How Long Does it Take to Get a Human?

In the wake of purple ribbons, zombies and looking up words in the dictionary, we thought we might want to try something resembling journalism. To that end, we’ve started the Time to Human project.

Each week, we pick an industry and call up their customer service lines around noon. We see how long it takes to get a person and post a graph of the results. We round up the numbers at the week’s end do another industry the next week. When we’re done, we will compare the results across industries.

This week we’re calling mobile phone companies. Today is a good day to be a Nextel customer.

To provide consistency across companies and industries, we use the numbers and hacks provided in the GetHuman database, which purports to contain the swiftest ways to reach a customer service human by phone.


Edit Your Comment

  1. mrscolex says:

    This is a flawed test because it’s not an accurate portrayal of getting help. The test should be revised to say “How long it takes to ge to a human that can help you out.”

    This especially applies to Verizon, whom as you can see performs very well on that test, but will often forward you to a person three or four times. My worst was regarding PRI coverage and the people couldn’t determine whether it was an ISDN troubleshooting ticket or a T-1 troubleshooting ticket. (Since elements of both are used). It took 45 minutes to finally reach somebody who could help me.

  2. KevinQ says:

    Make sure to call from a different phone number each day, or block caller ID. Customer service companies can flag an incoming phone number to go straight to a person. If they figured out what you’re doing, they might flag you so they get good scores the next day.


  3. CMPalmer says:

    I called the AT&T help line and found that there is no way, through the options, to reach a human operator. A quick online check said that if you repeatedly press ‘0’ you will get to a human (if they think you are too stupid to understand the phone menu, I suppose).

    I was calling in late afternoon and their published office hours were like 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM EST. I was calling at 6:30 EST and, after pressing ‘0’ a few times and hearing “That is not an option, please listen carefully and select from the following options…”, I got a ringing phone… Following by a recording saying their office was closed and telling me to call back during normal office hours.

    So, my time for reaching a human operator was approaching infinity (or at least 12+ hours) on that call.

  4. Ben Popken says:

    Mrscolex, you have a good point. However, the scope of this survey is limited to how long it takes for a person to pick up.

  5. limiter says:

    I can’t believe Sprint even put the effort in to have a human answer the phone, I figured you would press “0” then they’d just hang up on you.

  6. non-meat-stick says:

    Sony Ericsson is a manufacturer of mobile phones. These other companies are mobile phone carriers.

    Why is Sony Ericsson in this mix? Where are Nokia and Motorola and Samsung and LG?

  7. Ben Popken says:

    Oh yeah, we should leave them out.