Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Cheerful chatbots don’t necessarily improve customer service (gatech.edu)
130 points by giuliomagnifico 11 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 200 comments

It's become a huge selling point for me that I can walk into a store and talk to a human about a problem I am having with a product. Lately, this has meant that the Walmart online store gets more of my business than Amazon for items that aren't available at brick-and-mortar stores in my area. Because Walmart will take back items bought at the store and resolve problems right then and there.

Amazon has started selling items that aren't returnable and I wish I could opt out of it. I got a laptop/phone bracket that was made with some crappy, brittle plastic, but Amazon didn't accept returns on that item. If Walmart sold ebooks, I don't think I'd use Amazon anymore. After dealing with expired food and medicine through Subscribe and Save, Amazon delivery just throwing things on the ground and damaging them, and unreturnable items like the phone accessory, I am done with them for physical items.

Getting through to Amazon customer service is a huge pain in the butt, especially now that the customer service flow is self-help -> text chat -> telephone chatbot -> foreign call center. With Walmart, I just drive a half block away, go to customer service, wait in line for five minutes, and boom, it's done. It's a breath of fresh air honestly.

> Amazon has started selling items that aren't returnable and I wish I could opt out of it. I got a laptop/phone bracket that was made with some crappy, brittle plastic, but Amazon didn't accept returns on that item.

Every time I read shit like that I feel like EU's intrusiveness and overreaching might in the end be worth it if it stops [1] corporation from shit like that

* https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/consumers/shopping/gua...

Maybe the intrusiveness and overreaching was just fundamental consumer protections all along.

Partly. But it's wildly mixed with market protection mechanisms, and quite some pure bureaucratic craziness.

And it's not like you couldn't buy worst "chinesium" in the EU. On the other hand they will "protect" you from buying useful stuff…

The basic rules and guiding principles are at least customer friendly. (And we usually don't wait until something breaks in terrible ways. We try to enforce high standards early on. But like said, often the rules are only there to protection EU vendors and their markets in the end).

But probably the truth is somewhere in between, like most of the time.

Oh, no, there is definitely some questionable overreach in regulations, the most known example to the outside is probably just how shittily the "cookie law" was written, good intentions with law that made the intentions irrelevant as implementation just trained users to click the stupid button and get on with their day.

And stuff like pushing for EVs before infrastructure is there, all while planes are fine and dandy to run on fucking leaded fuel...

The cookie law wasn't half as shitty as the lazy ways companies adhere to it. But even that I'll take any day over the time before the cookie law (which, BTW, is much more extensive than just regulating cookies).

If a law results in companies taking actions that annoy and impede hundreds of millions of people in aggregate, there's something wrong with the law. Governments need to consider the actual effects when they write laws, not what the effects would be in an ideal world.

The law doesn't result in the companies taking actions that annoy, that is the decision of the company. Why do you absolve the company of any and all responsibility?

The law causes malicious compliance therefore it's a bad law?

Well, sure. However, quite a lot of the websites aren't actually in compliance in the first place.

For example, this Christmas I had to remind a company that me placing an order was not permission for them to email me a survey asking how good the delivery was — customers aren't a free QA team.

A law that results in negative outcomes outweighing the positive ones is a bad law, yes.

Like all US tax law?

A lot of tax law is bad, yes. I certainly wouldn't say all though.

Maybe they should have worked out some basic scenarios and written the law with those in mind?

That what appears to what happened with GDPR, it is much more sensible and covers the common "workarounds" of making the reject harder or blocking the site content if you reject

"And stuff like pushing for EVs before infrastructure is there, all while planes are fine and dandy to run on fucking leaded fuel..."

You have to start somewhere and go step by step, if you want to solve huge problems.

Who would pay for an infrastructure for EVs, when there are no EVs around? Chicken and egg problem.

There is many crazy shit the EU has done, like the famous regulation on how cucumbers are supposed to bend exactly, which they abolished by now, but still once a month, the whole parliament and stuff moves from Strasbourg to Bruessel - and back, because they cannot settle one one place to be, but the slight push for renewable energy would not be on my list of big faults, even if it is inconsistent.

Here it is the USDA regulations on how cucumbers are supposed to bend and how to grade them:


Damn that US government overreaching, telling cucumbers how much should they bend!

...or maybe that regulation is there for a reason (most times to protect consumers)?

That's not stopping you from selling the cucumbers, just normalizes "quality classes" so customers know what they get. EU does stuff like that for many regional product, you can make cheese, you just can't name it say "Parmigiano Reggiano".

It's not the same as banning

"or maybe that regulation is there for a reason (most times to protect consumers)"

Erm, can you tell me in what way a cucumber is dangerous to consumers, if its shape is bend a little bit more or less, so they need to be protected of that threat?

These regulations are descriptive. They exist so that there is a law somewhere that describes what a cucumber is.

Sidenote, this whole exchange is .. urgh. People criticizing things they haven't spent a minute to try to understand :/

Imagine if I came up to your monitor and started looking at individual lines of your code, and then I see an "x = 0", and I start criticizing it in a vacuum, completely cluelessly, as someone who has never coded before?

"People criticizing things they haven't spent a minute to try to understand"

Or maybe I have indeed worked on fields and packaging when I was younger and travelling and witnessed the throwing away of perfectly fine food, that just did not met some arbitary size regulations?

"Sidenote, this whole exchange is .. urgh"

But I agree to that. I am not really here to discuss the sense of defining cucumber sizes. If you are into that, have fun with it.

> can you tell me in what way a cucumber is dangerous to consumers, if its shape is bend a little bit more or less

I can't tell why a bent cucumber is dangerous, but I can tell tell why specifications for cucumbers are sometimes needed. When someone in the food industry needs cucumbers, he can't use any kind of cucumber, because it will go through machines with a calibre expectation. The industry that builds the machines also need specifications for their inputs.

Many regulations on fruits and vegetable are meant to help the food processing, since nowadays most of the raw food is processed by the food industry, not by consumers in their kitchens.

Oh, and you can still sell vegetable that are out of spec. AFAIK that's still legal in Europe, but since they can't have the right label, wholesale buyers may be hard to find at the same price.

" When someone in the food industry needs cucumbers, he can't use any kind of cucumber, because it will go through machines with a calibre expectation"

We were talking about consumer products.

"Oh, and you can still sell vegetable that are out of spec. "

Now you can. The regulations regarding sizes of cucumbers have been abolished in 2009, even though the whole theather about it was rather populism.

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verordnung_(EWG)_Nr._1677/88_(... (german)

As far as I can see, if you produce a fruit that is healthy, with good coloration and the only thing “wrong” about it is the shape then you can still sell it.

You just can’t call your torus shaped fruit a cucumber because that’s not what anyone expects a cucumber to look like.

