My eyes have been irritated by spring allergies, so I visited my optometrist recently on a busy Saturday morning to see what he would recommend. While sitting in the waiting area, I admired the big, new flat screen television mounted on a side wall. An educational video was playing, and the narrator was explaining how photochromic lenses work. Perfect, I thought. Not only will I get to watch an interesting video about lenses, but I’ll get to observe the reactions of the other patients who were watching.
However, I soon realized that something was wrong. The audio was garbled. There seemed to be two different audio tracks playing at the same time, and neither one was intelligible. Soon, an error message came on the screen saying that there was a syncing problem with the program, and to please contact the operator.
It turned out that I was the only patient who was watching the video. The office staff was busy helping other patients and didn’t seem to notice the problem. After waiting a few minutes, I got the attention of the office manager who thanked me for pointing it out before shutting off the video and making a note to call the vendor.
Coincidentally, the day before my wife received a recorded phone message from her ophthalmologist’s office reminding her of an upcoming appointment. I happened to play the message first, but all I heard was “…we are calling to confirm your appointment on Monday at 11:00 a.m. Please call if you are unable to make it.” The doctor’s name was cut off, as was most of the phone number. Fortunately, I was aware of my wife’s appointment, and was able to deliver the message to her. But if I hadn’t known, we might have had to guess who had left the incomplete message.
We all rely on technology to communicate important messages in our professional and personal lives. But as these two examples show, even the most commonly used communication systems can break down without someone to monitor them. Be sure to spot-check systems once in a while to make sure your message is getting through. Don’t just “set it and forget it.”