How to Beat Automated Phone Systems

Jul 12 21:05 2006 Steve Kaye Print This Article

Automated phone systems waste your time. And if you use one for your business they can upset customers. Here's what to do.

Many companies save money at the expense of the consumer. For example,Guest Posting when you phone a business, most likely you'll encounter an automated answering system. Some of these systems cause you to waste time in a labyrinth of menus or they insult you by asking you to converse with a robot.

Here's how to protect your time and reach a person.

1) Work on other tasks. While on hold, read magazines, balance your checkbook, file papers, write a complaint, or search the web for other companies. Purchase a hands-free headset so you can work with both hands.

2) Keep calm. After spending hours pressing buttons, repeating answers to a robot’s questions, and being disconnected, you will feel mad enough to yell at the person who (finally) answers. Instead, talk about the issue that you called about.

3) Try other paths. Respond to system queries by pressing O, OO, O#, or O*. Or, call back and do not press any buttons. The system may assume that you called from a rotary phone and transfer you to an operator. Call other extensions until you reach someone and then ask to be transferred. Be creative. For example, I was able to reach a person at a major phone company (let’s call them AZ&Z) by calling the telephone operator and asking to speak with someone in customer service. (That is, I pressed O instead of dialing the direct number.)

4) Complain. Mail the letter that you composed while on hold. Calmly and briefly describe your experience to the customer service representative. (e.g., "I just waited on hold for two hours and was disconnected three times.") Or be creative. I mailed AZ&Z a bill for the three hours that I spent trying to talk with someone about an error in my bill.

5) Support good companies. Reward courteous service with your business. For example, I switched from AZ&Z to another long distance phone carrier.

Final thought: If your business uses an automated system to answer the phone, make sure that it facilitates the communication necessary to make your business profitable.

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Steve Kaye
Steve Kaye

Steve Kaye helps leaders hold effective meetings. He is an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator, author, and speaker. His meeting facilitation and leadership workshops create success for everyone. Call 714-528-1300 for details. Visit for a free report.

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