I'm looking at the USDA regulations and they seem reasonable to me. Looks like they're protecting consumers from being sold garbage labeled "cucumbers" instead of cucumbers labeled "cucumbers".

"The maximum diameter of each cucumber shall be not more than 2-3/8 inches and the length of each cucumber shall be not less than 6 inches"

Why is that reasonable?

This regulation means, that perfectly fine cucumbers that happen to be a bit smaller will get thrown away. Or well, into the lower grade category, but even in the lowest category

"maximum diameter of each cucumber shall be not more than 2-3/8 inches and the length of each cucumber shall be not less than 5 inches"

These are arbitary size regulations. You do not need to regulate that to ban garbage. You can have a cucumber with the perfect shape, that is still garbage, because sunburned or too ripe or the plant was sick or whatever. Yes it should be illegal to sell garbage as fresh food and it probably is, but I do not see the connection to shape at all. This is merely aesthetics and personally I prefer a weird shaped ecological cucumber over a perfectly sized and shiny tasteless thing full of pesticides any day.

Do you pay by the kilo (or pound) for cucumbers or per unit?

That depends on the market and seller, I have seen both. And whether I buy a cucumber depends on its quality.

What big cucumbers they sell in stores nowadays!

In all seriousness, if you’re paying by weight (or volume) then it should be OK not to have standard sized cucumbers… but pricing per unit should be reasonably consistent.

Putting money in infrastructure so customer sees it's cheaper to use EVs and just buys it is fine, but ban on ICE car sales is not "slight push".

Given the size of the problem climate change, it is a slight push, especially since the sales ban is supposed to start in 2035.

> Who would pay for an infrastructure for EVs, when there are no EVs around?

The owners, obviously. You think we installed gas stations before we had cars?

But an ICE car is an obvious improvement in both cost and usability to a horse-drawn carriage. Half of the value of an EV is that it's cheaper and easier to refuel. Making everyone who'd want one pay thousands to install infrastructure for them removes a lot of the reason you'd ever buy one, since it's otherwise essentially the same as an ICE car in terms of usage.

If anything, right now, an EV is literally a worse car to an equivalent ICE in terms of what it's capable of. The reasons you'd have one is either general environmental altruism or because it'll be cheaper over the long term to own one.

Back when horse drawn carriages were the most common, EVs looked better than ICEs.

We had to find the petroleum reserves before diesel and petrol could get cheap enough for ICEs to fully dominate over that era's EVs.

Sure, but that's not really relevant to the point I'm trying to make. People moved away from animal-based travel to cars because cars had distinct improvements in usability and upkeep cost. It was ok to have the infrastructure come later because they were still an obvious improvement even without the infrastructure being in place yet.

Right now, if I want an EV, I'm paying 20% more money to buy it, it's got a shorter range than my ICE for the same size car, and the infrastructure to do things like long trips with multiple recharges isn't there yet.

No, but only because gas station idea (drive through automated fuel retail) wasn't a thing.

However a human with a fuel reserve that could top you up was a thing before cars (a fuel retail). Before the dawn of the automobiles people were replacing steam engines with gas and liquid powered engines.

Okay, I'm interested, how did one get car fuel back then? Did people have to send one of their servants to a chemist for a mixture?

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filling_station#United_States :

> The first "drive-in" filling station, Gulf Refining Company, opened to the motoring public in Pittsburgh on December 1, 1913, at Baum Boulevard and St Clair's Street. Prior to this, automobile drivers pulled into almost any general or hardware store, or even blacksmith shops in order to fill up their tanks.

If companies had respected the Do Not Track and browser vendors had made it easier to adopt we wouldn't have ended up with the situation we are in now.

If we really cared about tracking and privacy, browsers would just disable 3rd party cookies (or make it easy to disable cookies). It's full-on insane to use the law to force every website developer to add their own cookie banner when we could just change the browser and be done with it.

> browsers would just disable 3rd party cookies (or make it easy to disable cookies)

Firefox has that built into its tracking protection. I don't know what's it set to by default, but it took me three clicks to reach the setting.


Or, the website could just not track you and thus not require a cookie banner?

They could, but ultimately they want to track us.

People also want to perform CSRF attacks. So what do we do? Make a law against CSRF? Or change the browsers to make it much harder?

You've just said:

> It's full-on insane to use the law to force every website developer to add their own cookie banner […]

Which is obvious FUD. And this comment now makes it clear that you actually knew that you're spreading FUD.

> browsers would just disable 3rd party cookies (or make it easy to disable cookies).

Hasn't that been a standard browser setting since the 1990s? I remember Netscape had it.

I trust you are aware that a very very small portion of aviation fuel burned is leaded (mostly just small general aviation aircraft)

What's wrong with "the cookie law"?

If a website wants to spy on you it needs to make that at least very clear to the user.

Nobody likes "cookie banners". But those banners are just a result of the fact that almost all web sites want to spy on their users, and sell the this way collected data. If you don't do that you don't need any banner. (Does HN has a cookie banner? Does for example https://noyb.eu/en has a banner? Does Wikipedia has a banner? Go figure.)

> And stuff like pushing for EVs before infrastructure is there, all while planes are fine and dandy to run on fucking leaded fuel...

To be clear, normal planes don't run on leaded fuel. Avgas, which is often leaded, is used in small propellor planes.

Also, these seem, er, totally unrelated? The EU could ban leaded fuel tomorrow, and arguably should; this would lead to the grounding of a small number of small planes. But it doesn't have a lot to do with cars.

Europe is always saving everyone's ass ... Airline policies, usb-c on phones, 5 years support, etc etc. But it's still never enough.

I guess the libertarian American argument would be that the free market is already doing its job here, as the parent commenter is no longer using Amazon quite as much as they used to. Walmart is providing a better service. People will eventually figure that out and flock to Walmart. Why do we need the law to tell Amazon what to do?

Yes, but truth is that free market is not actually working.

If free market really worked, there would be no Amazon bad customer care, because they would not survive the competition of a great number of better services.

In reality in most places in America Amazon and Walmart are the only alternatives, with only one of the two easily available.

Free market has killed the small shops that provided the aforementioned good customer support.

If USA version of free market was so good as advertised, things like food deserts [1] would not exist. It's something that have an enormous impact on society at large and hits fragile families harder, if that wasn't possible by law, wouldn't it be better?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_desert

Yeah good points - I definitely don't want to say that free market always results in perfect outcomes. n=1, Amazon does seem to be out-competed by Walmart in terms of customer support. If they still survive after awhile of this without improving their customer support, then the stubborn conclusion would be that people on average actually don't care so much about customer support! Or maybe more like people don't use customer support quality as a big factor for deciding which website to buy from (and that definitely might be a good reason to include some regulation. customer support is in peoples' best interest but they don't think about it so much)

It's so bad that I've started to disregard any customer support that happens as a chat. I'd rather drop and email or a support ticket than talk to some godforsaken chatbot or wait in line for 2 hours to talk to a human. It seems to me that the "chat support" craze has been used as an excuse to gut customer support teams.

