How to Escape from Voicemail System Limbo

As techies, we spend a lot of time on the phone with vendors, which means occasionally getting trapped in voicemail system limbo. Comcast, Microsoft, or BofA…you’ve been there, so you know the feeling. As someone with a four-syllable last name, this is a big pet peeve of mine.

VM System: “To confirm your request, please say your name as it appears on your credit card.”
Customer: “My name is Katrina Shiznelhof”
VM System: “Sorry, that name is not in our system. To confirm your request, please say your name as it appears on your credit card.”
Customer: “My name is Katrina Shiznelhof!”
VM System: “Did you say Kat Shnitzelhoof? If yes, press 1. If no, press 2 and try again.” 
Customer presses 2.
VM System: “To confirm your request, please say your name as it appears on your credit card.”
Customer curses, presses 0, and starts working on something else
VM System: “Sorry, all agents are busy, please stay on the line. The next agent will be available in approximately 20 minutes.”
More cursing, boss walks in, customer hangs up

Yes, it does get old fast. Which is why we were smiling when we read Zendesk’s Guide to Tricking Voicemail Systems. Indeed, we each have our own personal style, which for us could involve pressing 0 and offering to make a payment (and trying the ol’ bait and switch). Whenever possible, though, we rely on a Live Chat session and any variety of escalation requests–especially if we can leverage priority status as a business client. While we like Zendesk’s #10 recommendation (via agoosa.com) of swearing furiously, which is supposed to get you bumped up in priority, our experience has been the opposite.

So, what technique do you use to speak to a live human when you need assistance?