A Comparison Between Using An Automated Attendant System vs A Live Phone Answering Service

The impression your business leaves with customers who try to contact it by phone can vary widely from frustrating to engaging.  In today's world, most people are familiar with automated attendants and the difficulties associated with them.  Not knowing extensions or departments, lengthy periods on hold, call backs at times that may not be convenient, difficult to navigate menus or menus missing the options desired.  The list goes on.

Assuredly, automated attendants fit some businesses.  They're cheap, reliable overall, sound professional, and they can always be on call.  Depending on the volume and nature of calls a business receives, an automated attendant may meet their needs.  However, they fare poorly in situations that may require immediate attention and hold times with periodic reminders may leave a customer in a bad mood by the time they do get to speak to a person or leave a message.  

Waiting on hold does have negative psychological impacts on a person.  A large part of human communication is through facial expression and body language and having to speak on the phone in the first place removes this experience from a customer, leaving them at a disadvantage.  How much of this a person is willing to tolerate depends in large part on the specific context of the call, whether it is something anticipated or pleasant versus something that is annoying or aggravating.

There is a sense of being dominated by the necessity of waiting, and there is boredom that comes with it, which leads to irritability.  Humans prefer talking to other humans, there is a level of uncertainty dealing with a machine that makes some people uncomfortable.  Uncertain or unexplained waits seem to feel longer to people, making them even more frustrating.  The apologies of the automated responses ring hollow for customers with pressing concerns or grievances.

Speaking to a live representative, on the other hand, does several things to better aid the customer.  They are friendly and personable, people much prefer talking to a fellow human, which can set the caller at ease.  A person is much more capable than a computer, being able to do more than a machine and problem solve with the caller to get them exactly the attention they need.  A live representative can immediately connect a caller to the correct desk or department without having them wade through menus or know extensions.

A live representative can actively manage the relationship with the customer to allay their frustrations and answer their concerns as they arise, preventing all of it from building up over the course of a hold only to be released when actual contact is made.  They make the process of interacting with the company more personal and friendlier for the caller, reassuring them directly of their value and the value of their call. It’s also much easier to get the correct message across to a person when there is another person delivering it directly.  

Intercon provides a 24/7 answering service to assist clients with these needs.  Our staff can quickly help to diffuse a call before it is transferred by being the first point of contact for a customer rather than a machine.  A customer’s anxieties can be addressed through the empathy of our operators before they turn into a negative experience, enhancing the quality of the interaction. It leaves a lasting impression with customers when a company is approachable, when they can interact with it, rather than be dominated by an impersonal automated system.