I called AT&T to unlock my decommissioned phone, and I was greeted by a pleasant computer voice. He said I could speak to him in complete sentences, and ask him anything.
"I want to unlock my phone." He sent me a text with instructions on how to make this request on their website. The reason I was calling in the first place is because my online request was denied. Their circular service model appears to be build around discouraging me from unlocking my phone.
I told him that I had already tried the website and that I needed to speak to an operator. After both my requests, he said, "Hang on while I check on that." And then I could hear typing on the phone. At first, I thought how stupid do they think I am that this computer is actually typing, but then I realized, silence would be worse.
This simple skeuomorph was well conceived. To fill the silence, they needed something that signaled we're making progress. The typing sound does exactly that.
A minor annoyance that happens often is when someone sees me in the hallway and asks, "Did you get my email?" I find it frustrating on two levels:
- I'm not in my email all day. I check it at multiple times a day, but I try not to be distracted by every message as they arrive.
- They know the email in their heads, but often that basic question isn't enough to trigger the topic they want to discuss.
I've learned this question comes from a void that individual is feeling. They know they sent the request, but now they are just hearing silence. So lately, I'm borrowing from AT&T, and I'm providing my own typing sounds to reassure email senders that things are moving forward.
- "Great question. Let me look into it, and I'll get back to you shortly."
- "That's a good idea. Give me a couple of days to think about it."
- "I'm on it. I'll update you once I know more."
- "Thanks for sharing."