I’m travelling in Asia at the moment, and I had forgotten how much I loved the WhatsApp customer support approach. Most businesses have a WhatsApp account, and you just send them a DM when you need to talk to somebody. Response times are typically very quick, and sending a DM takes sooooo much less effort than a phone call. I wish the rest of the world would adopt SEA’s love for WhatsApp business accounts.

In the US, Apple's iMessage support chat service is incredible and I'm correspondingly much more likely to do business with companies that offer it, just in case I end up needing support.

This really shouldn't be a surprise. Even the outsourced Indian human support lines, where they are required to recite the corporate litany, and monitored to make sure they do, are really just human shields that protect the corporation from accountability...

Most of the outsourced support I've tried to get help from really might as well be chatbots. They will just keep repeating the same things which don't actually answer my question.

I think the human on the other side is given tools with canned responses to select from so they too often lean on that.

That and they are required to have like 20+ windows open.

I could not do that job.

They were mechanical Turks waiting for the real bot upgrade.

> Amazon has started selling items that aren't returnable and I wish I could opt out of it

Is that legal?

I would not buy something where the seller can literally ship junk and legally you have no recourse.

Imagine you order a box of condoms, open the box. The product doesn’t violate any factual claim of the seller, but it’s not what you had in mind and want to return the box.

Should the seller eat the loss and accept the return?

That’s one simple case, but there will be myriads of other cases where a customer simply opening the case means the product has no retail value anymore.

You can’t blanket set a rule where the seller eats the loss no matter what. The customer having to prove beyond doubt that they were shipped a product that is fraudulent under objective standards is a natural evolution of a marketplace.

The middle ground is heuristics and surveillance of overall customer claims, but I’m not sure that’s what we’re arguing about.

> The customer having to prove beyond doubt that they were shipped a product that is fraudulent under objective standards is a natural evolution of a marketplace.

So I will sell you on Amazon an enpty box instead of a Rolex. You open the box and its empty, how are you going to prove the box was empty to begin with?'

Suppose I ship you a CPU i know to be broken, how will you prove it was broken? I, the seller, can alway say you broke it.

Welcome to retail.

On online retail, that’s why delivery services weight the packages, take photos of the boxes delivered etc.

On retail in general, we’ve enjoyed these same questions for decades. You buy a video card, open the box and a connector is bent. When getting it back to the brick and mortar store, you’ll have quite a time explaining you didn’t crush it by accident. Shops that value you will help. Other will just show you the door, and you’ll need to find many other people with similar issues to finally get your voice heard.

A lot of people here seem to be arguing Amazon returns are black and white… they are not, and you’ll have the same discussions as everywhere else, except you’ll be sending messages and photos back and forth.

There is an important distinction - if you buy something in store, at least hypothetically have a chance to inspect. You at least will see that the box is sealed and undamaged, and you could open it if you insist.

When you get a package delivered, you can do none of those things

In my experience this is a distinction without being relevant in a lot of cases. I used to shop at a national retailer that had a very generous return policy, the other side of it being that they’d inspect returns and potentially repackage them when judging they had been unused (sealed package etc.), except for super high margin stuff where they’d be more open to just discard the returns.

But then fraudster learned the ropes, and after a while knowing wether your product was actually new or not got basically impossible. They still had a generous return policy, so you wouldn’t be left SOL, but expectations got a lot different.

I’ll aim for a brick and mortar retailer if I go for a specific well established brand I’m willing to pay extra for (in particular if it’s the brand’s direct store), but otherwise I don’t feel physical retail has much of a high ground compared to online ones given the overhead and other limitations.

> The product doesn’t violate any factual claim of the seller, but it’s not what you had in mind and want to return the box.

The product doesn't have to violate any "factual" claim of the seller when the seller isn't beholden to customers.

> Should the seller eat the loss and accept the return?

Yes absolutely. Sellers should stand behind the products they manufacture. If a customer doesn't like something they purchased then the customer should be entitled to obtaining recompense up to, and including, a refund.

Suppose you go to a restaurant and order the McFatmeup Burger Prince. You take one bite of it and decide you don't like it.

Should you pay for the burger?

Yes? In what McDonald's do you get to walk away from that? Maybe in a super fancy restaurant that builds subjective satisfaction into the cost of doing business, but then you can also go to department stores where they have unlimited return policies, not some discount place like Amazon.

Now granted, Amazon used to have good customer service, but now they are definitely discount.

McDonald's and fast food places deal with situations like that everyday, and from what I see, they just make the food how the customer wants it in retrospect, let them substitute it for something else or refund them.

Refusing to do so over a $6 sandwich is how you get irate customers calling corporate to complain, who will then give them coupons for free meals in response.

> Should you pay for the burger?

I’ve had restaurants replace an order for various reasons, some as silly as “our kid read the wrong menu line”, and while we’re ready to pay for it the restaurants usually eat the cost.

But we’re still paying for the whole meal and additional purchases, and the restaurant’s loss (time and raw ingredients) is hopefully covered by the rest of the orders. We actually make an effort to order enough for that tbh.

I were to go to a fancy burger shop, order a menu, take one bite, stand up and get out of the shop shouting “that burger is disgusting” with a horrified face, I’d definitely should be paying for that burger, yes.

That’s the easiest proposition ever.

Do you want to be the entity that enabled my wife and I to have an all weekend sexathon, with the piece of mind that there’s no surprise baby coming? Or do you want the be the entity that cock-blocked me by sticking us with the condoms she doesn’t like?

It’s worth more than the value of the product to be the vendor that got me laid.

Companies like Amazon are making bad customer decisions like this because their growth trajectory is falling and they didn’t see it coming. So they are stuck with stupid capital investments and with running their own version of the post office that they don’t really need.

So now the MBA idiots assume that I’m some sort of criminal scamming them out of condoms. (All the while operating the largest carnival of grift ever devised via FBA) Whatever, I’ll go to CVS and deal with the inconvenience and awful shopping experience rather than risk being stuck with a product I don’t like.

Do you get to return condom boxes at CVS ?

> It’s worth more than the value of the product to be the vendor that got me laid.

This is of course the key. Is it actually worth more to them ?

To jest, if for instance you were ready to give up on Amazon and go buy everything from Wallmart at the first sign Amazon isn’t treating you well enough, and expect to be buying high brand goods at lower than market price, your LTV will probably be pretty low to Amazon. And of course, as you don’t like their condoms, you’re also basically dead to the seller.

On the other hand, if you were willing to eat up the price of a box of condoms, see high value in the Amazon experience, will continue to buy Amazon stuff even if there’s occasional hiccups, you’re a ton more valuable to Amazon. But then their real value to you won’t be wether they force the seller to accept the return, but probably wether they can get you a box of a different brand ASAP.

