Artificial Intelligence

IVR hacks that are killing your contact center performance

Crystal Miceli Headshot

By Crystal Miceli

0 min read

happy man looking at the phone experiencing a successful patient journey mapping

Life Pro Tip: Modernize your CX with AI

The hottest conversation on Reddit’s r/LifeProTips yesterday (a channel with over 22 million members) is about how to trick automated customer service system menus into connecting you to a live agent. The original post calls IVR systems “annoying” and makes the assumption that a human person can help get you to the right solution faster than an automated system.

"You know those annoying automated systems; "Press 1 for this, Press 2 for this, Press 3 for this..." They suck, especially once you start getting into submenus and just want to talk to a person. They can be tricked though. This has worked like 90% of the time for me. Whenever you get one of those automated systems and it starts listing choices, just quickly type in a random string of numbers. "3545325" for example. It will generally tell you it does not understand, and start going to the menu again. So do the same thing again, and then again. Normally after you do this 3 or 4 times it'll simply give up and say; "Please hold while we connect you with a representative." Thus you can get past 10 mins of menus and at least reach a person who will direct you quicker. It may not work on every system but like I said it's worked way more times than not."


This reflects a common frustration with automated contact center systems, and that frustration is impacting customer satisfaction, spend, and loyalty. IVR systems were once hailed as a technological advancement, streamlining customer service interactions—but today, many users find them cumbersome, time-consuming, and often ineffective. Still, contact centers absolutely rely upon these automations to maximize the number of customer interactions they can manage with limited human resources. So what’s the solution

According to the conversation on Reddit, it’s pressing “000000000” over and over again, shouting profanities, or just saying “Agent” or “Representative.” Some claim that you can make a reference to canceling service, and that will immediately get you to a live person.

"There's an even better phrase: "I want to cancel my service." You'll be connected in less than 2 seconds. Doesn't matter what the company is. Doesn't matter if you're a customer/subscriber/user. The person you'll be connected to has no idea what you said to be connected. The computer just magically moved you to the front of the cue."


"I've read that these systems can tell when a person is becoming irate, and that companies want to avoid that by connecting immediately. So if I'm not getting where I need to go within a minute of tapping keys, I start yelling HELP HELP HELP really loudly and I get connected about 95% of the time."


From the experience of Redditors, even those options don’t always work, with the call being disconnected frequently. Expectations are rising, but traditional contact centers aren’t keeping up. Customers have more choices than ever before, and switching retailers, banks, pharmacies, etc. is easier than it’s ever been. 

What companies do in this situation matters a lot. Status quo hits the bottom line with lost revenue, missed opportunities to delight customers, overworked agents with high attrition rates, and negative brand reputation. It’s obvious from the discussion on Reddit that this is a problem eager for a solution.

Generative AI FTW

The rise of generative AI is changing the game, offering solutions that can revolutionize the way we interact with customers, but those solutions can seem out of reach for companies just trying to keep pace with customer demand. Someone has to make it their mission to do this better, to leverage AI to improve CX in a way that is practical and accessible to companies of all sizes, in all industries.

That’s us. At Talkdesk, we are on a mission to deliver an AI-powered, unified CX platform to help rid the world of bad customer experience.

There are four anchors that are part of making CX better with AI

  • Make CX more autonomous

  • Make CX hyper personalized

  • Make CX more proactive

  • Ensure AI is trustworthy

Autonomous CX

Autonomous CX means making the best possible use of customer data and context to offer a solution, rather than a prescribed pathway found in a pre-programmed IVR decision tree. Autonomous CX is able to fully complete a task independently, even if that task is getting a customer to the next stage of their journey with a personal touch from an expert best equipped to offer a solution. 

The solution has to be relevant to the industry and customer. We’ve heard from our clients that the journey for a patient trying to make an appointment is very different from a customer at a retail store trying to return an item.

