Beyond the script

P1000277 (2)
Rice flour pattern on the road outside a house, Tamil Nadu.

I had just arrived in India, and wanted to check some details of my cellphone roaming plan. So I decided to use the online chat. I am used to highly scripted interactions with live help online, which give me the feeling that the responses are probably automated. But this chat went further, as you can see with me as Visitor-2057187614-31198:

Keval (12:28): Hi, You’re chatting with Keval, how can I help you today ?
Visitor (12:30): I am in India on the $5 a day roaming, and wanted to check whether people in Australia have to pay anything extra to call me?
Keval (12:31): Sure I will be glad to help you with this Hilary.
Keval (12:31): Glad to know that you are using the $5 roaming services.
Keval (12:32): So people from Australia can call for free they will not be charged anything extra.
Visitor (12:32): Thanks Keval, that’s all I wanted to check!
Visitor (12:32): Bye
Keval (12:32): No worries.
Keval (12:32): Where in India are you?
Visitor (12:32): Vellore
Keval (12:33): Okay we are also based in India in Mumbai.
Visitor (12:33): Unfortunately I won’t get there this time! But I’m enjoying the food in Tamil Nadu…
Keval (12:34): That’s great Food is really good climate is little hot right now but at night its pretty much Cool.
Visitor (12:35): True and we weren’t expecting this much rain, but it’s all part of the travel experience!
Keval (12:35): Yes that is correct.
Keval (12:35): I hope you enjoy your trip in India and next time do come to Mumbai as well
Visitor (2:36): Thanks!
Keval (12:36): Is there anything else I can assist you with today?
Visitor (12:36): That’s it thanks. Bye for now.
Keval (12:36): Thanks for chatting. Please click “end chat” when you’re ready, afterwards you may receive a survey about our chat today. We value your feedback and will appreciate your response.

I gave him excellent feedback. At first I had wondered if the chat was an extension of the usual script, with deliberately up-to-date informal language (a sentence starting with ‘so’,  his use of ‘no worries’). Perhaps my location in India had some implication for the roaming plan? But then I realised he really was just chatting – there were clues in his seemingly random use of capital letters and missing ‘the’. I don’t know if Keval has ever seen The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, when Judi Dench’s character tells an IT company’s help desk staff how to make customers feel like real people, but I think he definitely nailed it.