> Do you get to return condom boxes at CVS ?

Depends on the manager but at least a human is making a decision.

> Is that legal?

Not in Europe.

I think we're conflating two things. A seller has to refund / replace / repair any merchandise that is defective or not as advertised, and that's true in the US and in the EU.

A seller does not necessarily have to accept returns if you changed your mind, found the item cheaper somewhere else, or just don't like it. Pretty sure that's also the case in the EU.

That is not the case at least in the UK; you have 14 days after receiving an item, for any online purchase you make, to return it, even if you just changed your mind.

Consumer protection regulations are genuinely so nice for feeling at ease with buying stuff online.

It is not the case in the EU, the legal term is "cooling off period". You get 14 days to change your mind for physical products ordered online

In Brazil you have 7 days to return any online order, no questions asked. You can use the product and return if you don’t like it, provided the product is not scratched etc. Companies might try to bullshit you and say that the ToS states that they only accept returns for products that weren’t opened, but they always cave after I send them the exact part of the consumer laws that support me. They have to refund the full amount, including shipping.

Caveat Emptor.

AFAIK it's legal. Might be courteous to disclose "no returns accepted" on such listings, but I don't think it's mandatory, at least not everywhere.

Buy with a credit card that offers warranty coverage on purchased items.

Even brick and mortar stores definitely will sell special items (discontinued items, returned items, etc.) on an all sales final basis sometimes.

It's reasonable they could do a chargeback on the basis of violation of implied warranty of fitness.

Edit: it's probably a violation of implied warranty of merchantability.

in the US yeah. it takes coordinated pressure from the working class to get reasonable-seeming laws like that passed. when we leave our rights to corporate charity, this is what we're left with

That’s in a physical store, which aren’t obligated to accept returns in Europe either (though they often do). Accepting returns is only mandatory for online sales, because there the buyer can’t physically evaluate the product like they can in a physical store.

It's interesting you say this because for some time people in my family were using Amazon's excellent customer service to make money by fraudulently lying about misdeliveries and product conditions. From what they told me customer services reps at Amazon basically ask no questions (unlike other stores) and would happily ship you multiple high-value items. Apparently you'd have to be strategical to not make it look too suspicious, but if you can get serval households involved you could get a few new phones for free over the course of a year.

This was for higher value items though, and maybe Amazon's customer service / returns policy is different in the UK, but I'm genuinely surprised that you avoid Amazon for returns because from what I understand they're far more likely to accept a return than other retailers.

I think I probably have a biased perspective because of my background, but 99% of the time when I hear about someone returning stuff they're doing it fraudulently. That cost is then passed on to people like myself who basically refuse to return anything unless I'm sure I'm 100% not at fault so in general I wish companies didn't do returns outside of exceptional circumstances. Also working for a phone insurance company and a retailer with a relaxed returns policy made me appreciate the insane level of fraud which has to be financed by honest consumers.

But on the topic of in-store returns, one of the only times I've ever returned anything was a pair of £60 shoes which tore in the first week of normal use. I went to the store I brought it from and explained they tore and would like a replacement. The staff were extremely rude and tried to blame me which I found very uncomfortable. They then said they'd have to ship it to some department to assess if it can be repaired or replaced. A couple of weeks later I got a call saying it was decided I was at fault, so no replacement or refund would be issued and that I could come collect my shoes from the store. The store was about 30 minutes away from my house and I had to pay for parking, so this was all extremely inconvenient.

Maybe it's just because I have social anxiety, but I'll take cheerful chatbot over having to deal with a rude person instore any day of the week. In fact, it's why I use Amazon. Their customer support has always been great for me.

I think on one side Amazon started punishing those who abused the return policy repeatedly and, on the other one, the chat support has become a shit show with people not being able to help and being just as bad as chatbots.

I've personally been sent a single elastic band for hairs instead of 1 TB SSD, twice, and had to explain to them that shipping it back didn't make sense for either of us and eventually got what I needed them to understand, but only after wasting over an hour talking to some clown service who isn't allowed to use proof or their breaks. And that's just how things have been going in the last year, worst and worst...

> think I probably have a biased perspective because of my background, but 99% of the time when I hear about someone returning stuff they're doing it fraudulently.

seemsna little biased - I was looking for an item to fix a problem, in this sitiation the only way to know which item would fit was by trying. Bought four items, returned 3.

Of manufacturers of said items probided accurate and precise specification, they would save everyones time

Regardring sneakers, had similar situation, I think one ofnthose cases whwre you ahve to raise hell over it to get your way

> Amazon delivery just throwing things on the ground and damaging them

My experience with the delivery people has been fine.

But Amazon itself keeps wrapping books that I order in bubble-padded manila envelopes that are too tight. This causes obvious damage to the corners of the book. I have repeatedly complained to them about this, and their response is "we have no way to control what packaging is used on any shipment".

They used to ship things in boxes. They should go back to that.

Is a $9 bracket even worth your time to return it? It's going to take your time to return something at Walmart, too.

What Amazon does for me is save the most valuable thing I have - time. Buying printer paper at a store costs me an hour + gas. Buying it from Amazon - 3 minutes.

The time = money equation doesn't really work for my situation. I get a fixed amount of money every month, no matter how hard I work or don't work. I am picking up eggs and milk at Walmart anyways, so sure it's worth my time. Especially if I get to see the same faces every once in awhile. While they may not be paid the best, I'll take a smiling local face over a distant chatbot any day of the week.

As to your example, buying printer paper online, this invariable leads to my box of printer paper being smashed by Amazon's delivery people (probably b/c they are paid like crap), and I have to return it - costing more than an hour + my frustration. So instead, I can drop by Walmart, pick up eggs and milk - and squeeze my tomatoes to make sure they aren't mush - look at my lettuce to check for slime, pick up a box of printer paper and drop off my return/exchange.

Also, Target, Office Depot, Home Depot, Lowe's and Costco have great customer service compared to Amazon too. Walmart just has 3rd party sellers that other store don't offer - so Walmart is getting more of my online orders lately.

I tried to return online merchandise from Walmart at a physical store and they didn't take it. This was a few years ago. I would assume due to your story the policy changed, but have you actually done it or is this conjecture?

I've bought endless stuff from Amazon, and only once got a damaged package (it was inadequately packed, the package wasn't abused). I'm not denying your experience, just that mine is positive.

Ironically by far the biggest issue I’ve had with Amazon shipping is with books, specifically hardbacks with dust covers. They love to just throw them loose in a too-big box.

Annoying when it’s a new release.

Infuriating when it’s a 50 year old, long out of print book.

You might laugh, but I buy the cheapest, most battered books from Amazon. I kinda like the patina of a well-used book, and let the people who like pristine ones buy the others! My LotR trilogy is one of my valued possessions: dirty, smudged, creased, battered, yellowed, dogeared, it's awesome. They've clearly been enjoyed by their previous owner(s).

