Get Through to Customer Service

November 25, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Tired of the automated runaround when calling customer service? You just have to know how to push the right buttons. Busy Clovis mom Angie Wilcox says there's never enough time in the day so wasting it on the phone trying to get through to customer service is infuriating: "I put it off and I proscrastinate for as long as possible because I know it's gonna be miserable and I'm going to be on the phone forever and I don't have time to be on the phone forever."

As companies cut back in this recession more of them are using automated systems to deal with customers. It's costing them less money, but costing consumers their patience. Angie: "It makes you want to move your service, it makes you want to change providers."

We told Angie about www.gethuman.com a website listing nearly 1400 companies, their customer service numbers, shortcuts to getting a live person on the phone, and the average wait time.

Some of the inside information come from customer service reps themselves. Angie: "I love that, it's like a secret little code!"

For Comcast it says you need to press * # at each prompt, ignoring the messages. Or don't press anything at all, and after three "no responses," the system will put you through to a live person.

For Cigna pressing # # or saying "associate" at each prompt is supposed to get you through.

Angie was eager to try it on PG&E.

First without the website's help, navigating PG&E's phone system took 6-1/2 minutes.

Then with the shortcuts she shaved two minutes off the call. Not a huge difference, but Angie says every minute counts.

I tried the shortcuts for my Citi card and got a customer service rep in 49 seconds! That's lightning fast in the customer service world!

Twitter is being touted as the next big thing in customer service, as a way for companies to directly and quickly respond to their customers via the internet. A lot of big-name companies are now using Twitter for customer service. But like any new technology, it's a work in progress. After all, solving a technical problem in 140 characters or less, is pretty hard.

So if you're sticking to the old fashioned way of calling customer service... Some other tips:

Avoid calling on a Monday.

If you have the option to call at an odd hour, do so.

And when you finally do get a live person on the line, ask them how to get directly to them for the next time you call or if you get disconnected.


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