Destined for Extinction?

A colleague recently posted an interesting article link on our national trade association’s list serve, “9 Careers on the Way Out, ”

#3 caught my attention, needless to say. “Telephone operator” could mean different things, receptionist at an office, agent at a call center, etc. Whatever the meaning, I took the post to heart.

Technology is great, but how many times have you groaned to yourself when you’ve been presented with a multi-menu option voicemail system and none of the options meet your current need? You press “0” hoping to speak to a person, only to find that that really isn’t an option – it’s almost like the company does not want you to speak directly with a person. Or what do you do when you call a company listed on and hear a recording to leave your name and telephone number? Do you leave your information and wait for a return call or do you keep calling other companies listed until a person answers?

While automation has its place – I like checking my balance or finding telephone numbers and directions on line – I wholeheartedly believe that nothing will ever replace talking to a human being.  People like talking to people.  It’s an opportunity to build trust.  Automation cannot effectively assist someone with chest pains or a home owner with water gushing from a busted pipe or a participant, with questions,  wanting to register for an upcoming seminar or an apartment resident with no air conditioning in 90 degree weather…I think you understand my point.  In this day of hi-tech, there is still a basic need for hi-touch, a human touch.  Those businesses that differentiate themselves from others are the ones that understand that providing a live voice on the phone is a tremendous ROI.  As Keith Ferrazzi’s tagline says, “Business is human.  Relationships Power Growth.”  (visit his website,, building relationships is his passion).

Access to a real person for any customer is the key to an on-going successful business relationship. I don’t think “Telephone Operator” will be on the extinct list anytime soon.


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