A craving for the human touch

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —September 5, 2006
Filed in News

We’ve all had terrible experiences navigating through automated phone systems where you dial 2 for this and 3 for that only to have the system hang up on you. Apparently these systems are called phone trees. Well you can now bypass phone trees with a new online service called Bringo. Just select the company your want to call and someone will navigate the phone tree for you then call you back when they have a real live human being to talk to. Amazing! More evidence that when dealing with people you can’t aim for efficiency because we’ll create ways to circumvent the system. I’m also guessing that the call centre providing the service is based in India or China. Another indicator supporting Dan Pink’s thesis.

[via Freakonomics blog]

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:


  1. James Taylor says:

    While I too have had bad experiences with this kind of system I do have to wonder if all the frustration people have with them is related to not being able to achieve their objectives more than not being able to speak with someone. A system that, for instance, identified you first (by phone number or by asking for account number) and then used some intelligence to list actions you were most likely to be needing is easy to do and would address many problems. Likewise, regardless of whether one is interacting with a machine or a person it will not help unless they are empowered to do what you want. I blogged about this before here.

  2. The empowerment point is a good one. The other is simply will they have the knowledge. But I still think humans win hands down because they can adapt based on the questions you ask and go ask someone if they don’t know the answer. Even the empowerment issue can be overcome because the person will most likely know who is empowered to help me. I’m also adept at asking, “I would like to speak to your manager” and problems get solved.

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