Sheriff scuttling robot receptionist

Automated attendant gives way to humans
Jun. 05, 2014 @ 08:10 AM

Soon, no one calling the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office will have to navigate an automated answering system before they get to talk to a human.

The system, purchased in October 2008 from Voyss Solutions in Hickory for $40,049.48, uses a programmable automated attendant to answer each call and give the caller options to press on the phone keypad to reach various departments in the sheriff's office, Capt. B.J. Fore said.

"The system was put in to be more efficient for the public but is more frustrating for the public and does not provide good customer service," he said. "We still get a lot of emergency calls through the main number from folks who are frustrated by the time it gets answered by a person."

Fore and Communications Director Carla Bates told the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners about the system's failings Tuesday. The subject came up as an aside at a budget workshop, but Fore and Bates were so unequivocal that the system didn't work, the commissioners voted unanimously to authorize Sheriff Alan Jones to pull the plug. Fore and Bates told the commissioners that the system makes many people frustrated, so they often either leave angry voice mails or find their way through the system to the dispatchers anyway.

Once the system is turned off, all calls will soon be handled through the department's communications center. The date for that happening had not been determined Wednesday, said LouAnne Kincaid, Caldwell County public information officer.