Sadly, the local used bookstore tries hard to stock books only in "like new" condition. This removes the best "tell" for if the book is good or not - if it looks well-used, it's probably a great book.

I don’t mind patina, but it took my 3 tries to get an acceptable copy of of a rare naval history book.

The first arrived with the spine totally destroyed (some pages literally hanging on my a thread) and the second was shipped in such a large box that it came open during shipping, and every single page had a massive hard crease at varying angles.

Amazon handled it far as refunds, but it still took over a month, and that’s now 2 less copies of that book in existence, and it’s not exactly common.

This is a book that goes for $100+ even well used

I have some old naval books, so I'm curious of the title of yours.

Got a couple shelf’s of em, but the book in question is Breyer - Battleships and Battlecruisers 1905-1970

Useful because it (brief, but extant) coverage of nations like Brazil, Spain, and Greece, which don’t tend to get much coverage.

Wow, looks like a sweet book!

I have many, too, including the set "History of United States Naval Operations in World War II" by Morison.

I’ve been tempted by that one too… but I got too many I haven’t read already :)

Norman Friedman is excellent, very engineering heavy.

> started selling items that aren't returnable and I wish I could opt out of it

I'm not sure if this is legal in Australia or EU. You might also have some state-level laws that would prevent this. Have you tried pushing back against them?

Amazon has officially turned heel and now everyone still uses them but at least they realize it often sucks. With so many other options I don't see why people use them if another option exists.

Here's a video of horrible customer service that's better than Amazon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECZQ7qzGbUY .

Micro Center RULES!!!

As someone who tends to have unconventional needs of support (because I already figure out anything that is a more normal request), I despite chat bots with a passion.

They never have any idea about what is going on, and add excessive delay getting to someone who can actually look at and override or fix whatever broken thing in their system is causing the problem.

Hard to say if they top voice call mazes though.

The chat bots always just seem to be frontends for their knowledge bases, because a lot of people don't even try to self-help. But that's so frustrating for those of us who do; YES, I have tried resetting it, let me get past you chatbot.

The chatbot is there to encourage abandonment.

I work on a chatbot that provides support. I also do analytics for all of our support channels.

Businesses do not want higher abandonment, and deploying automation reduces abandonment. When we deployed a chatbot on our phone support channel, abandonment went down 20% (this includes people that abandon inside the chatbot).

The reason why chatbots exist and why they aren't going away is because they reduce support costs. Our chatbot resolves 40% of issues. That translates to millions of dollars in savings.

I'm not trying to defend chatbots by saving they improve customer experience. In most cases they hurt customer experience. It's too tempting for corporations to resist though. Sooner or later someone is going to ask why support costs are so much higher than their competitors.

Shibboleet [1]

* [1] https://xkcd.com/806/

Not the point of that comic, but I love how the first guy doesn’t even have a computer on his desk, so he couldn’t help directly with anything even if he wanted to.

I wonder if any telephone menu engineers have actually implemented this after reading the xkcd.

I'm trying to think of other real life copying fictional concepts, but can't come up with anything right now...

It sounds like something that might be included in this answering service: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXx-n6T7tZg

It's a pity you can't opt for a short quiz to prove you've tried the usual approaches.

Or just put down a deposit that gets refunded only if the issue ends up being legitimate. A "I bet $100 that I'm not a dumbass" button.

Sounds like a very quick way to build a negative brand image.

You can frame it in a more "brandable" way, such as calling it a support contract.

If the support contract came with the refundable part, I'd be more enticed to purchase said contract. I so rarely have issues that require support a $25/per incident would still be so so much less than the typical prices of support contracts. To then have that $25 be refundable when it turns out there's an actual issue with the product would make it a no-brainer. After all, if your product wasn't broken, I wouldn't need the help of support. Which means you sold me something that doesn't work.

I really like the idea

I bet $1000000 that every dumbass would push that button.

Dumber people even quicker than others.

As long as it’s priced properly to compensate the technical support advisors dealing with the stupid tickets, why not?

Checks would probably bounce.

That would take engineering time and resources. Given the multiplied bell curve distributions of technical aptitude, domain experience, and whatever else might compel a person to solve their own problems, this audience is vanishingly long tail.

If you put the direct contact link on the website, people who forgot to plug the product in will find it.

Another solution is to hire more customer support staff. But that's costly - headcount, training, etc. And there's a lot of churn from downright abusive customers.

A business has a million other things that need attention.

Is it better or worse when you know exactly why they’re fucking you that way?

> They never have any idea about what is going on, and add excessive delay getting to someone who can actually look at and override or fix whatever broken thing in their system is causing the problem.

This is by design and replaces arguing with their clueless first level support staff who could be solving easy problems. I'm not saying it's right, just that it's intentional and likely cheaper.

I don't actually mind the chat bots which are smart enough to successfully redirect the simple stuff to the appropriate KB's, and escalate to a human being (even if on chat) when they have run the gauntlet. These are rare, and almost certainly require a well-oiled machine to get right. Total junk without a huge KB, which is well maintained and indexed.

PayPals literally took me into the same canned question & response loop twice in the same session until the bot suggested that I could talk to a human which was available seconds after that suggestion.

I tried to same loop before several times, always asking for a human. But obviously I didn't meet the character threeshold or whatever that it would be willing to forward me.

Worst possible customer experience by far

So I had a text from a major uk phone provider (forget who now) that my phone number was being ported to them. It took 24 hours of chat to resolve. I kept being put in their chat queue. It would take them about 4 hours to respond each time, but if I didn't then respond within 10 minutes it was straight to the back again. Every time I got a human who failed to read the thread above and asked the same dumb questions (no I don't have an account number, I don't want to be your customer but you have told me you are stealing my number!). If I didn't respond within 10 minutes, back of the queue again.

maybe you'd have had to start the loop over if the human wasn't available? kind of like having to circle the airport until the runway is clear?

No. I just write 'fuck this' about 20 times now until the bots directly refers me to a human.

would be nice of those chatbot teams to put in a backdoor we can use to bypass the first-line support scripts, like mashing # 0 * on a phone pad

"Please escalate" seems to work sometimes, but I'd be fine with "ENGAGE_LUCKY_MODE_777" or something

I always go with "bring me to your leader". Works quite often as it seems to confuse elizas enough.


When you have already troubleshot and gone through the help docs and are actually pointing out a flaw in their system - chatbots are completely useless.

"and are actually pointing out a flaw in their system - chatbots are completely useless"

If you managed to find an actual flaw, then chances are that the next humans you will talk to, will be completely useless as well and only if you bring enough patience and have nothing else to do, eventually you will be escalated to someone with competence. At least that was my experience and usually I cut my losses and give up before making it that far.

