choices carefully, as our menu has recently changed”

Dear voice tree programmers: Stop this. Just stop it now.

  1. No one memorizes the numbers. When someone calls, they listen to the choices, they pick the one and proceed. No one dials the main number, then quickly starts punching in “3-7-*”.
  2. Even if that’s wrong and people do memorize the sequence, it’s not a big deal. The cost of making a mistake is simply trying again. Or hitting zero.
  3. The cost of this message on the other hand is a few seconds multiplied times a number with lots of zeros. Every single person, every single call, every single time.
  4. Your menu hasn’t recently changed. It changed a long time ago. I don’t know your business, but I know this. You made the changes and it was a big deal for you, but no one else noticed or cares. And they shouldn’t. Well designed products don’t need to be explained.

Would you like to do something productive? Figure out a way for me to reach a human being more effectively. You can usually say, “Human. Representative. Operator. Help,” hit zero a few times, and one of those will trigger the system to find a human.

Some places with complicated backends try harder. They ask you to explain what you need so they can get you to the right department. That seems like a good thing, right? Except for that it demands more voice recognition and matching to pre-set phrases. If your need was standard though, you wouldn’t have tried to get a human. It is easy to get caught in loops where it doesn’t know what you want and keeps returning you to the top of the tree to try again. Cut it out. If I need a human, select a default choice that the system will point to if it can’t figure out what I want.

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