The Illusion of Trustworthy Technology
Systems crash. Networks break. Calls drop.
On Surf Day we put severe strains on the technology we depend on at both ends of the phone queue: the software and servers used by the reservations team at Tricom, and the hundreds of phones and cell networks we all use to connect to the reservations team.
At the reservations site, the phone answering system is robust. It’s thoroughly stress-tested before Surf Day and has been shown to easily handle the many hundreds of calls it’s bombarded with at 7:00 am on Surf Day, from 250+ owners, their families, and their friends.
Each call is answered with an automated message (female voice) and put into a holding queue with a time-stamp, where it is reliably held until it is picked up by a live person at the reservations desk. The system can be programmed to inform callers of their position** in the queue. And there’s the rub: calls have to stay connected until they are answered–and that can be a challenge in a queue that’s hundreds of callers long.
At the owner end, calls drop. That’s a fact. Every year, callers wait patiently, hopefully, in the phone queue, listening to poor quality sound of questionable musical taste, waiting to hear a real live person only to hear “Your call cannot be completed…” or worse, just silence. You’ve just lost your position in the phone queue.
Where’s the problem? What’s the solution? We’ve looked at the logs on the Tricom system and found no evidence of problems at that end, so we can only speculate that the phone carrier lost the connection, either by design (too long on hold) or or a network timeout/overload/error.
** The most promising option this writer has seen so far is to further automate the answering system along the following lines: prompt the caller to enter their owner number using the keypad; prompt for one or more callback numbers, again using the keypad; require the caller to confirm or reenter the numbers; hang up. Such systems exist, but they are expensive and it doesn’t appear to be possible to rent them for just one day. But we’ll keep looking.
Let me appeal to any owners who may know of such one-day systems to contact the Board or Tricom. There’s got to be a better yet affordable way to handle the phones on Surf Day.