The phone you have at work probably sucks
Friday, November 11, 2005 3:04:37 PM
You know- the corporate phone systems that are one part giganctic poorly labeled phone, and one part number memorizing voice mail system? The phones have half the UI taken up with "speed dial" numbers that I've never seen anyone use. Who doesn't have Outlook open and look up numbers there? Nobody wants to take the time to program the numbers into speed dail. Even if they did, how many people know how to do that?
Why do we need complex instructions, crib notes and cheat sheets just to use our phones? I asked around the office one day. The secretary was the only one who knew how to forward a call using whatever hardward/software phone system we had. Lots of people thought they knew- but basically no one did. One guy referred to his cheat sheet sitting next to him to rattle of the answer. I asked him if he used it, he said "I would like to, but it's always difficult to look up the process when I'm in the middle of a call." What is going on here? Who thought it was a good idea to randomly assign a number to important features? Is it "3#" to forward or "#3"? How much has your employer paid for a phone system that has all these bells and whistles, and you can't forward a call?
I came back from lunch one time, there was a coworker sitting near my work area (since it was quite I guess) dailed into a conference call and had it set on speaker phone. I didn't mind him using my phone, I just asked him to take the phone off speaker. This began an interesting exchange as he told the parties on the line very cautiously "Alright- I'm going to take you off speakerphone- if I drop off, I'll dial back in.."
First off, should we all be this cautious and concerned over operating a phone call? The tone of his voice might have led you to believe he was saying "I'm about to cut the red wire..."
So he reaches for the big read "speaker" button, and... understanding some quirks of the system, I stopped him midway: "that's going to drop the call- you have to hit the big button on the cradle." Understandably, he questioned me thus: "no.. that hangs up the call, the speaker button toggles speaker on and off."
It makes sense. When you put the handset on the cradle, it kills the call, so I would have thought the exact same thing had I not been to the school of hard knocks myself on this very subject. Why switch the way we think about this stuff. In short, I recall he dropped the call and had to dial back because of a poorly designed phone that was designed with little thought of how we use the phone.
Note- I'm combining experiences and stories from about 4 different jobs. It doesn't matter though, since everywhere I've worked, it's been the same story.