Finding a real person when contacting customer service

Novatel  4080 MiFi hotspotConsumer Reports tell us that organizations rarely listen to the surveys they ask when we hear the infamous, “Your call is very important to us. Please don’t hang up.” So why do they insult us and make us want to throw our phones across the room as we try to make our way through the maze of the company phone tree?

Getting through to a real person is the number one complaint of customers who either need help with their service or product or have a complaint. We know that businesses save money by using these automated systems, but the hopelessly long menus can rile even the most patient consumer. Naturally getting through to a live person may not guarantee that they are going to solve our problem, but at least it’s one step closer to an imagined solution than just pressing buttons.

Mark Kotkin, director of Consumer Reports states people spend good money purchasing merchandise or signing up for services, and want someone to pay attention to them when they have a problem.

Two weeks ago, when I signed up for Comcast as my phone provider, high-speed Internet provider and cable television provider, the sales representative answered the phone within 30 seconds. I was guided through a huge choice of services – all by a human and with an explanation of each service. The sales representative tried to sign me up for services I didn’t need or understand, so after approximately 15 minutes, my new account was formed and due to be activated the day of my home move and promised by the representative to be ready and available the day scheduled.

Of course that didn’t happen, and so the maze of hitting buttons and frustration began; I just wanted someone to help me with my problem. Unfortunately the solution to getting my account activated wasn’t going to happen that day; somehow my order went to the bottom of the pile, and by the time I finally reached a supervisor’s supervisor, I was exhausted and not introduced to Comcast in a positive manner.

Now that I’ve had some time and advice on how to fight one’s way through the telephone robotic customer service conundrum, I can always refer to Get2Human.com, GetHuman.com, or Fonolo.com. Its database of phone numbers and codes for more than 1000 major companies can cut down the frustration factor, however there were no suggested shortcuts suggested for governmental agencies or mortgage companies!

So if you’re frustrated with trying to get through to a human, perhaps some of these hints will help:

  • Press 0 or 0# or #0 to get through to a live person.
  • Don’t press any numbers. The system may recognize you as a rotary phone user and connect you to a live person.
  • Show stress in your voice. Some systems are designed to pick up the stress tension of your voice.
  • As you wind your way through the options – for example Press 1 for billing, Press 2 for locating a store – listen to all of the options first before pressing. Sometimes at the end the option will say to stay on the line, and a real person will answer.
  • Choose “tech support” or another specialized option where you will most likely reach a live person and then can get transferred to an appropriate department.
  • Google your problem first. Many times the answer is on the Internet.
  • Don’t be rude once you get a live person.
  • Use Facebook and Twitter to fight back. Companies see their complaints brought to the public quickly and are much more motivated to get in touch with someone having a legitimate customer service problem.

And when all else fails – look at Consumerist and see if customer service executives of the company you’re trying to reach are listed. It’s just another way shoppers can fight back.

photo credit: CalEvans