Thursday, 11 November 2010

Thought Picnic: Outsourced Hearing

Account locked

In performing a portal update last night I could not complete a particular action the result of which locked out my account and almost terminated all activity.

So, I sent an email to our support personnel and in the morning received a response to call a support line to have my account unlocked.

As usual, you call the number; I was given options for Dutch or English and then other options about what service I required. As a manic depressive, I pushed buttons jumping through menus like negotiating obstacles in a medieval quest for the damsel in distress.

Sounds unintelligible

Then, I heard a voice, an interactive voice, maybe human, probably not human because I did not catch anything the person said. I thought I heard another language, when the sound came again, the phonetics sounded like English but an audio tape running at triple speed.

He was asking for my first name and last name in English, he couldn’t be, but he was.

Now, English is my first language but this one threw me completely and every other sentence I heard left me almost flummoxed. It was nothing to do with the accent but I would suppose it had to do with the speed at which words are spoken in the speaker’s main language.

I found I could not ask for him to speak more slowly as I would have asked people to when trying to converse in Dutch or German, it left me feeling strange.

Something else in operation

I did get my account unlocked and when he asked if I needed anymore help, even if I did, I wanted this uncomfortable conversation to end and he him, it always ends quickly because of the speed at which his words are spoken.

For me, it was the first time I really felt the impact of having my hearing outsourced, because the social consequence of outsourcing is not so much that of cost but that a natural function is given to a foreign organ to manage, support and operate.

In this case, the management was fine, the support worked but in operation, I can only wonder how well others who have English as a second language would have fared on trying to unlock their accounts.

They might well have asked for the speech to slowed down to Morse code and even if he were to do that, it is unlikely we would have kept up.

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