That’s why we see healthcare providers use Talkdesk’s generative AI capabilities in a patient-facing role—to determine if symptoms warrant an appointment with their primary care physician, or if they need to be seen more urgently. Our platform fully integrates with the electronic healthcare records system to secure the best appointment time and provide an autonomous experience that results in a better patient outcome. We are applying this deeply trained and integrated model to other industries as well, like Retail, Banking, and Insurance. We recently launched industry specific virtual agents with Talkdesk Autopilot that have similar integrations with core industry systems such as FiServ, Jack Henry, and Shopify. 

Hyper Personalized CX

The more you know about a customer, about where they’ve been, what they’ve been through, their prior patterns, the more effectively an agent or a system can determine what should happen next. Nobody wants to be passed around from one agent to another, and asked the same questions again and again. 

The best customer experience is when you get to the right person, with the right information, at the right time. Talkdesk Copilot has the power of generative AI paired with proprietary information from other systems of record that we have access to through our industry partnerships. That means that the next best action can be recommended or even fully automated, resulting in a faster resolution, but more importantly a better experience.

Traditional personalization often relies on segmentation and broad customer profiles, whereas hyper-personalized CX provides tailored experiences that resonate with each customer on a deeply individual level. This level of personalization goes well beyond merely addressing customers by their name or recommending generic products; it involves dynamically adjusting content, offers, and recommendations based on the customer’s browsing history, purchase patterns, location, demographics, and even current context.

Proactive CX

Proactive CX is about uncovering insights in data that can be used to identify improvements in the customer journey—and to even be able to self-implement those improvements without the need for an army of analysts, data scientists, or engineers. This includes anticipatory service, using AI to recommend the thing that will not just make the customer happier in the moment, but over the horizon, increasing their loyalty and spend. This makes the contact center a revenue driver instead of a cost center. It also includes process improvements, workforce improvements, operational improvements. 

Trusted CX

And last, but definitely not least, it’s about being responsible with that most valuable resource, the customer. (Even angry Redditors who happen to be your customers.) 

Legacy systems require a snarl of rules that are difficult to implement and to maintain—and could even contradict one another, creating a terrible customer experience where you’re stuck in an IVR loop. This is another area where AI shines because GenAI eliminates the rules. BUT that doesn’t mean that you don’t need controls. In fact, you have to deal with new complexities like AI hallucinations, issues with prompt injection, as well as age-old compliance concerns and regulations about use of customer data. 

That’s why we are investing deeply in ethical and responsible use of AI, and that includes human in the loop technology that allows us to put guardrails in place without excessive and expensive AI experts. We are also focused on expanding our reach into the most highly regulated markets and industries by aligning with compliance initiatives. 

Those menus are not there to help you…

Traditional IVR systems are nothing but a source of frustration for many, like the Redditor who said “Let’s be clear. Those menus are not there to help you.“ 

"In Romania, this would just make it hang up the call. For some reason, in some countries they are allowed to do that and fully automate the support. Let's be clear. Those menus are not there to help you but to make you loose patience and give up the call. Especially those with the please hold, all operators are busy right now.... Estimated waiting tine 9 billion light-years. Please hold mfcr"


The emergence of AI has opened up new possibilities for improving customer experience. By leveraging AI-powered CX solutions like Talkdesk CX Cloud, businesses can provide faster, more personalized, and more efficient service, ultimately leading to happier customers and increased loyalty. That’s what we do, and it’s why companies who love their customers use Talkdesk. 


Crystal Miceli Headshot

Crystal Miceli

Crystal Miceli serves as Vice President of Product & Industry Marketing at Talkdesk, where she leads the execution of the product marketing strategy, including the development of defensibly differentiated product positioning & messaging – telling the story of the value that Talkdesk solutions provide to customers. Crystal has over 25 years of experience in marketing, product management, professional services, customer success and engineering at Cisco, Wal-Mart, BMC Software, CA Technologies (now Broadcom), Ivanti, Alida and others. Crystal holds a BS in Computer Science from Tulane University and an MBA from Louisiana State University. She volunteers for local causes and is a proud member of the Junior League of New Orleans.