Technology has afforded business owners with a lot of luxuries. Before the invention of the computer or smartphone, we relied upon things like typewriters, rolodexes and adding machines to keep our businesses running. There was also no alternative to hiring a secretary; if there was no one around to pick up the phone when it rang, it simply went unanswered.
Nowadays, we take technology for granted, especially in the workplace. The same financial projections that might have taken hours to calculate in the past are now automatically updated by interactive spreadsheets. Our contacts are easily stored in an app on our phones and our bank deposits are made virtually. Still, there’s no replacing the warmth and resourcefulness of an administrative assistant picking up the phone when it rings.
Automated Phone Systems
There are options, of course, to keeping your phones from ringing off of the hook. Automated phone systems are incredibly popular. It’s not hard to see why: the entire phone call is handled by a machine. There’s no need to pay a person to transfer calls or take messages when an automated phone system is on the job.
At least, that’s what many people think. Though affordable and relatively easy for businesses to set up, these systems have a way of alienating you from your callers. While you might save a few bucks on an administrative worker to handle the phones, you’ll put up a mechanical wall between you and your clients. You risk not only freezing out callers, but there’s also the chance that existing customers will get fed up with your answering system and take their business somewhere more personal.
There is also a chance that, at any given moment, the system could malfunction. Machines aren’t as adept at improvisation as humans are, and when something goes wrong, an automated phone system can simply break. Even worse, the system may not alert you to a problem, leaving callers hung out to dry until you catch onto the problem. Consider how many prospective leads you’ll miss out on while your phone system is on the fritz.
While automation sounds like a nice solution to your business phone call challenges, it’s not the right choice for every business. Though we might think of automation as the future, the problems that arise from using these phone systems show that technology just can’t replace good, old-fashioned human connection.
Live Answering Services
Live answering services offer the convenience of an automated phone system without losing the personal touch of a real, live voice on the end of the line. The receptionist answering your phone is every bit as experienced and talented as one you might hire to sit in your office. The difference? They’re working remotely and they cost much less than traditional in-house receptionists to employ.
Not only do live answering services help ensure you never miss a call, they also guarantee that your callers are treated with respect and care every time they dial you up. Even on your best day, it can be tough to offer that level of service to every single caller. With a live answering service, you and your team can focus on what’s most important on your own to-do lists, while leaving the stellar customer service up to the professionals.
The customization of live answering services can help ensure your calls are handled the same way you would. By working with your virtual receptionist to create a script and answers to common questions, you guarantee that misinformation or confusion isn’t spread by uninformed workers. You can dictate the precise messaging you want receptionists to use every time they pick up the phone.
There are many surprising ways live answering services can help keep your business on track. MAP Communications, for example, offers an entire message management solution to help you increase productivity. MAP even has virtual receptionists who are bilingual and can assist with customers whose first language isn’t English. Best of all, your callers need never know they’re speaking with a secretary that isn’t actually sitting in your office.
Which is Best For You?
The size of your business, your industry and your requirements are all factors in determining which option is best for you. Still, the benefits of live answering services are obvious. By offering a high level of customization, these services allow you to present your very best face 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Remote receptionists offer the opportunity to make a great first impression, but they continue to impress long after a customer’s first interaction over the phone.
If you care about customer service, having someone available to chat with callers is important. Not only does it remind customers that you care about them, but it presents an opportunity to build trust. In a competitive, global market, that relationship is a huge piece of ammunition as you aim for success.