June Update #2

Technology is a great thing except when used to answer phone calls to businesses and do Senior Management (“C” staff) ever call into their own Customer Service centers?

I doubt it! If they did, they’d learn just how bad “most” are … from the maze of automated call directing (what annoying crap!) to the hold “music” that is interrupted very 40 seconds with apologies and reassurances that they’ll get to you “as soon as possible” because “your call is important to us” … (If it REALLY was, you’d have someone on the phone now). “You wait time is expected to be … three and one-half minutes” – It’s already been nine!

Then, there are the front line representatives who must obtain specific identifying information (which, by the way, seldom gets passed along when your call is escalated requiring you to provide all that identifying information all over again…). Once front line reps are convinced they are unable to assist, they transfer you to another representative. Back to that wonderful hold music…

Second level representative asks. for identification purposes, all the same information. (Must be some law they are NOT going to mess because we live in such a litigious society one slip could bring the house down). And, then you are told there is a specific group within the organization that handles your type of question because it’s related to a speciality service or product. “Please hold while I transfer you to that group.”

“Hi! This is ______, of the speciality group. Before we begin, I have to ask some identifying questions…” (again)

I’m attempting to be as generic as possible because I believe this scenario plays out across businesses that use 1) automated answering equipment, 2) music on hold with interruptions less than one minute apart telling you how much they value your time, 3) call centers (off-shore and/or in the Deep South, using, 4) under-skilled front line representatives (less expensive than the technicians to whom the calls are ultimately escalated).

Today’s call started with an “anticipated hold time of three and one-half minutes”. It lasted ten during which I was told nine times how much they appreciate my business. I was transferred four times before getting to a wonderful, helpful, understanding individual who needed to transfer me one more time to the specific-product/service group…

It’s an hour later. I think I might have completed the business that I called about an hour ago (although I won’t be certain until they phone back and confirm they have all the needed paperwork).

Technology should be able to make this process less annoying (Build it into Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Home Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana!) and “C” staff should call their customer service centers on a regular basis to experience what their customers experience. The world would be a nicer place – IMHO.

June Update #

The Matrix is out of align! I haven’t found any “new” tech worth writing about and THAT’S troublesome.

Hmmm, well, maybe … Apple recently held its annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) whereupon 5600(±) developers descended upon Cupertino, CA to learn about all the new “stuff” Apple is soon to release. I can write about this here because I doubt any of my readers watched the event. My peeps dip a toe in the technological waters and most, infrequently (at first). So, while this is old news to the enthusiast, it’s NEW news to my peeps.

This year Apple presented a few surprises, the highlight of which (IMHO) was “HomePod”: a cylindrical speaker that pushes (reportedly) extraordinary sound into your space. Oh, and it has a built-in “musicologist” to assist you building playlists and providing information about artists, songs, albums, and collections. Oh, this “musicologist” just happens to be Siri, Apple’s voice-assistant a la Amazon Echo and Google Home Assistant. But, it’s a speaker first, musicologist second, and voice-activated computer third.

Interesting concept: rather than go head-to-head with Amazon or Google on the voice-interface of a smart device, go toe-to-toe with Sonos and bring wonderful wireless sound to and throughout your home. Apple wants to automate your home and that’s NOT necessarily a bad thing. HomePod will work with iHome and that’s developing nicely, thank you.

Unfortunately, Apple is late to that game and is playing catch-up HOWEVER, Apple IS Apple and that matters. They CAN COME LATE and still win (again, IMHO) simply because they ARE Apple. We love their devices. We pay their prices. And they know it.

All that being said, it IS a great looking device and reports indicate it sounds great as well! Release is announced as “sometime in December” (Merry Christmas everyone!)

Another interesting introduction was the iMac Pro. Apple finally took a shot at Microsoft’s Surface Studio and it just might get back some who left the fold of cult Mac and jumped to Surface Studio because of its great looks and specs. HOWEVER, the iMac Pro is enough to bring the lost souls back into the fold! Sleek, powerful and aimed squarely at the high-end graphics professional, this iMac hits all the right notes, checks all the right boxes, rings all the right bells … (OK, enough already…)

Finally, an undercurrent of technology that cannot be ignored: AI and machine learning. Apple seems to be doubling-down on AI development and it shows in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. For example, the camera app that, after snapping a photo of a Broadway musical ad in some magazine, will summon the Apple Pay app and ask if you want to purchase tickets and, if you do, for what date(s). Then it will open the calendar app and schedule the event for you. Siri might inquire whether or not you have transportation arranged to attend the event and, if not, ask if you;d like it to arrange some for you.

Extrapolate that interconnectedness … as apps begin to learn your routines and proactively schedule, inquire, and remind, Siri and your device(s) will become increasingly helpful. What a GREAT time to be alive. The technology just keeps getting better and better and more and more helpful!

More on all this later!