Cut Through Phone Menus and IVRs with Style

Not every tip or trick is about helping you look good, smell good, know the difference between good food and bad food, or good drinks and bad drinks. I know where you’re coming from – if we all had the time to spend learning about the things we want to know about, you wouldn’t need my help with the whole classy thing, right?

Well, I can help you save time as well as spend a little of your brightness on the other things like food, dress, and lifestyle. Like most people, I absolutely hate the prospect of having to call a major company for just about any reason, knowing I’ll probably be on hold for ages waiting for someone to pick up and then ask me all of the questions I probably had to feed to an IVR (an Interactive Voice Response system) just to get into the hold queue.

So here’s the trick – there are a couple of ways to cut through IVRs and other voice menus. You can either just know all of the buttons to press to get to where you want to go (because let’s be clear – “please listen carefully as our menu has changed” is a dirty lie – your options never, ever, ever change. Every time someone cheap oakley sunglasses calls they hear the menu might be different – it’s never different.) or you can just cut through the crap to begin with. Here’s how:

  • GetHuman is an amazing Web repository of toll-free customer service numbers for companies around the world along with their menu and IVR options. Just search for the company you’re going to call before you do, and as soon as you’re presented with “press or say one for whatever,” you immediately know which button to press or thing to say to get to the category you want to get to, or you know what button to press or thing to say to cut through the entire menu and get right to the hold queue.

    The real value in GetHuman is in having a way to cut through the menus quickly and easily and get to the person you want to get to, even if it’s a matter of hurrying up to wait. Best of all, GetHuman has toll-free customer service numbers for companies that go to great lengths to hide their numbers from their customers. Remember back in the day when Amazon only listed their toll-free number on the page you see after you’ve placed an order and then nowhere else on the site? GetHuman was one of the first pages to publish it openly and force Amazon to actually start talking to their customers more openly.

  • Fonolo on the other hand is a service that aims to give you your time back by not even connecting you to the offending 800 number until there’s a person on the line or about to be on the line. The service asks you who you want to call, what your telephone number is, and will walk you through the process of navigating their menus and IVRs online so you don’t have to wait on the phone, spending time and money with a phone to your ear just pressing buttons and waiting on hold.

    Once the service is through the menus and the hold music, and once someone is either on the other end from the company you want to call or is about to be (as in, it’s ringing through), Fonolo then calls you, so your phone rings, you pick it up, and you’re talking right to someone else from the company you need to speak with. No waiting on hold, no dealing with menus, nothing.

    Fonolo is still a relatively new service (it’s been around for a few years, but has only worked with certain services) but it’s growing all the time and works exceptionally well with the services it supports. You would think that businesses would hate a service like Fonolo, but in reality a number of them partner cheap oakleys with the service to offer so-called “deep dialing,” which means that you tell the company on the Web exactly who you want to talk to, and the service will then connect you directly with that department’s phone queue – it saves you time and money, it avoids mis-transfers and cold-handoffs by the company, and overall it increases customer satisfaction when they have to interact with the company’s customer service department.

Both of these services are designed to save you time, save you money, and save you energy that you would most likely put into something else. And I wouldn’t blame you – I have those days frequently where every moment counts and every few minutes matters – if I spend 15 minutes on hold waiting for someone to answer my question about something, that’s 15 minutes I don’t get to spend doing something else or learning about something new that interests me.

So here’s my bargain with you – you take these two services and use them as much as you like: and spend the extra time you get here, picking up some other new skills and information that’ll make your life that much better, okay? Deal.






3 responses to “Cut Through Phone Menus and IVRs with Style”

  1. pastilla Avatar

    I like this; a classy geek is definitely someone who find ways to simplify the ways technology has made life more complicated.

    Can’t wait to try this (hope it works in Canada).

  2. Deinera Avatar

    Considering how often (recently) I’ve had to spend on the phone trying to navigate the ridiculous menus, I’m very thankful for this. I hope that this helps many other people avoid the mounting frustration of having to listen to menu after menu (hoping that you hear the option you need and sometimes never hearing it at all) and get right to a person.

    Thank you!

  3. sjon Avatar

    The messages on the telephone company board do change regular here. The basic menu stays the same. But they automatically adjust the deeper menu structure to make the most common questions come up on shorter menu-paths.
    And the most common questions change with time.

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