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Where's the Human Connection?

I had a delightful, fifteen-minute telephone conversation last Tuesday. Actually I shouldn't call it a conversation. It was more ... well, I'll just tell you about it.

I called a company I do business with. A pleasant female voice said, "Hello, thank you for calling Joy, Inc. If you're on a touch-tone phone, select your choice at any time. If you're calling to check on your credit account, press 1 now. If you have questions about ordering procedures, press 2. If you would like a review of new products, press 3. If you would like to speak to a particular person and you know the extension, key that in now. If you ..."

Well, I was in luck because I knew Joe's number, so I keyed 357 knowing I would soon be chatting away with my rep.

Sure enough, after three or four rings, there was Joe's familiar voice. "Hi, this is Joe. I'm away from my desk right now. But if you'd like to leave a message, you can do so at the tone. If you prefer to wait, my secretary will assist you as soon as possible."

I wasn't particularly pressed for time, so I decided to wait. The tone beeped pleasantly, and since I didn't say anything (I guess) I heard the voice of a pleasant woman: "I'm sorry we can't get to your call immediately, but if you'll hold, your call will be serviced by the first available person. In the meantime, Joy Inc. would like for you to sit back, turn on your speaker phone, and relax to music of your choice. If you prefer classical orchestral music featuring the London philharmonic playing Dvorak, press 1. If you're in the mood for Christian vocalists, enjoy Dawn Rike's new album by pressing 2. If you'd ..."

After several minutes of soothing sounds, Joe's voice surprised me. "This is Joe. Apparently your call hasn't been processed yet. If you'd like to leave a message, you can do so now."

"Joe, this is Louis. I wanted to know about the payment date we discussed a few weeks ago. Please give me a call at home."

Before I could hang up, Joe's voice returned. You can imagine my delight.

"This is Joe. Thanks for calling ... Louis ... I value your business, and you can be assured I'll get back to you soon. It has been a pleasure to bring you Joy."

All in all, the experience could have been worse. Nobody was rude or brusque. All my desires were considered. The music was pleasant. I've done a lot worse with real people.

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