Having worked customer support as one of my first jobs, I have a feeling a lot of people use it just to have an emotional punching bag to take out their frustration on others, or as a buffer for unpopular corporate policies which customers don't like.

Corporation adds a policy that's unpopular with customers? No worries, customer support is there to take the anger and complaints

"I am really frustrated with your company and I know it is not your fault"

"take your time"

"thanks for doing what you can"

"I hope your next call is easier"

Being nice to the poor CS person is easy and sometimes results in better service. There is no reason to take your frustrations out on them as no one in the company that could make a difference will ever hear about it.

"There is no reason to take your frustrations out on them as no one in the company that could make a difference will ever hear about it."

That depends, if enough support guys get yelled into depression and quitting, someone higher up eventually has to make a change. But this is obviously very a dark path and so far, my support tickets did not feel important enough, to actually ruin other peoples life for it. But it sucks, that you seem never get through to someone who actually is responsible for all that mess.

When talking to human customer support, I'm happy to be superficially pleasant even if I'm having a bad day with their company, and I like when they treat me the same. Just because one of us is having a bad day, doesn't mean we should go and ruin the day of another person. Even if I hate their employer, the discussion I'm having is person-to-person, not person-to-corporation. Being superficially pleasant is a genuine courtesy to the other person.

But when the corporate representative is a bot, not a person, I know the superficial pleasantness cannot be explained by one person earnestly trying to be pleasant to another. No, in this case the pleasantness is wholly artificial and I don't appreciate it in the least.

> , the discussion I'm having is person-to-person, not person-to-corporation.

The only way to have a person to corporation discussion is to file a lawsuit. At least that I know ofm

I remember reading some time ago about a cinema chain that used a technique they called "bullfighter" or similar, that was designed to reduce the customer's anger by having several layers of staff handle the issue.

With each new "layer" the customer got a little less angry, until it came to a point where the customer would be in a more reasonable state, and then a solution would be provided which made the customer happy.

The dowside was that the first few staff members that had to deal with the customer would receive the bulk of the anger which I imagine wasn't fun.

But by making the customer feel like their issue was being "escalated" (even though the layers would actually be staff of the same rank), by the time the customer was sent to an actual manager, they would be more receptive to a solution.

The irony is that chatbots and automated phone support dont function like this — instead, they amplify anger. By the time you actually get to a human, you’re not just frustrated with the original issue, but the massive (and often bigger) pain of dealing with the terrible automated support system.

Ah yes. Sadly that is the case.

Yes, I've been on the phones, and talked to one or two such customers.

However, chatbots are just another unpopular (result of) policy on top of whatever else the customers are unhappy with.

I've also worked a lot of customer support/customer facing jobs.

When I'm the customer, I've taken to outright saying on the call that I blame corporate/their management. Let enough customers get wise and maybe it'll change.

Never shoot the messenger, unless you're a jerk. There's a lot of jerks. Then again, there was that one time with my ISP...

Cheerfulness works, it is one of the best way to make me a return customer.

But that's not just cheerfulness, it is the idea that the service rep cares about me. Cheerfulness means "I am happy to be with you, I love my job, I will do my best for you to leave you satisfied". Of course as a customer I want that! But then, if like with most chatbots, I feel no intent to actually work on solving my problem, it goes straight down the uncanny valley. What are you? Happy to not help me? What's your problem? If it wasn't obvious from the start, that's typically a dead giveaway that I am dealing with a bot.

Actual people who are good at their job will know to put the right emotion for the situation, including a lot of cheerfulness, but only when appropriate. Bots don't get that. If they can't play the human game, just let them be machines, no useless emotions, keep things factual, short and to the point.

Yes. A polite machine is just annoying. Having a computer program say "thank you" is meaningless.

I've always wanted a navigator for my car that was rude. "Wake up! You should have turned back there, you fakking kahnt! A bleedin' monkey could drive better than that!" A library of a few thousand insults should keep it from getting too boring.

This goes back to the game Empire I wrote long ago. It was the only game I'd heard of where you weren't liberating cities, you weren't the good guy. You were the bad guy - subjugating cities, putting them under iron control, crushing your enemies. Your underlings replied with "yes master". Your armies would march off the boat and drown if you ordered it.

Factorio is about harvesting all the planet's resources, filling it with pollution, and killing any locals that attack you because of it

If I'm talking to support, it's because I already have some sort of problem. If I'm shunted into talking to a chatbot, I've now got two problems and I'm not happy about it. Adding a chipper disposition to it is like rubbing salt in the wound and a hollow attempt to paper over the fact that the business is trying to cut support costs as much as possible.

> If I'm talking to support, it's because I already have some sort of problem.

You and I may wait until then, but plenty of customers don't bother, and will open the chatbot because they can't be bothered to read the navigation. Companies then realize their customers are idiots wasting employee's time and throw them behind a chatbot to attempt to filter them out.

It's frustrating.

Not GP, but this is a good point that I honestly hadn't thought of. There are a lot of people who at the first sign of difficulty IMMEDIATELY reach out to support. The end calculus might become how worth it applying human labor to a low-intent lead is from an ROI basis. You want to make sure customers with high intent have the most help in getting to the end state (buying a good, returning something successfully, etc.), but you also want to filter out the people who are very low intent / can get their issue solved on their own.

Tough challenge as the chatbot helps them avoid chewing into their profitability but also hurts helping customers who need real help and are high value.

How soon until someone lets you

1) create a series of help docs

2) trains an AI on those help docs

3) solves customer headaches using a chatgpt interface with that training

4) drops you into a human that can help as soon as you ask for it.

My primary issues with "live chat" features are

1) They ask you for stupid stuff (email/name/etc) when you're logged in that are already in the system. This makes things worse somehow.

2) The sheer resistance to handing me over to a human when I've asked for it. If you don't have humans on live chat - that's fine, but at least send it to a help desk.

3) The fact they try to ask me to categorize the issue vs. semantically figuring it out via the request is extra annoying as they will often ask you this AGAIN if they can't initially place you in one of their pre-selected categories.

Issue #1 is likely because the "live chat" is a separate product that they bought and linked on the main website, but which is not integrated into the user database or authentication system at all. Therefore the bot needs to ask you for all this identifying information even though you are already logged in.

I've worked with products like that on the backend, and they're all perfectly capable of receiving data from your website so that the live chat staffer has all your info automatically show up. Someone was lazy and just didn't do the work to hook it up right.

I understand that - but they should be able to sync the databases or pass an auth token of some sort.

The fact you have to re-enter it all makes the experience stupid and customers frustrated.

This is what I was going to say. Chatbots suck today but with integration of a trained ChatGPT instance they could get substantially better. In some cases it could even better than first-line human support. (I am looking at you AT&T)

maybe, but seeing as ChaptGPT already has a habit of making shitup when it doens't know that looks plausible but is wrong I would be worried that it would start sending bad responses make situations worse and not have a obvious way to escalate to a human as its decided it has a 'solved' the problem.

