But I Just Want to Talk to a Human

More

Everyone is familiar with this routine: "Agent! Agent!" you shout into your phone. A bot responds, "I'm sorry. I didn't quite catch that. Did you say purchase tickets?" Nooooooo. Add to this the time you'll spend on hold, and you have that special combination that is modern, automated customer service.

Companies know we hate this, but it's too expensive for them to offer better real-human access. For a few select products, real, live humans are now a selling point for consumer products. For example, a new Chase credit card is now offering "a person, not a prompt," immediately available on its customer service for its Sapphire card. No pressing pound repeatedly, no yelling at a robot. 

But Chase is unusual. Most companies bury their human agents underneath layers of choose-your-own-adventure dialing. If you want to find a warm-blooded person, the website gethuman.com keeps tabs on the best numbers, email addresses, and call-back systems for nearly 8,000 companies. Unfortunately, for many of these numbers, you'll still get stuck on hold for a while. 

Our best line of defense against the customer-service robots? More robots. Apps such as FastCustomer and LucyPhone can place calls to customer-service centers, wait on hold for you, and then call you back when an agent is on the line. 

And here are some pictures of how happy costumer-service agents would be, if they could only talk to us:


Image: Ocacia/Shutterstock.

Update 2:01 pm: Commenter Lucyphone points out below that they have partnered up with GetHuman, so you can get a call back directly through gethuman.com.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Sad Desk Lunch: Is This How You Want to Die?

How to avoid working through lunch, and diseases related to social isolation.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In