Businesses, particularly small and medium sized businesses, can find themselves in a tough spot when it comes to phone coverage. On the one hand, incoming calls are the lifeblood of the company. If you cannot position yourself to respond quickly to prospects or provide prompt customer service, you will bleed business. On the other hand, forcing your staff to continually cover a single main line and filter out solicitations, spam, and transfers while also completing their real work isn’t a sustainable strategy, particularly during busy periods.
Hiring a receptionist, someone specifically positioned to handle all incoming calls, transfers, and appointment or meeting scheduling, solves this problem, but full or even part-time employees are expensive (search, salary, set-up, training, and benefits). A cheaper option is necessary, and, unfortunately, many companies find just such an option in automated phone answering service.
Here are four reasons to avoid such an ‘auto-attendant’ system, and one better solution your business needs to consider:
1. Customers Hate Them
Companies have been using computerized phone systems to manage incoming call and customer support for a long time, and at this point virtually all consumers are used to it. But that doesn’t mean they like it. Companies with long queue times and maze-like menu options have created powerfully negative impression. Just think about your own most recent call for customer service for your cable or phone service. This negative mindset kicks in the moment a customer hears the recorded message from your auto attendant and will color their whole interaction with your staff—even if the actual wait time is minimal.
2. They Create a Poor Impression
This effect is so powerful and consumer expectations for customer service have gotten so low as a result, that a business can be seen as providing improved customer service simply by having someone with a pulse answer the phone instead of a machine.
3. High Numbers of Lost Calls
In theory auto attendants are a great solution. The computer picks up the phone, provides options, and when a customer hears the option that fits their needs they press the corresponding button and are transferred to that department. However, in practice this system turns out to be quite a bit messier. Callers wind up getting bounced, choosing the wrong options, or impatiently pressing 0, 1, 9 or another random number to shortcut the system and get to a real human being. Departments end up getting a wide variety of calls that have nothing to do with them and the actual act of filtering and transferring calls winds up back with your staff—only this time your customers are more frustrated and have been on their phones much longer for the trouble.
4. Less Value
Automated phone systems may be cheaper, but the actual value you get is low. These systems are usually a flat period-based subscription, and they do only one thing (filter incoming calls). They cannot answer questions, schedule appointments, or let callers know that the office is closed or a particular team member is out of town. They are severely limited and the cost of operating an auto attendant will not scale up or down with actual use or performance.
The Real Solution:
This is why we at Reliable Receptionist believe so strongly in the superiority of virtual receptionist service. We provide real human beings who can stand for your company, manage your incoming calls, assist your daily operations, and benefit the overall impression of your business. Our services are scale-able, our representatives are always available to help you when you need it, and you are always welcome to customize your service. At Reliable Receptionists we work for YOU.