Finding a human being to answer your calls

April 25 2007 by Ellen Roseman

Do you dislike Emily, the interactive voice response (IVR) system at 310-BELL? What about the no-name Rogers Guy? Why is it impossible to press zero and get a human?

Check out the Get Human website run by volunteers who want to improve the quality of phone support in the United States. There’s a blog, discussion forum and hot consumer news (such as pending bills in five U.S. states, addressing the need for callers to bypass the automated system and connect to a live operator).

There’s also a standard for how customer service phone systems and support should work. Most companies in its GetHuman 500 database are American, but you can find tips for making a real connection at a few domestic firms (including Air Canada).

Here are some ways to cut through the computer to reach a human at the other end:

Interrupt. Press 0 (or 0# or #0 or 0* or *0) repeatedly, sometimes quickly. Unfortunately the same keystroke does not always work for each company. Many IVRs will connect to a human after a few “invalid entries”, although some IVRs will hangup.

Talk. Say “get human” (or “agent” or “representative”) or raise your voice, or just mumble. The IVR might connect you to a human after one of these key or unknown phrases.

Just hold, pretending you have only an old rotary phone.

Connect to account collections or sales or account cancellation; they always seem to answer quickly. First ask them for their name and rep number (so they know you are writing it down, and thus, so they are more likely to help you.) Then ask them to transfer you to the department you need. Sometimes they will put you ahead of the queue, although sometimes they will send you to the end (and thus, in those cases, this tip is useless).

Toll call. For credit cards, if the expected wait time is too long, hangup and try to call back on their non-toll-free number, as they often have shorter queues.

Selecting the option for Spanish will sometimes get you a bilingual human more quickly than if you just waited for an English-only operator.

When you do finally find a human, ask them how to connect directly the next time (in case your call gets disconnnected).

1 comment

  1. Seeram Deonarine

    Apr 28 2007

    This is just an inquiry to find out what do you know about Auto Shield (aftermarket auto warranty).
    The reason for this inquiry is that I bought a new vehicle 4 yrs ago with an additional 4yr warranty by Auto Shield which the dealer was promoting strongly, now that I require service no one wants to accept this warranty.
    I would appreciate any help with this problem.

    Thank You,
    Seeram Deonarine