Technofiles: Misinformation and muppets

I am long overdue a blog here, for which I apologise. Life at HQ has been a bit manic the last few months! This is just a quick one to share an amusing story with you: I bought a new car this weekend, which of course entailed insurance changes and the usual inept staff and poorly designed systems.

In arranging the insurance for the new car, I thought I’d have my partner added to it at the same time. He’s just finished a law qualification at UWE and starts a new job as a Paralegal next week. He was most surprised to find himself promoted from Paralegal to Solicitor in three seconds flat by the Churchill employee before he even starts!

The whole time I was on the phone to Churchill it put me in mind of a fellow blogger’s post on a very similar subject: Please Select From These Options.

After I’d spent a full two minutes listening to a recorded message pushing their other products and services at me, followed by five minutes on hold, going through to the wrong person and another two minutes on hold, the conversation went something like this (CR = Churchill Representative):

CR: And what’s your partner’s occupation?

Me: Paralegal

[lengthy pause]

CR: ... err... is that... P - A - R - E - L...

Me: No, P - A - R - A, then ‘legal’

CR: Oh, that’s what I put in first time. It’s not in the system. Does he have any other title?

Me: No, just ‘Paralegal’

CR: It’s not on here, unless he’s a paramedic?

Me: [stifling a laugh] no, he’s definitely not a paramedic

[partner calls across the room - ‘tell him to try Trainee Solicitor’]

Me: How about ‘Trainee Solicitor’? He’s not, but it’s closer than paramedic

CR: No. I’ve got ‘Solicitor’s Secretary’

Me: [getting exasperated] Oh, just put him down as a solicitor

And just like that, he was promoted! Not sure what the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority would make of the method though...

Similarly, I think I’m down on my own insurance as something to do with IT Administration, which was the closest thing they had to a Website Editor.

Touch wood, we’ll never have to make a claim. But if we do, I sincerely hope that no issues arise from their misinformation - particularly when it’s their own fault for having such narrow and short-sighted systems.

The designer of the system must have known that they’d never get every job title in the UK on there - what was wrong with a free text field? Perhaps one that suggests suitable matches already in the database as the employee is trying to enter the one given. I could build them that based on the tutorials on W3 Schools - it’s hardly rocket surgery.

Overall, it makes for a very poor customer experience, but a good anecdote.

About the author
Azaria came to BCS in mid-2009, joining the Institute as a web editor right in the middle of the exciting transformation period. She originally trained in English and creative writing at university, and is a self-confessed gadgetophile and grammar guru.

See all posts by Azaria Frost
April 2018
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