Companies are making it harder and harder to actually get a human being who can help you solve a problem. Call them, and you’ll often end up in a phone tree, asked to enter number after number or speak your issue for an automated system.

But there are still humans working in most of those companies’ customer service departments–you just have to know how to get to them. Here are a few easier ways to get what you want.

Chat Online

The telephone isn’t the only option for talking to a human being anymore. A lot of companies also offer an online chat interface, allowing you to talk to a a human being from your keyboard. You may still have to answer a few questions, but it’ll be much faster, and the wait times are usually much shorter. Sometimes, you might even get a human immediately, while telephone lines may often have long waits. Check the company’s website to see if it offers customer support via online chat, and try that option if it exists.

Some companies even offer email support, allowing you to contact a human with a problem. This won’t always work—sometimes you really do need a back-and-forth interaction with human beings. But Amazon, for example, offers online chat, email, and telephone interaction if you visit its support site. We’ve successfully used the email option to resolve a variety of issues with purchases, firing off a quick message and receiving a helpful reply that dealt with the problem at some point within the next day. You get a human to solve the problem and you don’t even have to wait or talk with a human.

Skip the Phone Trees and Go Directly to an Operator

If you do need to talk to someone on the phone, there are a few ways to skip the tree and get a human being. Often, you can simply keep pressing “0” on the number pad—for “operator”—until the system directs you to a human. With automated voice systems, you can often say “Speak to an Agent”, “Agent”, “Representative”, or something similar to get a human being, even if the system just asks you to describe your problem. Sometimes it may take a few tries before it actually responds to your request.

Humans in one department can often direct you to humans in another department, too. If you’re having trouble accessing customer service from a company that sells products, you can try contacting the sales department. They may be more eager to get you on the phone with a person. You can then ask the sales agent to connect you to someone in the correct department.

Use GetHuman for Particularly Stubborn Phone Trees

If the usual tricks aren’t working, is a great resource that provides information on how to actually get a human on the phone at a bunch of different companies. The website provides guides to navigating those obnoxious telephone trees that require you press button after button, weaving your way through an automated system designed to save the company money before you’re passed off to the more expensive customer support person.

Visit’s phone number database, plug a company name into the box, and you’ll see information about contacting a human. We’ve never actually used GetHuman’s paid services, but we’ve used the free guides with success a few times.

For example, plug “Comcast” into the box, click “Phone & Contact Info”, and you’ll see information about the specific phone number you need to call, average wait time, call center hours, and the buttons you need to press to get a human who can help you on the line.

Try the Company’s Facebook or Twitter Page

Twitter is often a better way to resolve issues with an unresponsive company than its normal support channels. That’s because companies have social media teams that are separate from the normal customer service team, and want to avoid too many public complaints on social media.

For some smaller companies, commenting on their Facebook page may also work well, though Twitter tends to be more popular as a place for online customer service.

Tweet your problem at the official account—or official support account—and they may ask you for more information or connect you to someone who can help you with the problem. It’s worth a shot if normal channels just aren’t working for you—perhaps you can’t contact a human at all, or perhaps the humans you did talk to don’t seem to have enough power or interest in helping you with your problem. And if you’re making your problem publically known to all your followers, they may be even more eager to help.

Go Talk to Someone In Person

In some cases, your best bet for talking to a human may be to go visit a business in person. This helps even with larger businesses like Internet service providers, cellular phone companies, and banks. If the business has a local branch that deals with customers or clients, try visiting in person. They can’t ignore you if you’re standing right in front of their face–and store representatives have a much stronger desire to make sure you walk out happy. We’ve been in situations where–after 6 hours trying to deal with phone support–going to a store solved the problem in 20 minutes.

Image Credit: Steven Lilley/Flickr

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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