Idol Thoughts, Phone Strategies
Wednesday - March 29, 2006
All right. I admit it. I am now sort of hooked on American Idol. I know, I know, after the things I said about it (I was right, though, Simon was nasty!) I have people saying to me, “I know you don’t watch American Idol, but ...”
Well, Simon apologized to Mandisa for crudely ridiculing her weight, so I think it’s OK to forgive him. She did, after all. (And she’s stupendous, don’t you think?)
But now I am having real problems with Paula. Whenever I see her do that stiff-armed clap I cringe. Why can’t she applaud like ordinary folk? We get it, Paula, you liked the performer. You like every performer.
And when she opens her mouth to speak - yeaacchh. America finds itself bathing in syrupy goo. Does this woman know she is single-handedly elevating the inane cult of fake self-esteem to breathtaking - and breathlessly cloying - new heights? News flash, Paula: If you like everybody, your approval is meaningless. Good thing for DVR. That fast forward button lets me speed right through the gushy Paula, straight to the acidic yet refreshingly honest Mr. Cowell.
Why am I watching? It reminds me of when I was in the school choir in seventh grade. I, too, had fantasies of being a great singer. I would daydream about it all the time. But when I speculated out loud that I might be chosen to perform a solo in the choir, my little sister Debbie looked at me in wide-eyed shock.
“You?! A solo?” she choked, her voice shrill with disbelief. And then she giggled. Gee, thanks, Simon-Debbie. You single-handedly blew any illusions I may have had about a career in show biz.
Now I’m going to do something I never do. I am going to pass on something I just discovered in another person’s Internet column. I’m doing it because I know that many of you, like me, share the same abhorrence of those recorded messages that can work you into a state of rage while the minutes of your precious day tick away.
It’s on Poynter Online, and the author is Al Tompkins. He spotlighted a website that targets those annoying telephone messages that keep you away from real humans when you’re just trying to get answers from your credit card company, retail or online store or bank. The web-site is titled, appropriately enough, gethuman.com. It’s free, and it has all sorts of useful advice on how to cut through the recorded crap and get a real person on the phone. It is also compiling a database of the best and worst mass market companies - specifically, how long it takes to get a human on the phone. I love this.
Here are some of the tips from the website:
1) Interrupt. Press 0 (or 0# or #0 or 0* or *0) repeatedly, sometimes quickly.
2) Talk. Say “get human” (or “agent” or “representative”) or raise your voice, or just mumble. The IVR might connect you to a human after one of these key or unknown phrases.
3) Just hold, pretending you have only an old rotary phone.
4) Connect to account collections or sales or account cancellation; they always seem to answer quickly. First ask them for their name and rep number (so they know you are writing it down, and thus so they are more likely to help you.) Then ask them to transfer you to the department you need. Sometimes they will put you ahead of the queue, although sometimes they will send you to the end (and thus in those cases this tip is useless).
5) Toll call. For credit cards, if the expected wait time is too long, hang up and try to call back on their non-toll-free number, as they often have shorter queues.
6) Selecting the option for Spanish will sometimes get you a bilingual human more quickly than if you just waited for an English-only operator.
I wanted to pass it on to you right away. Gethuman.com is a way for us lowly consumers to fight back.
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