The best example of working the phones is seen in the movie "All the President's Men" when Robert Redford is tracking down a lead.
Of course, menu systems didn't exist in the 70's.
These days it's a crapshoot as to whether or not you'll get a human being on the line when calling any sort of business. If it's a major business, you could end up in some infinite loop black hole anomaly vortex from which you will never emerge. (Can you tell I've been watching a lot of sci-fi during the holidays?)
Anyway, I decided to try an experiment. I called a few large companies that I knew had crazy menu systems. I waited for the first question.
And said nothing.
In fact, I waited through every question and said nothing.
Each time, after the automated voice said, "We still can't hear you," I was transferred to a real person.
On average it took about three automated questions for this to happen, but each time I got a real person on the line.
So if you're working the phones, and time is of the essence (or even if it's not), just dial the number and be quiet. The computer on the other end will obviously get sucked into it's own infinite loop black hole anomaly vortex and kick you out to the humans.
Beating technology is cool, isn't it?