Live Answering Service vs. Voicemail

Many businesses rely on voicemail to handle client or customer calls when the office is closed. For years, this was more or less considered an acceptable business practice. After all, customers wouldn’t expect an office (especially for a small business) to be available 24/7, right?

For better or worse, expectations have changed significantly in recent years. Thanks to new technologies and platforms, better leveraging of outsourcing solutions, and increased competition, consumers now have a higher expectation for instant gratification from businesses. If your company isn’t available to assist customers after they get off from work, on the weekends, and even in the middle of the night, then you are disappointing your clients and likely losing business.

For many small business owners, there is sometimes a belief that answering all calls around the clock is not a viable option. However, thanks to live answering services, it is not only viable, but it’s becoming a necessity for those who want to stay competitive. Hiring a live support partner is not only far more cost effective than hiring additional staff, but it can lead to a dramatic improvement in customer satisfaction and growth in overall business opportunities.

In order to fully appreciate the benefits of a live answering service, consider how the following scenarios differ when a company uses a live answering service vs. voicemail.

A potential new customer calls for information

New customers are the lifeblood of any business, particularly small to mid-sized businesses. If a potential customer calls to learn more about your product or service and just ends up getting your voicemail after listening to the phone ring for a while, they may leave a message asking for a follow up. But most likely, they won’t. In fact, 4 out of 5 callers will hang up as soon as they reach your voicemail. And a significant portion of those will simply dial your competitor if they are seeking an immediate solution. Basically, if a customer is impatient, or simply needs to find a suitable company as soon as possible, they will move on to their next option.

On the other hand, if a potential customer calls after hours and is greeted by a live person who is able to answer their questions and (if appropriate) set up a meeting with someone from your company, they are highly likely to end their search and do business with your company having felt satisfied that someone cared enough to answer the phone and talk to them about their needs.

An existing customer calls with a problem

Another common issue that can arise with voicemail is an existing customer calling with a problem. Depending on your industry, the specific type of problem will vary. However, it is easy to see how leaving a voicemail could be unsatisfying and even frustrating to the customer. If the problem is urgent or time-sensitive, this problem is only exacerbated. They have no idea when their problem will be dealt with or if their message will even be heard!

A live answering service can help customers work through some of the more common issues, and provide more detailed and informative messages for your team to respond to during regular business hours. That way, when your team arrives in the morning, they can take action according to the message and follow up with the customer letting them know everything has been resolved and ask if there is anything else they can do for them. That sure beats getting a call from a business asking for you to explain your problem AGAIN!

In certain cases that you dictate, an answering service can screen calls and forward the important ones directly to the appropriate person for immediate assistance when appropriate.

Your business image is on the line

When a caller dials your business and reaches a voicemail box, what do they think? Likely thoughts that run through their head as they hang up without leaving a message include:

“I expect to get sent to voicemail when I call my mom and she’s busy, but not when I call a business.”

“Voicemail is just so impersonal and frankly, unprofessional. How does this business expect to develop any sort of relationship with me?”

“Well if they don’t care enough to answer my call, then I guess they don’t care enough to want me as a customer.”

Being able to speak to a live individual gives your company a more professional image — comparable to companies far larger than yours. Callers won’t have a reason to doubt your ability to take care of them, because they know that there will always be someone available to assist. It’s that kind of professionalism and helpfulness that you want your business to be known for. A reputation like that will attract throngs of people who are candidates to become lifelong dedicated customers.

Clients of MAP Communications can direct their call center on how to handle any number of unique and customizable situations — in addition to providing the benefits of a live answering service as discussed here. To learn more about how MAP Communications can improve your business, simply call us at 888-252-6555 or click here to get your free trial started.

Here are some related articles you might be interested in:

Why You Need a Live Answering Service

Run a 24-Hour Business Between Nine and Five with an After Hours Answering Service

How an Answering Service Can Benefit Your Customers