Customers who are annoyed by automated voice prompts and music when they contact a company for information about a bill, price, product or service can send a text instead.
A new app, TalkTo, lets users interact with any business in the United States via text messages sent from their iPhone, Android phone or Web applications. Its creators say it is convenient and efficient.
"Imagine you could text the front desk of a hotel to find out if they have a room available, or a sports store to see if they have lacrosse equipment for kids," said Stuart Levinson, the CEO of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company TalkTo.
Retail shops, restaurants and services are the most popular businesses on the app, which allows users to perform tasks like place an item on hold, book a table at a restaurant, or make an appointment.
Texting a business is similar to texting a friend. Users simply start typing the business name and then select it from a directory that includes tens of millions of businesses.
If the business has signed up for the service, one of its representatives will respond directly to the request. For companies that are not on board, TalkTo has put together a team of agents that will dig up the information, make the required phone calls, and then relay the response via text.
The average response time is 5 minutes, according to the company.