Top 7 Ways to Beat Automated Phone Systems
By Steve Kaye
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Many companies save money at the expense of the consumer. For example, 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 make your business different by being approachable.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Complain. Mail the letter that you composed while on hold. Calmly and briefly describe your experience to the customer service representative. (“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.
- Provide courteous service. Hire an operator to answer your phone. This promotes good will, shows that you have employees, and may cost less than the consequences of rotten service. If you must use an automated system, let callers reach an operator from the first menu. The key is to be approachable while offering a variety of options.
- Return phone messages. Voice mail has caused an epidemic of rudeness that hinders progress and destroys trust. Return all calls. It is courteous and enables others to continue with their business.
- Support good companies. Reward courteous service with your business. For example, I switched from AZ&Z to another long distance phone carrier.
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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 http://www.stevekaye.com for a free report.
Article Submitted On: July 05, 2006