Customer Service Help Line Tip

How many times have you been frustrated by automated phone trees that tell you to "press 1 for this, press 2 for that," etc? I know it drives me crazy, especially when none of the options fit the problem I'm calling about.

And I really get ticked off after going through multiple layers of options only to be left on indefinite hold as a looped recording says how important my call is. I know I'm not alone in my frustration.

Well, I have a new favorite Web site, The site lists the phone numbers for hundreds of companies along with procedures for getting to a live person. It may involve pressing certain numbers or keys at the various prompts or simply ignoring the prompts completely. When you try this the first time you might feel that the recommended technique isn't working as the electronic voice repeats its prompts, but hang in there; most of the time you'll eventually get to a live person. didn't work for every company I tested it on, but it did for most. They even provide a rating system that indicates the effectiveness of the recommended procedure. Give it a try the next time you get frustrated by a company's phone tree.

What does this have to do with customer service? Well, I think it's sad that a Web site like needs to exist in the first place. Too many companies have made it nearly impossible to actually talk to someone when you need help.

The height of arrogance are those companies that charge you to speak to a live person regarding a product they sold you! Awhile back I tried to get help with a downloadable software package I purchased that wouldn't install properly. I couldn't get technical help because I neglected to purchase the technical assistance package at an additional fee. I could've "upgraded" when the problem occurred, but I was irritated and refused to be held hostage. I eventually got the software to work, but I'll never again purchase from NCH Software.

So, I hope you find to be useful. But I also hope that all companies constantly review their processes and ask; "Are we designing our processes for our convenience or the customer's?"

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