USAA, the big insurance company for current and former members of the armed services, is a good example of the first group. The robosystem asks only that you pick by number, the subject about which you are calling (e.g, “1″ for auto insurance; “2″ for home insurance). A service representative comes on the line quickly, answers questions cheerfully, and is respectful of the caller (and does not use the faux chumminess of addressing the caller by his/her first name).
Hertz is an example of the streamlined approach. It wasn’t always this easy, but today you can dial their “800″ number, book a rental car in a distant city, get the cost and your confirmation number all without human intervention and all within about three minutes.
The American Spectator looks at which companies are doing it right when it comes to telephone customer service, but as some of us know from experience, sometimes, it’s just easier to tweet at a company’s twitter handle and wait for someone to get back to you.