Tuesday 25 May 2010

Zero, Hash, and repeat to avoid those effin telephone robots

This is an old trick I learnt years ago, and I share this on the proviso that you don't tell anyone else. Certainly not your local Councillor or MP.

It's works a treat and will improve the quality and sanity of your life, guaranteed. In fact, I really should demand a donation to the CairnsBlog Defamation Fund in exchange for giving out such life-changing tips. I feel a Hillsong moment coming on.

So here it is.

When telephoning those corporate giants, especially the large utility companies like Telstra, Ergon, your favourite bank, internet company, etc, there's always the dam automated answering service. Always.

"Hello, welcome to XYZ, your call is important to us. To put your call through to the right department, we first need to ask you a few questions.....blaa, blaa, blaa."

By this stage you are already shouting at the phone, "just give me a person to speak with!"

It goes on...

"If you'd like accounts and payable press 1, repairs and sausages press 2, emergency rabbit stew press 3, your favourite recipe press 4, anything else that we can't think of right now press 5.. or stay on the line and we'll read this list out again..."

There's then often a series of secondary menus, asking more and more details. However, loyal CairnsBlog buddies, do not fear, help is at hand.

These automated computer answering systems are all manufactured in the same Zing Pow Ding Chinese factory in Ghangzou province. They all have the "0" (zero) and the "#" (hash) keys programmed as overrides. This means that you can bypass those silly menu systems, that rarely have any effect where you call is directed. If you do get to a wrong department, the human can transferred and often provide a direct number.

Telstra also have a voice activated system, where you are meant to speak what you want, invariably this is worse than pushing a series of 22 different keys in order to get a human on the other end.

Nevertheless, the "zero" "hash" option (and in that order), is almost 100% effective. You will have to repeat it a number of times, and the system will eventually realise you're not playing their silly talky game. For instance, the first time you press the "0" then "#" (hash is recognised as a close or end of instruction key), you will hear a "sorry, that is not a valid option..." or some such. Simply ignore that and persist on repeatedly pushing the two keys, and in a few short secs, you'll get the magic sweet smell of chocolate telephony...

"Okay, we'll just put you through to one of our operators.."

Well, that's what we wanted when we called in the first place.

Some large companies are getting the message that we not only detest these systems, but they turn people off so much, that it's enough to change to another company. Having a human answer your call immediately, really isn't that difficult. We used to do it ion the good ol days. Some now not only answer the call, they do the redirecting or even, god forbid, answer your question and look into your account enquiry. I have to say, our very own Cairns Regional Council's customer service department, have real live humans (not locked in a cage or anything : hi Josh!) that answer the phone.

So next time you confront one of these beasts, try it. Those bloody awful automated telephone answering systems are a pain in the arse. You'll thank me for making your life a little happier and more fulfilling. Praise be to your God. Amen.


Joe from Clifton Beach. said...

Actually, if you press nothing at all, yes press nothing at all, this will do the same thing but faster. Pressing nothing at all takes you to the front of the default queue. Yes I've worked in the call centre 'industry' for 11 years. You may though end up in the wrong area so you may then get transfered, this may take longer than pressing the buttons as asked.

Lillian at Yorkeys said...

I have a friend who has devised another method - when they're asking "is that Cairns you're calling from/did you want to speak with the Sausage Department/did your mother actually have a maiden name she'd own up to (etc.)" - he growls. Yep, just growls. The system can hear a voice, can't read it, through to operator.

Although I usually do try & press buttons, until my sanity forbids it, I have used growling method a couple of times, & it does work.

Shane Crocker said...

You can’t beat a good urban myth, can you?
I put my money the comment from “Joe from Clifton Beach.”
Just pressing the buttons as asked will get you to the right area faster than any so-called secret methods doing the rounds of the Internet.
The reason these stories got around in the first place is because people are ignorant of technology and this creates fear, apprehension and paranoia.
The people who write these emails cynically exploit these fears and apprehensions.