The future of customer service? Perhaps it's live chat. AT&T customers can now get help via the Internet. The question: Is it live or . . . something else? Here, a Fast Company correspondent encounters a representative identified as "Pam B." AT&T thoughtfully provided an automated transcript.
Session ID: 411562
"Thank you for contacting AT&T. Your agent is now ready to assist you."
Customer: "Please tell me how much it would cost to get a second line put in, and what do I do to get it done?"
Customer service representative (CSR): "I would be glad to help you with that."
CSR: "Thank you for your patience."
CSR: "To install a second line, there is a charge of $13.50."
Customer: "How is this more efficient than taking my call?"
Customer: "So what do I do?"
CSR: "You need to call 1-866-887-9817, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and request a second line."
Customer: "Hellooooooooooo? Are you human?"
CSR: "I'm sorry, did you not receive my last message?"
Customer: "I did—but are you human or a computer?"
CSR: "To order a second line, you need to call 1-866-887-9817 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday."
Customer: "Hah—you're a computer! Knew it."
CSR: "If you have no further questions, I would like to thank you for using AT&T."
Customer: "I have a question: Why does AT&T pretend I'm chatting with a human?"
CSR: "And I am not a computer. Thank you for using AT&T."
A version of this article appeared in the Table of Contents - April 2004 issue of Fast Company magazine.