Avoid Voice Menu Mazes

Category: Voice Response

Are you one of those people who hates Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems - otherwise known as "voice mail jail"? Automated voice menu systems can be annoying, frustrating, and time-wasting. It is especially irritating when a voice-recognition system "didn't understand your request" and makes you repeat yourself in an ever louder voice. Wouldn't it be great to cut through the maze of options and get a live human being on the line? It can be done in many cases, if you push the right buttons or say the right words...

How to Bypass Voice Menus and Reach a Live Operator

Avoiding Voice Mail Menus In many cases, pressing the zero button at every prompt will soon get the point across that you want an "operator". In IVR systems, repeating the word "operator" may have the same effect. If the IVR system says it doesn't understand "operator" try "live help." Often, the thing will give up and say, "OK, let me connect you to a customer service representative" or something similar.

There are some tricks, though, for bypassing the robo-attendant, and getting connected to a real person. If you bank with Bank of America, press the zero key twice after the first recitation of the voice menu options and you will be connected to a live human being. If you bank with Chase, press 5 and wait a moment; then press 1, 4, and zero.

A number of Web sites let frustrated callers share the tricks they have learned for cutting through the voice menu mazes of major companies. GetHuman.com is one example. The magic sequence of keys to get a live human being at Comcast, for example, is "Press the # key at all prompts; say 'no' three times".

GetHuman.com also lists the "top secret magic phone numbers" that are answered by live humans always, although it can take a while. The average wait time for Verizon Wireless is 12.5 minutes, according to reports from GetHuman.com users. As they say in coffee shop lines, "You'll get fast, friendly service no matter how long it takes."

Here's a neat trick: pretend that you speak Spanish, then change your mind. Press the key to select voice menu prompts in Spanish, then say you don't speak Spanish, in English. Most systems will transfer you to a live person who speaks English (although there may be a foreign accent). The trick is to get yourself into the shorter line of Spanish-speaking callers who need live help; they don't have to wait as long as the English speaking majority.

Web-Based Services That Can Help

Fonolo is a free Web-based service that does "deep dialing" for you, connecting you directly to the option in an IVR menu that you want with just one click of your mouse. You don't have to wait while voice menu options are recited or press multiple keys to get to the key that you need. There is also an iPhone app that does Fonolo deep dialing. For companies that use IVR systems, Fonolo sells an enterprise software system that adds deep dialing functionality for frequent callers' convenience.

Oh, and if do finally reach a live operator, and end up getting put on hold, the LucyPhone service can help. Lucy is a free service that connects you to the number you want, and if you get put on hold, just press "**". Your call will be disconnected but Lucy will stay on the line, patiently waiting on your behalf. When the operator returns, Lucy calls you back and reconnects you to the conversation.

Voice menu mazes and annoying "on hold" situations can be trimmed with these tricks, saving you time and frustration.

Do you have something to say about how to avoid voice mail menus and connect with a live operator? Post your comment or question below…

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Posted by Bob Rankin on June 16, 2010 04:03 PM

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Article information: All About Voicemail -- Avoid Voice Menu Mazes (Posted: June 16, 2010 04:03 PM)
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- Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved