Photo (cc) by Elvert Barnes
Today’s calls to customer service remind me of the way I approached algebra homework as a kid – I’d put it off as long as possible because I knew it would take longer than expected and somewhere in the process I’d be throwing my hands up in frustration.
But unlike homework, I’m okay with using “cheats” to get less-frustrating customer service. Things like technology that speeds up hold time and gets you on the phone with a real person instantly. In the following video, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson has a few ideas. Check it out, then read on for more.
Now let’s flesh out those tips and add more…
1. Use GetHuman to directly reach a real person
Phone trees that answer questions with a recorded response are confusing and, if you know you need help from a person, a waste of time. GetHuman reveals the shortest path to reach a live customer service representative. The site has listings for more than 8,000 companies, with solutions provided by customers who have already battled through the phone system.
For example, GetHuman’s search for “Chase credit card” reveals the shortest path to a human is to call the 800 number, enter your credit card number and zip code, then press 0, then 1.
2. Hang up instead of holding with LucyPhone
Once you finally get through to customer service, there’s still the possibility of being stuck on hold. But if you use LucyPhone, you won’t have to wait on the line and listen to elevator music. This free service lets you hang up and get a call back when customer service is on the line.
With LucyPhone’s website or mobile app, you simply search the company you need to contact, and LucyPhone connects you to the customer service line. Once you’re on hold, just hit “**” and hang up. You’ll be free while you wait for the call back from LucyPhone with a customer service agent on the line.
3. Get customer service to call you with FastCustomer
If you don’t want to fight through the phone tree at all, FastCustomer gets a representative to contact you.
Just search for the company you’re looking to contact on their website or using their mobile app, enter your phone number, and FastCustomer will take care of the rest. Their service even lets you know what the current wait time is.
While you can’t reach every business, 3,000-plus companies are available, including Apple, Verizon, Bank of America, and AAA.
4. Text for customer service with TalkTo
Another easy way to avoid waiting on hold? Skip the phone entirely and text instead.
TalkTo is an app that lets you send a text message to any business to complete a wide range of inquiries. Whether it’s asking if an item is in stock or making a dinner reservation, TalkTo can help you handle it using only text messaging.
TalkTo works with any business, whether they’re registered or not. Average response time is five minutes, and as Stacy said in the above video, our test received a response in four. You can even text after-hours and expect a response when the business reopens.
5. Beat the phone trees with a few tricks
You don’t have to use new technology to fight through phone tree options. There are a few basic ways to reach a real person that work with many companies.
First strategy: play dumb. Keep pounding the “0” button on your phone until you get someone on the line. This works almost all the time for me.
Another option: wait to hear the entire list of options rather than choosing the first one that sounds right. Listen for choices that may come near the end and say “for all other questions” or even “tech support.” Even if these don’t get you to the right department, getting a person on the phone often means they can transfer you to the right person.
Some claim success by raising their voice or swearing at the automated system. While this hasn’t been proven to work all the time, it’s worth a try. Besides, it might feel good.
6. Take your problem public on social media
If your efforts on the phone have left you frustrated and without a resolution, try voicing your complaint on social media.
By tweeting the company you’re trying to reach or posting to their Facebook page, it’s possible you’ll get a faster response. Many companies now monitor social media and are eager to avoid potentially viral public relations disasters.
Don’t assume you have to leave a nasty message to get service. A friendly question might be enough to get your problem solved. Some companies are putting more emphasis on responding to customer service questions made on social media with teams set up to handle online questions.
Have you tried any of these services or techniques? Got a particularly frustrating customer service experience to share? We monitor our Facebook page – let us hear from you!