Three new tricks worth trying when you must phone a customer service call center…

Get angry at the voice-recognition system (but not at the human phone rep, which will only make him/her less likely to help you). Some companies are adding voice-recognition analysis technology that monitors callers’ speech and transfers them to a person faster if they exhibit signs of anger or frustration—the companies hope to prevent that anger from growing worse.

Get specific with the voice-recognition system. If your customer service call is answered by a computer, say the name of the product or service you need help with—even if this hasn’t been listed among your options. With some systems, this will route you directly to the person you need to speak with, skipping the tedious phone tree. (If the system realizes that you have spoken but doesn’t understand what you said, try saying something more general such as “agent” or “representative.”)

Get a US-based rep if you have difficulty understanding accents. An increasing percentage of large US companies are once again maintaining domestic call centers—but usually only as a small part of an international customer service network. If you don’t get a US agent when you call and you have difficulty communicating, request to be transferred to one. Some companies allow this.