I thought that people understood that this was the point of chat bots? Much like useless phone trees with awful automated speech recognition chatbot are - IMO as someone who has worked in NLP for over a decade - simply there to tire out the customer from tasks like:

- getting a refund for an order - cancelling a service - anything else that would cost the company money

Hostile design but in cutesy-wootsie 'Digital Assitant' form. Yuck.

Thankfully some geographies require the option to be able to one-click cancel your service (California) and some other localities (the EU) prohibit deceptive or 'hostile' website design. Try using Amazon.fr or Amazon.de sometime and compare it to the user experience of Amazon.com. Amazon Prime will notify you in the EU several days before your month of 'Free Prime' is up, before your credit card is charged. Even then, you have up to 14 days after the charge to cancel your membership AND the cost of the Prime membership will be refunded in full.

There's definitely a lot of hostile design around stopping things like cancellations and probably refunds, but I can also say, having worked on a support team and built tools for said support team, our main focus is that most support requests don't need us at all and paying support reps to answer them is a big cost.

I wish I still all my old charts about support ticket categories, but I'd bet that before we built out various tools to deflect them, the majority of our tickets could be answered by "read this help doc", "go to this section of your account page and click this button", or "you need to email the seller, not us". (I work at an Etsy-like site where only the individual sellers can answer most product and shipping questions.)

Simply having a chatbot answer all the questions answered in the helpdocs is worth tens of thousands of dollars in support agent time and should gets you the answer much faster than waiting for a small team to respond to support requests. The chatbot is dumb and annoying, but it doesn't have a backlog of tickets and it's on the job 24/7, so it might feel slow, but could easily be a day faster than emailing a human.

> our main focus is that most support requests don't need us at all

IMO this is tone-deaf. If customers want to talk to a human then a human is needed.

My internal customers at my current job like to DM me on Slack at all hours of day and night to ask me banal questions about their password or MFA device status. All of these have well documented answers I've sent them before, and have a general availability chat room I've sent them to, meant for them to be able to reach any of the members of my team who could assist them, and an entire ticketing system that could resolve their issue.

But no, they've decided it is my personal touch that is needed. Thankfully, I have a manager who is willing to stand behind me to ignore these customers who need me personally to hold their hand. I've been ignoring one of them for 3 months now. They still haven't reset their password the way they were told to the last two times they forgot it. They evidently don't need that account, since it's been inactive for 3 months and they're willing to wait to personally make it my problem.

There's classes of customer that really like to use their relationship to exert some power over their world and another human, whether it is remotely reasonable or not.

Sounds nice, but it's not reality. At my organization, most of the support calls were asking how to reset their password. Paying human beings to answer that question over and over again was just lighting money on fire.

We have a chat bot now.

Unfortunately, the customer paid a price that did not include the human fee, and likely also wouldn't have bought whatever they did if it was included.

In a few cases this is true, but usually people just want to achieve a specific task or answer a specific question, and if there's a button they could click to do it or a one-sentence answer, giving them that right now, vs. after a day of waiting, is almost always a better experiences.

What's happened recently (meaning, since the pandemic) is that some companies have de-staffed their systems to the point where there really is no path to resolution. This happens in cases where the company is completely at fault: e.g., when you order something and they charge you, but don't provide the item because they're out of stock.

It's a worrying trend, since it's hard to see what will reverse it. I imagine that every dimension of this must look profitable to management.

> What's happened recently (meaning, since the pandemic) is that some companies have de-staffed their systems to the point where there really is no path to resolution. This happens in cases where the company is completely at fault: e.g., when you order something and they charge you, but don't provide the item because they're out of stock.

This is a relevant and timely comment. I just filed a chargeback and dispute with my credit card company because a product I ordered was defective and could not be returned as the company didn’t have an address for returns and wouldn’t return phone calls. Of course, my credit rating went down 30 points after the chargeback and dispute. Seems like there’s no way to come out ahead here.

What is the company that made the sale?

> it's hard to see what will reverse it

Legislation. Consumer protection laws need to be in place so that the calculus is shifted to a point where providing refunds etc is cheaper than (risk_of_getting_caught * penalty_of_getting_caught)

Even when actual human beings give scripted customer service responses, it's already hard enough to come across well. Makes sense that taking the human being out of the loop but leaving in obsequious corporate niceness rubs people the wrong way. The customers were responding positively to a person, not to the script in front of the person (imo).

> The results across the studies show that using positive emotion in chatbots is challenging because businesses don’t know a customer’s biases and expectations going into the interaction. A happy chatbot could lead to an unhappy customer.

I don't think chatbots count as customer service, and the idea of a "happy chatbot" is nonsense, since the bot isn't happy or sad, it's a script. It's an interface to a set of FAQs. That does not count as customer service any more than a searchable FAQ or documentation site is customer service. It's useful, but it's not customer service, it's a way to avoid paying people who can provide customer service.

The founding premise of positive emotions from human service personel result it better client satisfaction is bogus. First: these humans are more like robots with heavily regulated and trained kind of interactions seemingly following predetermined scripts, not human-like at all. Robotic. More like carring out an excuse for ticking the 'have client support' on the cheklist of running a business, but without actually doing it. Two: inattentive incompetency and pushing company agenda down the throat of the client - which is the usual attitude - will not be neautralized with the words of 'excited', 'happy', 'glad', and other dishonesty, regardless if a human or AI does it. I seen a screenshot once, saved it:

  Support agent: How are you today?
  Client: Not good.
  Support agent: I am happy to hear that. How may I help you?
With years of bitter disappointment I reached the point of rather discontinuing a service instead of attempting communications with the support department. Of the several dozens of communications about 80% ended up in wasted time and nothing wrapped in pretentious politenes. No resolution but robotic and empty words. Of these half of the cases did not attempt making an effort comprehending the problem before throwing at me the first prepared phrase came to mind just to rush closing the damn ticket on their side (several rushed me to declare closed case before outcome was even possible - e.g. dependent on something delivered later). And almost all have the audacity to send a followup survey about satisfaction with the support.

No, polite words will make no difference, not at all. Only real help will. Be it grumpy or overflown with joy.

This is a bizarre comment. Studies report average effects, not individual effects. Just because your experience doesn't match what they find on average, the study doesn't become bogus!

You should consider the high number of 'measures' and the negative objective outcomes (being unhelpful) coupled with not paying attention, pushing scripts over situation specific needs. Too much of coincidence over different organizations and broad type of areas to consider just one off experience, more like a trend. With rare exceptions. Of course calling bogus becuase of 'robots' provide the support where human interaction is expected part is a rhetoric here. : ) (not the unhelpfulness of pretty phrasing in place of efficiency though, that's fact)

What matters is solving the issue. People don't need to talk to 'other people' or 'cheerful whatever'. The issue is the issue. That's where the focus should be. Fix the issue and everything else is going to be perceived as way in the background.

