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Our experts reveal insider tricks to cut the wait time and get Customer Service to resolve any issue quickly.
To talk to a person: Call the other number
Rather than selecting option after option on a phone tree, skip the toll-free number and call the business directly. “If the company is small- or medium-sized, their local number is the best way to reach a live person,” reveals Kathie Johnson of call center software provider Talkdesk. That’s because they lack complex automated systems that send you to a phone bank.
To find the direct number, look up their snail-mail address on their product or website, then type the business name into MapQuest.com, which will display their local digits.
Also smart: Calling a bigger business? Use the live chat option on their site while on hold, says Johnson. This gives you two ways to reach an agent—just take the one who answers first.
To get fast answers: Pretend you’re ‘new’
Instead of selecting the option for “problems” or “billing disputes,” press “new service.” “Going through the sales department gets you a faster answer, particularly for account and product queries,” says Daniela Puzzo of call-back software provider Fonolo. Often you’ll get an agent who has been trained to handle customer service before moving to the sales department. But because sales are a high priority, calls to this line get answered more quickly.
To sidestep ‘hold’: Time it right
For the shortest time on hold, try calling at 7 AM, when wait times are a whopping 70 percent shorter than if you were to dial at, say, noon, according to studies. If you’re calling during the work week, aim for Wednesday or Thursday, when holds are 7 percent shorter than other weekdays. But if the company offers phone support on the weekend, that’s the absolute best time to strike, ideally early on Sunday, when hold times are almost 20% shorter than the rest of the week.
Also smart: Jump directly to the head of the line the next time you call by asking the agent you’re working with now for her name and number. More and more companies are allowing agents to give customers their direct lines, which means no more waiting in the future.
Get quick fixes on social media
- Tweet your question. An incredible 84 percent of folks who post a customer service issue on a company’s Twitter or Facebook account get the help they want — often within just a few hours or even minutes! Social media posts are seen by tons of folks, so making you happy is good publicity.
- Discover ‘secret’ support. Many businesses have a social media account dedicated to offering even faster customer support, such as @AskTarget and @UPSHelp on Twitter. To learn if a company offers this, type its name and “support” in a search bar.
- Follow them for instant help. Companies will often ask you for information to help solve your issue, such as your purchase order number. By following their online account on Twitter or Facebook, you can send any requested information through private direct messages, which get answered instantly.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.