IVR Cheat Sheets, And Dirty Tricks?

The IVR debate rumbles on. Could automated voice phone systems be better than just having a human answering the phone? Is it better to cheat the system? Paul English’s cheat sheet has appeared more than 100 TV and radio stations in a month. One company, Angel.com, has been fighting back, first with a pretty harsh broadside, but now appears to have replaced it (the page redirects) with a more measured ‘IVR Cheat Sheet for Businesses’, figuring, I guess, that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Anyway, I got an interesting take on it this morning as a comment appended to my blog from someone who identified herself as Kate, with a believable-looking email address. ‘She’ wrote:

Paul English makes some great points. I saw his piece on ABC World News Tonight and he’s bringing to light that most companies operating in the IVR space have shoddy systems. In my opinion, Angel.com is one of the few companies in the IVR industry trying to change things, however, with web-based next generation systems that link to CRM systems. Small businesses are finally able to create IVR systems (using a self service model if they wish) that are even more sophisticated than what large industry is using. My Dad uses the system for his online ebay store selling vintage posters and autographed baseballs. He’s able to provide far better customer service using Angel.com’s system than he would ever be able to provide on his own. The boon to small business of using these inexpensive, next generation IVR systems is getting lost in the debate.

That’s one well-written comment. I was impressed (as I imagine, would be Angel.com. Not only can they be linked with the little guy (and who wants to bash the little guy?) but they get to bash some of their competitors too). But not being cynical about the posting, I allowed it through and emailed ‘Kate’ with a request to interview her father. If true, it’s a valid point and one to explore.

What I didn’t expect was for the email to bounce. Not that unusual, especially with comment spam, but not when the given name (‘Kate’) jibes with the email address (‘katerobins@yahoo.com’). Why go to the trouble of putting a believable fake email address, especially when you presumably would be quite happy if someone followed up and got a bit of publicity for your eBay-selling dad? Baffled, I checked the IP address where the comment came from: a Verizon address in Washington DC. Not, coincidentally, that far from Angel.com HQ in McLean, Virginia.

I wish I could say my sleuthing took me further. But I could find no Kate Robins in the phone book, no sign of someone with that Yahoo address on Google, or anyone on eBay who might be her dad (not that surprising; it’s a big place). I’ll keep looking, but if anyone knows Kate Robins, her dad, or could shed any light on this, I’d love to hear from them. I’d hate to think that my blog is being used by anonymous shills to do damage limitation exercises for the IVR/CRM industry. On the other hand, if Kate does exist and just mistyped her email address, I’d love to follow up the angle she suggests.

03. December 2005 by jeremy
Categories: E-commerce, Internet life, Phones | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 comments

Comments (4)

  1. Pingback: Strategize

  2. Seems that “Kate” left the same comment for me on my post about Paul English. Check it out:

    http://strategize.blogspot.com/2005/12/whos-leaving-comments-about-paul.html

  3. I wouldn’t put too much faith into Mr. Fromm’s comments, either. I discovered that a) he’s affiliated with the IVR industry (and refuses to admit it when I asked him in my own blog comments) and b) he’s dumping the same repetitive comments to any blog he can find which mentions Paul English’s IVR Cheat Sheet.

    I did a little detective work on my own and published the results here:

    http://slotter.net/blogs/index.php/dave/2005/12/28/max_fromm_connected_to_angel_com_microst

    -Dave

  4. Clearly this issue still exists in all industries and 2009. Advertising and self promotion functions like a nuclear strike on every mass media delivery system.

    People no longer read emails, if you are lucky they
    “scan” them for useful content quite often missing useful information in favor of getting through all the junk that got through their junk mail filter, as quickly
    as possible.

    Myspace was destroyed quickly by bogus friend requests.

    Facebook is a tougher nut to crack, but still getting
    very cluttered with these non-sense games and ads.

    My question is, how to address the Kates of the world?

    – Chuck
    http://www.charleskingconsulting.com