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24 July 2007

Call centre clear thinking

I got called by Dell today. Several times I had to correct the person on how to pronounce my name. Cockburn is a 700+ year old Scottish name that is pronounced Coburn. It is even advertised on national TV, Cockburn's special reserve is the UK's best selling Port (Fortified wine) and every advert details how to pronounce the name.

Yet I get countless contact centres who ask me for my name, I pronounce it correctly and then they pronounce it the way it is written in front of them, seemingly deaf to the fact that the owner of the name has just told them how to pronounce it. Some even say "well it must be spelled incorrectly here, I'll just change it for you", not realising that doing so would then mislabel my addressed mail.

Goodness knows what difficulties they have with pronunciation with some of the more difficult names from Eastern Europe, Africa, Arab speaking countries and so on. How embarrassing it must be for those customers and how needlessly difficult for contact centre operators.

How much simpler life would be if the customer record had a separate field where the phonetic spelling of the customer's name could be written in.

At last, no more mispronunciations. It also has the other advantage that if the company ever starts using voice recognition then the phonetic encoding of the field is likely to be more accurate than the original.

Why does no one do this? Sounds like a good idea to me.

Craig
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