"Thank you for reading our blog today. Your visit is VERY important to us. Please select from the following options. Please make sure you read through to the entire menu because our options have recently changed."

OK, not really.  All options are still available in the left-hand nav. And happy December - we have snow on the ground today.

I read about an interesting new company featured in the Seattle Times today (courtesy of Craig Crossman, McClatchy-Tribune News Service): Bringo, serving customers calling a company with automated phone trees:

"(In the automated phone tree) you finally hear the option you want and press it. You are then presented with a sub-menu of choices. "Please select one of the following seven items." You listen and then make another selection. You then hear "Please select from the following six options," and so it continues.

"It is somewhere around the third sub-menu that your mounting frustration makes you either give up or start pressing random phone keys in hopes that you might be connected to a live person who can actually help you.

When you finally navigate all the appropriate menu options, you discover that you now have to wait 17 minutes. When you do finally speak to a live person, you have to swallow your tongue, least you make a comment you may regret later. There must be a better way to quickly get to a live person on the phone, and now thanks to Bringo, there is."

Bringo was featured with Gethuman.com in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year, "two Web sites designed to help callers connect to an employee and bypass automated systems."

And I like Bringo. 

Start by visiting the Bringo Web site and search through the list of companies on their web site that you're interested in speaking to a live person. Noted as a Chicago health-care technology, Bringo provides nearly a thousand listings.  You type in your phone number and hit a button that says "fetch." The site rings your phone within seconds to verify that the request is legitimate.

According to Bringo's site, here's how it works:

  1. Find the company you'd like to call by category (credit cards, mortgages, loans, health care)
  2. Enter your phone # (we will never disclose your phone number to anyone, not even your mother!).
  3. Wait a few seconds while we navigate the phone tree.
  4. When we call you back, pick up your phone and you're done. No more phone trees.

Ready to get started?

  • Click here to list all categories of companies
  • Click here for an alphabetical list of all companies

But where are the tech companies and broadband service providers in the list of popular services?  It makes sense that these companies don't make the top ten list of companies called (but all companies I tried to reach in the last couple of weeks.) 

Interestingly enough, I found that of the company categories listed, I recently called only one type: Credit Cards.  For most of the others, most of my inquiries are over the web or email, even live chat.

Oddly, AT&T Wireless isn't listed (it's reached via the listing for Cingular), and Comcast isn't listed in the ISP list.  And on the computer hardware page, Dell numbers occupy more than a third of the listings.  But that stuff is easily fixed.

Back to what works. 

Bringo's site navigates the company's phone tree for you, and then calls you back when it finally finds a live person (or in the queue).

So, let's take a look at Bringo's main entry for Microsoft:

Microsoft: Avoid the phone tree and talk directly to a human at Microsoft. Microsoft is leading software company. Its main products are: Windows XP, MS Office, Internet Explorer. Company owns also MSN.com website and manufacturers XBOX 360 game console.

This company's operators may answer very quickly after we navigate the phone tree. This may cause them to hang up before you are connected. In the event that this happens, you may try Bringo again, or dial them directly and press "0" at each prompt when connection is established.

Sweet. ;)

So, before using the service, try dialing the number that Bringo has listed on their site and see if you get a live person quickly. 

BTW, for Microsoft Tech Support, call (in the US) 1-800‑642‑7676, and press 0 at each prompt, ignoring messages.  (Thanks, GetHuman.)

As with gethuman.com, take a look at the telephone number listings on the sites and paths for getting a hold of a live person.  But when you are faced with the dreaded automated warning, "your call will be handled in twenty minutes," head over to Bringo and see if that works for you.

Tags: Microsoft, Customer Service, Customer Support.