Top 6 tips to help the hard of hearing tackle Automated Phone Menus
Since the launch of PleasePress1.com in May 2013, I've been inundated with feedback about the difficulties that automated phone menus cause us all. I've heard from people of all ages, from technophobes to tech experts, and the vast majority of us* express a strong dislike for these often over complicated systems.
The great media coverage of the site has catapulted us to many corners of the globe, and I'm thrilled that PleasePress1.com is helping so many people save time, money & frustration. However, I have been particularly pleased to receive great feedback from those who are hard of hearing.
Calling Customer Service departments is frustrating for us all, but I now appreciate that for those with hearing impairments, this can pose an extra challenge. Some of the feedback I have had includes...
"I am quite deaf and use expensive digital hearing aids but I still have problems with phone menus. What those with normal hearing do not realise is that, if you are deaf, it takes time to cue into any instruction. Automated menus are often a problem as you may not be able to hear them or they speak too fast, etc.. Either I get my wife to repeat the call or I repeat it sometimes several times." - Leonard
"I'm 83 and very deaf. I use an AmpliPower 50 telephone, which has a 50Db amplifier. Even with this, I only understand maybe 1 word in 3 of the opening announcements of automated phone menus... The announcement is always rushed through with no thought for anyone with a hearing problem. I do wish they'd slow down." - Ken
"This is amazing what you have done..As a hard of hearing person with 2 hearing aids, I struggle to get through to so many companies on the phone.. This is not a new problem, it's an issue that I find I have on a weekly basis...You have saved me so many hours & potential costs..thank you so much!"- Racheal
Please Press 1 provides a visual map of the phone menu mazes that we all so often get lost in. It enables the hard of hearing user to know what cue is coming up, and to anticipate the next entry required on the keypad. If words are misheard, or are difficult to understand (as these robotic voices often are!), the text reference can be easily read, so as to eliminate any confusion or frustration as the menu options progress.
I believe that many companies could do much more to support their customer base, not least by allowing us to speak to a person on the end of the phone. However, it appears the automated menu is here to stay for the time being, so if you must have menus, here are six suggestions to improve them...
1) Keep them short.
2) Keep the voice the same throughout
3) Speak at a reasonable pace, not too quickly & clearly
4) Allow time for those who may be hard of hearing to respond.
5) Always provide a choice to repeat the menu options.
6) Provide your phone menus to PleasePress1 and publicise the fact and the links on your own 'Contact Us' page. Make life easy for all your customers.
If you, or anyone you know is hard of hearing and would like to discuss your experiences with phone menus, please do get in touch via email. I am also keen to discuss working with the relevant hearing charities and organisations, and welcome any contacts who may be interested in this.
Nigel *Source:Please Press 1 Survey