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Online Telephone Menu Navigation Guides

It's as easy as 3-2-7
  [vote for,

If you phone a bank or an airline say, which has a complicated phone menu you often have to go through several layers of menus by entering numbers. If you knew that you were after the 3rd option of the 2nd sub-sub-menu of the 3rd sub- menu of the 4th top-level-menu item, you could just dial "4323" and you'd be right there, without having to sit through all the menu choices.
These menus could either be published on the company's website, or they could be published on a separate website based on having pieces of the menu structure submitted by members of the public (i.e. you'd submit an online form saying that "4323" gets you to the "change of address" call centre).
hippo, Nov 02 2003

(?) Auto-dialing Extensions http://www.rjsjr.com/hacks/nokia/
[Klaatu, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Cornerstone bank http://www.cornerst....com/phonemenu.html
Almost like this [hippo, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

gethuman.com http://www.gethuman.com/
Q: What do I need to do to actually talk to a real person at company X? [jutta, Oct 19 2007]

PleasePress1 http://www.pleasepress1.com/uk/
Someone's done it! - only 12 years after I posted the idea! [hippo, Jul 13 2015]


       I agree with the idea. In fact I work in a call center and we try to tell our customers the fast way through. Some (most) companies force feed advertisements to you while you wait for your option.
Mossback74, Nov 02 2003

       If you have a Nokia cell phone, you can accomplish this with the "p" and "w" functions <link>. As you dial the number, press the " * " key 3 times to insert a "p"ause or 4 times for a "w"ait. You dial the number and insert a "w"ait. You then press the send to navigate your way through the IVR without ever looking at the keys.   

       So, if you call your bank to check your account balance on a regular basis, program the number, insert a "w"ait, then a "1" for "check account balance", a "p"ause then your account number.   

       I agree that a main menu function would be very helpful. I once call AT&T wireless and found myself hopelessly lost in "Employee Benefits" without a way out.
Klaatu, Nov 02 2003

       This is a nice idea. One possible reason it's not done is that websites can usually replace phone navigation systems entirely (for opening hours, bank balances, reservation systems, that sort of thing), so companies are likely to asume that if you're there you don't need to know how the other system works. This isn't always the case, though, and it may be desirable anyway to be able to print the menu tree and carry it about for when you have a phone but no internet access.
Monkfish, Nov 02 2003

       Fair point [Monkfish] although I've found that they tend to set up the web site to cater for relatively simple transactions. If you want to do something a bit more complicated, you have to phone someone real, which you can only do by navigating the phone menu maze.
hippo, Nov 03 2003

       WIBNI call centres simply standardised their menus ? e.g. one standard for banks, one for 'phone companies? it's not like they actually differentiate their products.
neilp, Nov 03 2003

       A passive listing does introduce the opportunity for the web site to get out of sync with the phone tree. Perhaps if the web site "tree" were more active and helpful...   

       If you have a simple or very common transaction, you should be able to deal with it online, period. If the web site determines that it cannot help you, it should suggest a number to dial and what option to choose, based on what you've told it so far.   

       Phone trees these days are starting to diverge from the number-pushing variety to the voice-recognizing variety. It would be much easier if callers could just say "Accounts Payable" instead of pressing 4-2-3. That would also make it less likely that the phone tree and web site would get de-synchronized.   

       Philosophically, a phone tree should be designed to be user-friendly to callers without Internet access; this should really obviate the need for an online chart. If it doesn't, it's a sign that something's wrong.
beland, Nov 03 2003

       I voted for this, as it would be useful, but I have a better idea: Pass a law making telephone menus illegal, thus giving back jobs and reducing an incredible amount of tension and rage in a company's customers.
Size_Mick, Nov 03 2003

       I think Amazon does this one better by having you called back by a customer service rep.   

       This seems far superior to me than dialing anything: I don't have to sit on the phone, don't have to navigate a phone menu or IVR, I can choose exactly what category of issue I need help with, and the rep can be prepared with account information.
partdavid, Oct 19 2007


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