Hate wasting your time trying to talk to a customer service person at a major company using an automated menu system? Me too, and thankfully a new company, Fonolo is addressing this problem by helping you navigate quickly through the process with their beta program.
Fonolo is still in the early stages of the implementation, as it builds upon the quantity of North American companies in its directories. Unfortunately, you can't escape the menu navigation process in its entirety, but it does let you bypass listening to the annoying recording and the duration it takes to get through the process.
The first time you use their service to call one of the major companies in their directory, they ask you to visually navigate through the company's menu in order to click on the appropriate category so you can be patched through to the right branch of customer service. Once the application is officially released, they will allow users to bookmark spots in the menu, so if you frequently find yourself calling the billing department at Amazon for example, you won't have to navigate the menu all over again. They also plan on making it possible to record your calls, and make notes about your call history to specific organizations. Their system appears so easy to use, that if you can manage to get through the automated phone systems, you will find this to be an easier solution.
Currently, Fonolo is continuing to tweak its functionality in order to release it from beta. Based on published feedback, it's on the right track, but requires further development to increase the quality of calls made. For that reason, it's also created a developer program that allows them to access Fonolo's API and make their mark.
Fonolo isn't the first company to try and tackle the abyss that is automated phone navigation systems. GetHuman.com is a simple, straightforward directory that lists the correct digit combinations that you need to dial in order to bypass automation and get to a human. There's really nothing fancy about it; unlike with Fonolo, there's no application to do the dialing for you, and the website really isn't anything special to look at. Lists are setup by business category and major companies are in alphabetical order, so it takes some scrolling to find what you're looking for. There is definitely no denying that what Get Human offers, is effective and comprehensive.
While at a glance, Fonolo may not seem like an especially exciting business idea, but it's innovative in that it's keeping up with annoying industry trends, like automated phone services, and coming up with a solution to help clients beat the system.