Google moves to cut down on telephone 'hold times' for consumers

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You’ll love what this does to reduce your stress waiting for someone at an airline to take your call

Wasted time is a drag. It’s anyone’s guess as to how much the average person wastes a year on all of our “wasted time” activities, like being on hold.

One estimate says Americans spend 26 days per year waiting on hold. And guess who thinks it can get that time back for us? Google.

The company has rolled out an experimental feature named "Talk to a Live Representative," which its imagineers have developed to streamline the process of contacting customer service by phone.

The feature takes its cue from the "Hold for Me" feature on Google Pixel phones but takes it a step further. Google will handle the process and then call the user once a live customer service representative is available to talk.

The "Talk to a Live Representative" feature is currently being tested within Google Search Labs and is available to users in the United States. And the company is playing fair, too. Instead of making the app work only on its own Android systems, it can do its work on Apple/iOS devices, as well as desktop Chrome browsers.

How it works

9to5Google’s test run of the app came off pretty impressively, but it’s not a total fix-all. To begin, the company is sticking with major retailers, airlines, and other brands that have call centers consumers might engage with. 

In instances where you’d call an airline, it would play out like this: 

“Request a call”: You first specify a reason for why you’re calling. In the case of airlines, it’s: Update existing booking, Luggage issue, Canceled flight, Other issue, Flight check-in, Missed my flight, and Delayed flight.

“You then provide your phone number, with Google sending SMS updates. The Request page will note the estimated wait time. After submitting, you can cancel the request at any time,” 9to5Google’s Abner Li said.

So far, the supported business partners include the following according to Li:

Airlines: Alaska Airlines, Delta Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, United

Telecommunications: Assurance Wireless, Boost Mobile, Charter Communications, Cricket Wireless, Samsung, Sprint (which probably means T-Mobile, too)

Retail: Best Buy, Costco, Gamestop, The Home Depot, Walmart, Services

Services: ADT, DHL, Fedex, Grubhub, Instacart, Securus Technologies, Stubhub, UPS, and Waste Management, Zelle

Insurance: Esurance, State Farm 

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