After all these years of space-age electronic wonders and extended service and all that other customer-relations stuff, you’d think someone would have come up with an automated telephone answering system that pleases the caller.Oh, we know the machine pleases the people we’re calling, because if they weren’t pleased, they’d change it, right? Well, maybe in a perfect world, but we know what we’re dealing with here, so that isn’t going to happen, is it? Who knows what the real reason is? Maybe those folks on the other end just don’t know what’s going on because they never have to phone themselves. Maybe they do what all successful executives do and delegate the responsibility — have someone else do it — and that would be some flunky who hasn’t got the guts to mention it needs fixing. Maybe it’s just that the “powers that be” are too far removed in their ivory towers to even realize that life isn’t perfect for all of us, but whatever the reason, the problem needs a little looking into, because I know that there are a few of these systems around that have ticked me off so thoroughly I get angry, and when they really get my goat, they just get crossed off the list of people I do business with. Hey, these days, it’s not that hard to find someone else who can give me what I’m looking for. Gee, I hope they get around to fixing those others, though, and soon, because people shouldn’t be subjected to that kind of aggravation. Only too many times have I called someone, gotten their answering system and had to cope with a very low-volume voice, followed by blaring bad music, a long wait on “hold” and when we finally get down to brass tacks, confusing recorded instructions, mumbled or spoken too fast, with no way to have them repeated. No thanks. Here’s the kind of automated telephone answering system I’d like to encounter, and a few buttons and features that it will include. Start with a recorded message by someone who knows what the heck they’re doing — not from the company’s point of view; from the caller’s. Once we get past that hurdle, have a little sympathy. Give us: • A button to push that will control the volume of the recorded message on the other end. • A button to repeat what I couldn’t hear. • A button to push that will get rid of the distortion in that message. • If you absolutely must put me on hold, include a button to push that will get rid of that rotten music — and another one that will allow me to choose some music I like to listen to, or none at all! After all, if I have to wait, you shouldn’t be torturing me. And one to stop those annoying commercials. • A button to push when they don’t ask the correct question. • A voice recognition button that will let me enter the category I’m looking for by speaking it, instead of trying to negotiate the task of spelling it out on my keypad — with a time limit, no less! • Another to push that will allow me to ask a question — and have it answered. Immediately. • A button to push when I’m fed up with trying to make this weird system work. • A button to push that will connect me immediately with a real, live person. • Another to connect me with a second person who has the power to immediately fire that person who’s been annoying me. • A button to connect me with that person who “monitors this call for quality control purposes,” because I have serious doubts as to whether this monitor person actually exists. • And finally, how about a button to push that will guarantee you will call me back and acknowledge that you got my call and will actually do something about it? That may be the most important button of all. Now that we’ve negotiated the pushbutton minefield, always — ALWAYS — end every call with a real, live human we can talk to. And that’s the key. Humanize it, for Pete’s sake. You’d be surprised — nay, astonished — at what wonders this would do for your company’s image. After all, you’re dealing with humans, and it’s about time you acknowledged that on the way to the bank, since that’s where the money is coming from. And if you ever install an answering system like this, I guarantee it’ll push MY buttons. Thank you. It has been a pleasure to serve you. This message was most definitely NOT monitored for quality control purposes, because I already know about its quality, and I’m not going to waste time and money hiring yet another person to tell me that. Goodbye. Mike Morton writes each Wednesday for the Kansan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mike’s book, “On The Loose Collection, Volume One,” is on sale in Newton at the Kansan, 121 W. Sixth St.; Anderson’s Book and Office Supply, 627 N. Main St.; and Morse Studio, 715 N. Plum St.