Let’s be honest – automated phone menus are a complete nuisance. Button punching, menu prompts, and trying to speak to a robot can sometimes initiate the desire to pull our hair out. As we’re screaming at or speaking slowly to the robotic menu asking for our account number yet again we suppress the need to throw the phone against the wall and we wish there was a better way.
GetHuman.com is the brain child of Paul English who created the database for tips and tricks on how to get around the automated prompts and get straight to a live person. Originally called the IVR Cheat Sheet to Find a Human, the goal was to give consumers an option to get to a live person. Since the inception of the cheat sheet, the website has evolved to GetHuman.com and not only gives you the telephone numbers of companies who do not readily list that on their website, it also gives you the average wait time, as well as the level of service.
Take a look at Facebook – their average wait time is a little over an hour and their user rating is horrible. Clicking on the companies breaks it down further with reviews from users about the company and the customer service experience. There are also alternate numbers for many of the larger companies that insist on continuing to make their users jump through hoops to get some assistance.
It makes you wonder why some companies continue to require customers to navigate their ways through these menus. One argument that large companies make is that they simply handle too large of a customer base to provide a single number for customers, that it’s best to route them to the proper department right away. Except that usually, the initial person that you get at customer service has to transfer you around to a different department.
The biggest offenders of the customer service rule seem to be those companies that typically just want you to contact them for support via email, like Facebook. There are also those companies that simply don’t publish their customer service number online, like Amazon, and GetHuman gives you not just one, but a few customer service numbers.
Large companies may never be able to get rid of automated systems, but they should remember that these systems take away a customer’s choice. (There is a very funny, albeit slightly vulgar cartoon on the Oatmeal about this very subject) If companies are going to force you into a menu option, why can’t they give you an option to go straight through to a representative, at the very least?
We’ve never had an automated menu – if you call either of our numbers, you get a real human right away, and we will never have an automated system – no matter how large we continue to grow. We will simply hire more people.
Should companies completely do away with automated menus or are there instances when they are needed? How do you feel about them, from both a customer standpoint, as well as a business?