Definition of phone tree in English:

phone tree


  • 1An automated telephone system through which callers are routed according to options selected in response to a succession of recorded questions.

    ‘users had to navigate an elaborate phone tree before reaching a counselor’
    • ‘On the phone tree, Press #5 for "Hot Issues."’
    • ‘He couldn't get through to customer service and found himself lost in an automatic phone tree.’
    • ‘Today, I finally had enough time to navigate through's phone tree and reach the right customer-service person.’
    • ‘Most CPAs will write to the IRS because they burn up too much time on IRS phone trees, trying to find the right person.’
    • ‘I called the Minneapolis Police Department, hit a phone tree, and left a message.’
    • ‘I call in sick to work, then spend hours on phone trees, gathering information from the Immigration and Naturalization Service.’
    • ‘Concluding incorrectly (but understandably) that he could settle the matter over the phone, Pierce called - three times that day - and tried to weave his way through a labyrinthine phone tree.’
    • ‘I was on the Prince sponsorship package, which meant that I could call their headquarters in New Jersey, fight my way through a tangled phone tree and demand to speak to someone in the "Elite Athlete" division.’
    • ‘More often, I got to the end of a long phone tree and an hour of hold music only to be told to take it up with the government.’
    • ‘Technology has given us all those great voicemail phone trees that more often prevent us from resolving problems that would take only a couple of minutes if we could actually speak with a person in charge directly.’
  • 2A system for contacting a large number of people quickly in which each person called then phones a number of other designated people.

    ‘To put your phone number on the phone tree contact John.’
    • ‘Neighbors living next to the park organized themselves to watch for illicit activity and summon police response via a phone tree.’
    • ‘Meetings should be held and phone trees established to develop an action plan.’
    • ‘I encourage people to do block watches, to link up, to have phone trees.’
    • ‘They write letters, meet with agency personnel, publish pamphlets and hold conferences, serve on citizen advisory boards, and organize phone trees.’
    • ‘The bureau has put together phone trees for contacting staff if the office is inaccessible.’
    • ‘At the very least, get a phone tree for your street to notify each other if something happens.’
    • ‘The Red Cross advocates building a "phone tree," a network of contacts out of the area, for communicating after a disaster.’
    • ‘The day before the primary, he told the Chronicle that "we are going to have the largest telephone bank and neighbor-to-neighbor phone tree Houston has ever seen."’
    • ‘Hold news conferences, call talk shows, send e-mail and use phone trees to spread the word that the bad guys might be trying to steal the election.’
    • ‘City officials have established a flood warning website and "phone trees" to get word out of any coming disaster.’
    • ‘Local officials and loyal customers formed a phone tree to get in touch with employees and season-ticket holders, and then many of them decided to fill in as workers for no pay.’