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    If You Swear at Apple's Automated Customer Service, They'll Put You Through to a Human

    Written by

    Brian Merchant

    Senior Editor

    If you are like most modern blog-reading folks, then some percentage of your waking life has been wasted navigating the interminable labyrinth of automated menu options on customer service hotlines. Please hold, says the robo-voice, as a wash of static-saturated music crackles in your ear.

    This, as you’re well aware, is the worst. And some of us are better than others at enduring it. I, for one, can only ride out the blips and lounge tunes and instructions to speak ‘yes’ or ‘no’ aloud for so long before I want to rain blows upon my phone. Others, I’m told, are more patient.

    But not Reddit user floppybutton. He, like me, grew anguished after waiting an eternity on the phone, and loosed a flurry of expletives into the receiver. He explains what happened next:

    I was having some trouble with my (older) laptop and wanted to order a new keyboard to fix it myself. After exploring every option possible in the machine based list, I eventually got frustrated and used a few choice words that triggered something in the computer I was talking to.

    It cut itself off in mid-sentence, apologized, and in about 10 more seconds I was talking to an Apple tech. Unfortunately for me, he couldn’t help me order my new keyboard. At least I got the answer that they aren’t made anymore, instead of having to drive over an hour to the closest Apple store for the same information."

    Could it be that Apple’s automated customer service system is designed to detect frustration amongst humans, and will let you jump the line if it thinks you’re growing angry enough? Yep.

    NextWeb reports that:

    the automated system that Apple uses (but isn’t limited to just this company) is programmed to listen for signs of distress. If that additional menu option is one too many and you unleash a volley of terse language down the phone, it will immediately connect you with a real person … Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems are often programmed to listen out for certain keywords that might indicate they are about to lose a customer. By monitoring calls and immediately connecting a frustrated caller, the company may able to reduce the number of complaints is receives and retain the caller’s custom.

    There you have it. Next time you’re pissed off after languishing on hold for half an hour, don’t hold it in. Let the expletives fly. Or try a service like Get Human in the first place, which helps you weed through bot-service and cut right to actual human providers. Either way, the message is clear: quietly waiting on hold is for chumps.

    @bcmerchant

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