Bad Support Bots (was: SORBS on autopilot?)

Michael Thomas mike at
Fri Jan 15 16:57:28 UTC 2010

William Hamilton wrote:
> "Please reply to this message to reopen your ticket and escalate your 
> case to a live human being."
> And now SORBS:
> "If you feel otherwise, please reply to this message
> to re-open your ticket."
> Try as I might I really can't see what is not clear here...

The difference is that nobody wants to "talk" to a robot when they're 
the victim
of a false positive which is causing business impacting interruption. A 
robot is not
empowered to go beyond its instructions, and if it's programmed either 
wrong or with
inadequate nuance, there is no escalation.

Let's not forget that IVR mazes and their modern day counterparts have 
been built in
large part not to resolve problems but to reduce the cost of "support" 
by expensive human
automatons to the point that it's often incidental if they actually 
solve problems. This is not
a well kept secret, and when you're trapped by one especially when it's 
produced a crisis,
its rather disingenuous and maddening for the IVR's keeper to cop attitude.

A much better approach -- assuming that the goal is actually to resolve 
problems rather than
shield resources -- is to at least make the escalation process 
transparent. Knowing what you
have to do in order to get ahold of some of something empowered to 
resolve problems is a
lot better than a robot telling you to take the next turn in a twisty maze.

Mike, this is hardly SORBS specific lest anybody be confused

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