How to Take Control of Telephone Customer Service
Phony sweetness in a recorded voice instructs you to press a number in a long list of numbers.You have to listen to the whole interminable message, hoping to hear an option that matches the reason you are calling, and the chances are that if you are calling with a question, there won’t be anything close.You just want to talk to a live person, that’s all.But they’re not telling you how to do that.Pressing a button takes you to another recorded menu.The recorded menus take you to recorded information.If you press the wrong buttons, you will never get to a human being, and you’ll be stuck in a dead end of the system.Now, you have to call back and trudge through the nightmarish process all over again, trying to be smarter than the recordings.
Everyone hates it, and yet more and more companies are turning their backs on you by doing this.Your personal issues with their products are a liability that they want to remove, so part of the solution is to put you in a room with little recorded farm animal toys.Sometimes, it works.The first time you hear something, it may be something you didn’t already know.But if you ever have to call back a second time, it is nothing useful any more, and in fact has now become liability, wasting more and more of your time.
Fortunately, you can take control of telephone customer service, known as automated voice response (AVR) systems.This article will give you some tools to empower you.
Workarounds are ways you can simply bypass a known problem.For example, if there is a pothole in the road, one workaround is to turn the wheel to steer around it.For AVR systems, there are several workarounds you can try first.There are two sets of circumstances for these workarounds.First is that the system you have reached is keypad-only.For systems that attempt to sound like real caring people who want you to talk to them, skip ahead to The Empathetic and Fun Monstrosity (EFM) Workaround.For the keypad only systems, do the following:
Press The 0 Key
Press the 0 key once you start hearing the recorded message.If it fails to change the message, move on to the next workaround.If it scolds you and repeats the same recording over again, you have met an enemy system
Many systems are simply numeric, and 0 is the Operator, which is friendly and intuitive.Most AVR systems started out this way, as an aid to those who have called for the first time, so that the most common calling concerns were explained, and those questions could be directed to specialists.But somewhere along the way, they didn’t like you doing that because general operators have to be people who get paid hourly, and that gets messy.So they made their own workarounds, and removed or hid the option to press zero.
Listen for the Number of an Option to Speak to a Representative
Sometimes, the system’s designers didn’t want to outright bully you, so the option is there, but they changed the number.If you hear it, then just press that number.More often, now, however, you will find systems so hostile and adversarial that you will not be given the option of speaking to a person.For these malignant cancers on corporate ethics, move to the next workaround.
Do Not Press Any Key
By not interacting with the system at all, most remaining systems will be forced to send you to an actual person to find out why you are calling.This is likely a remnant of those days when rotary telephone systems were still in place everywhere, and there are probably laws to mandate the inclusion of such functionality.If this workaround fails, then you are probably not dealing with a very reputable company, since they are possibly using illegal tools to deny customer access.
The Empathetic and Fun Monstrosity (EFM) Workaround
These abominations have no equal in the annals of horror.You’re not merely an inconvenience to the company, but you are so mentally deficient you will not notice that you are not actually speaking to a human being, but merely a recorded message.The solution is very simple at this point: remain quiet.If you are in a loud place, put your phone on mute, as even ambient noise, especially when using a cellular telephone, can register as a statement to the idiotic system, and it will interrupt itself to tell you that it couldn’t understand you.The system will still do this if you say nothing, and maybe a few times, but then it will feign impatience and transfer you to a person.I don’t know how much longer these systems will even have this option.