Wherever I encounter a chatbot, my user experience usually suffers a lot, especially if they give me a slow and hard to navigate tree menu instead of a well structured help index, and no way to contact actual support.

If I'm seeking out support, I'm already 1) unhappy and 2) dissatisfied with competence and capabilities of the service or product.

"Cheerfulness" and apologetic behaviour (e.g., "I'm so sorry (Sir/Ma'am...)" repeated more than once in a call/session have become net negative signs.

What I'm interested in is competence, usefulness, and empowerment, which are of course three expensive aspects of the customer-service experience.

Cheerfulness can help in addition to those, but it is not necessary. The experience need not be Seinfeld Soup Nazi levels of brusqueness. But if you're putting a smile, and lipstick, on a customer-service pig, You're Doing It Wrong.

First address competence and actual usefulness, as in "the problem was solved to the customer's satisfaction". Then worry about the charm school B.S.

Cheerfulness from a non sentient speaker is much much worse. It infuriates me.

Recently I had to call a government agency that had one of these bots and... the bot threatened to hang up if I didn't take it seriously by trying to use its services. Well, fine Ill play ball.

The bot gave up and hung up on me anyway.

Yeah. Encountering a cheerful chat bot when experiencing a frustrating issue is maddening. It amplifies the lack of empathy the company seems to have to the situation because you know the bot has no feelings. Feigning sympathy would be just as bad because it's fake and therefore not.

I don't care if I chat with a bot or a human. What's important is that I get access to support when I need it, and that the issue is resolved to my satisfaction.

Waiting on the phone for a human to become available for a long time is not making me happy.

They were never made for that.

Their purpose is to hire less tech support people. They don't care about your time wasted, and you bought the product already, better to pay people to sell product to more people than to deal with tiny % that has problems with it.

If your company has a reputation of not standing behind its products, selling is going to become harder, and more expensive, and your margins will go down. This is hard to measure accurately (people try with NPS, but that’s fraught with bias), so it might be hard to argue for spending more on customer satisfaction and a good reputation, if your org is trying to be metrics driven rather than intuition/principles driven.

So basically, blame the MBAs :-)

That's for the next manager or CEO to worry, you get your bonus for saving corporate money then move in.

Happy chatbots don’t improve customer service b/c being cheerful doesn’t necessarily improve customer service. It’s a nice bonus, but really what improves customer service is taking the time to make the customer feel like you understand whatever problem they are having. Being cheerful/happy/blah blah is a nice bonus, however really what makes you walk away feeling good is a feeling of being understood.

A chat bot can answer questions, but it’s a lot harder to make it understand your individual situation.

Source: rebooking passengers after delayed/canceled flights.

I would think this is obvious, as, similarly, cheerful real live customer support people don’t necessarily improve customer service.

If I have some issue I find it quite frustrating that the customer support can't do anything more than me.

In the case of a local bank down here in Australia, the out of hours, remote, customer support people can't even look up any of your details. Their script seems to be based on the text on the web site. They are really friendly (being Philippino), but can't actually do anything at all.

I've been trying to find phrases that stop automated chat replies.

Not every system seems to have escapes but

"I find these automated replies insulting"

sometimes seems to work, "insulted" or "insulting" might be the trigger

But every once in awhile I will get "I am not using automated replies" lol

The venn diagram of companies that use chatbots and that delight me does not intersect.

I can count the number of companies that delight me in 2022 on half of one hand. The rise of monopolies and data brokers means that businesses don't have to care whether I am delighted or not.

Customer Service is a form of continued sales. When it comes to money, people are more serious unless they are spending rounding error money. Being real is a better attitude than cheerful these days.

actually, chatbots may reduce costs and time of support for companies, but in the user perspective it's a mess. bots usually can do what it's available easily in the platform, but if I am talking to support it's because the problem did go bad so hard that I need a HUMAN in support to solve my problem.

so... chatbots are a shield which companies use to protect your support team for high demand while users like me try need to destroy the shield to get what I want.

it's at least a conflict of interest.

As much as I despise chatbots they are not going anywhere.

So let's say you had the funding and intent, how would you build the next gen chat bot to avoid a lot of the pains we have with them ?

Whether it is a human or a chatbot, I think most people want to know the company behind the product will do right by them and keep promises made. It’s a about trust, not about cheer.


Who would think that chatbots improve customer service? I hate chat bots personally. Am I missing something? Do some people like them?

Chat bots are a scourge and I can’t believe any company seriously puts them in front of customers.

That should be obvious. It doesn't matter if you smile while robbing me.

What drives me nuts is when I’m (possibly) talking to a chat bot and I have not way of knowing.

Notify me that you are not a human.

It's enraging when they add fake delays to the chat bot in order to try to trick me into thinking it's real. Double whammy of wasting more of my time than necessary and lying to me.

Add to that the chatbox is often excessively verbose, putting a large reading burden onto me.

In addition, should such a practice become normal, countless human beings entering the society will be damaged by being misled to believe that those entities are actually human, and would based their judgement of actual humans on what they learn right then

I feel the results of this study would be culture specific.

Brought to you by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation.

Once again Douglas Adams is proven to have been ahead of his times. Now if that shipment of small lemon-soaked paper napkins would show up...

I believe we learned this lesson already with Clippy.

Chat boys are never helpful.


I want a human to be cheerful. I want a chatbot to be efficient.

What infuriates me about support chat

Me: My order wasn't delivered

Support: Thank you for contacting support. I am sorry you are not having a delightful experience with our service. How can I help?

Me: My order wasn't delivered

Support: Thank you for that. I understand your order wasn't delivered. Is that correct?

Me: Yes

Support: Thank you for that. Please hold while I look it up.

...minutes pass...

Support: What is the order number?

Me: abc123

Support: Thank you for that. I understand your order number is abc123 and you have not received the delivery. Is that correct?

Me: yes

Support: Please wait while I look this up.

...minutes pass...

Support: Thank you for waiting. I'm happy to tell you that your order was delivered on 12/29/22. Is there anything else I can help with?

Me: I did not receive it.

Support: Thank you for that. I understand that you did not receive your order. Is that correct?

Me: Yes

Support: Your order was delivered by UPS on 12/29/22 and was left on your porch. Did you look there?

Me: Yes

Support: Thank you for that. I understand you looked on your porch and did not see it. Is that correct?

Me: Yes

...minutes pass...

Support: Thank you for that. Can you tell me your order number?

You forgot the part where you have to fill in your name/email/contact information to open the chat but then a support person is going to ask you all of that again.

Cheerful chatbots don’t necessarily improve customer service, but at least they are annoying and time wasting, so there's that.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact