Message in the bank worthless

April 01, 2017

Sometimes phone messages get lost in translation especially when using the the speech-to-text function.

Normally I use this column space to go on a rant about politics or the environment but I’ve taken a more light-hearted attack at phone communication today.

In particular, people who use the message bank option which gives you 10 seconds to speak and then converts your message to a text.

I know they don’t realise it; maybe they’re good people — I don’t know

But when you make a lot of phone calls every day, nothing makes your heart sink more than hearing that you have 10 seconds to leave a message.

The system doesn’t work.

Ten seconds is only enough time to blurt out your name and a number and you are just hoping the voice-to-text picks it up correctly.

If you try to utter a sentence it always cuts you off and I’m sceptical about how accurate the translation is.

The dial tone finishes then the dreaded robotic voice-over drills you and it’s like you’re being rushed through it — and if you get tongue tied or run out of time, that will come through in the text.

If you have an uncommon or difficult name, good luck getting it translated accurately.

A colleague of mine has resorted to using their more ‘‘conventional’’ last name rather than their first name in order to avoid any confusion that comes with the replying phone call.

I’m not even sure how ‘Declan’ converts because if by chance someone using the system calls back, my name generally doesn’t get mentioned.

Even if it converts the words correctly, people might just ignore the message because it’s too vague or impersonal.

When you are calling people out of the blue you want to pitch a real message about why you are calling them, not just your name and number.

Most people in the office look at you a bit weirdly when you are recording the speech-to-text message as well, because the volume of your voice goes up when you are trying to be clear and talk in a stern tone.

Often I find the people who use this message bank function are older people who didn’t grow up with technology and probably aren’t all that savvy when it comes to texting in the first place.

It’s probably the default function of their phone — in which case, it’s the telcos who are to blame.

Declan Martin is a News journalist.

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