Forward-looking: Most people dread calling customer service numbers because it usually means navigating a menu of automated options and then waiting on hold while listening to elevator music, sometimes for over an hour, before speaking to a live person. Google is testing a feature that allows technology to take your place for the initial steps of a call.

Users enrolled in Google's Search Labs can now try an experimental function that automatically calls a customer service number and notifies them when a human representative is on the line. Google unimaginatively calls the feature "Talk to a Live Representative." It supposedly enables users to skip the lengthy wait times associated with support calls.

When users google a customer service number, an option labeled "Request a call" appears below the result. Once the user inputs their call's purpose and phone number, Google automatically calls the company on their behalf, directs the call past the automated responses toward a human customer service representative, and calls the user back when an assistant is available.

Customers using the system can continue their other business without staying in the queue for an hour or more. Google also notifies users of the call's progress through SMS messages and provides an estimated window of when it will call back.

Talk to a Representative is available through Google's mobile apps and the desktop version of Chrome. The trial runs until the end of this year, and there is no guarantee that it will see a public release. According to 9to5Google, it supports only a handful of businesses in the US at the moment:

  • Airlines: Alaska Airlines, Delta Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, United Airlines
  • Telecommunications: Assurance Wireless, Boost Mobile, Charter Communications, Cricket Wireless, Samsung, Sprint (likely T-Mobile)
  • Retail: Best Buy, Costco, GameStop, Home Depot, Walmart,
  • Package Services: ADT, DHL, FedEx, Grubhub, Instacart, Securus Technologies, StubHub, UPS, Zelle
  • Insurance: Esurance, State Farm

The feature fundamentally resembles Hold for Me, which has long allowed Google Pixel owners to simplify the wait for customer service. When calling a business, Google Assistant can display estimated wait periods for various times of day and automatically hold a call until connected with a representative. However, Talk to a Representative can potentially reach far more users because it supports all phones and doesn't require starting a call until a human customer service assistant is on the line.