Speak to a Real Person when Calling a Business: Easy Guide

Are you tired of the endless loop of automated messages you get whenever you call a government agency or business? Want to speak to a human and not a robot when calling customer service? It's often easier and more efficient to convey what you need to a real person. Luckily, just saying a few magic words or pressing certain buttons can take you straight to a real human being. This minHour guide will teach you the easiest ways to talk to a human when calling a business.

Touch-Tone Systems

Dial “0”.

Most of the time, pressing “0” will take you to an operator. If it doesn’t, press it multiple times. For many systems, pressing it twenty times will do the trick. You can also try using other symbols in the following step.

  • For general tips, see our guide on making effective business calls.

Dial “*” or “#” four or more times.

A lot of companies have a special combination (usually repeated keys) to let their sales reps or field technicians get a hold of someone quickly. If you don’t have the time or are desperate to avoid the robo-call, keep trying different combinations for a better chance of success.

Press nothing and wait.

Most systems have support for old “rotary” style phones which cannot submit a silent tone from the newer touch-tone styles. This confusion will register with an operator, and usually will mean being transferred to a human call agent.

Choose the option for “new service,” or “cancel my account”.

This will usually connect you to a live operator who can help and/or re-direct your call to the right person. Ask them for their name and ID number first, so that they know they can be held accountable for transferring you properly.

  • Alternatively, choose the option for checking your account. When asked for your account number, dial anything.
  • If you can’t get on the line with an operator, you can always try emailing customer service instead.

Voice-Response Systems

Say “I would like to speak to a person”.

Or, repeat the words “operator,” “agent,” and “representative.” You can also try, “I would like to speak with a human being.” Since these systems often miss the first 1/4 second of your statement, full sentences allow for a clearer understanding.

  • For more customer service info, see our guide on how to get good customer service when talking to a representative.

Repeat “complaint”.

Do it as many times as you can. Many voice-controlled systems have checks for certain words, so you may be forwarded to a human being after three or four repetitions of that word.


Don’t say anything distinguishable. If the system hears you making sounds and cannot distinguish words, it usually asks you to repeat yourself twice, then gives up and sends you to customer service.

General Advice

Call a local branch.

You can sometimes talk to a person faster if you call a local branch of that business rather than the national help number. Make sure to get the local branch number from an official source to avoid scam numbers.

Call during off hours.

Almost every call center has a high call volume lately. Try calling early in the morning or midweek. This can help get you to a human operator faster.


  • When you get through to an actual person, ask them for a direct number (say that it’s in case you get disconnected) so that you can dial it next time, if necessary.
  • Ask the person you reach to note specific details of your conversation to your account file. If you’re transferred this should help the new operator get up to speed.
  • Find an amicable operator and be friendly to him or her. Say what you are looking for (and if you have been frustrated by the calling experience, explain your frustration in a gentle manner. Do not attack your new friend.), and often he or she will help you to what you’re looking for.


  • Many companies keep an on-going file for your account. If you are rude or use profanity to a representative your account may be noted and that will flag future representatives when you call in again.
  • If you do choose the option for a Spanish-speaking representative, be aware that you might not get help any faster. Many companies forbid their representatives from speaking to customers in any language other than the one they were hired for, and must transfer customers who are speaking another language to the appropriate representative.
  • Most automated call systems are designed to speed you along to whomever you’re trying to reach. Know that by demanding a human operator you may be slowing yourself down.
  • If you curse during your conversation with a customer service representative (even just one casual f-bomb), your call may be terminated per company policy.

Leave a Comment