- The pros of using an automated phone system
- The cons of using an automated phone system
- Is there a better option?
Q: Should I utilize an automated phone system for my small business? Is there a better option?
A: An automated phone system for your small business may be efficient, but it’s ultimately not as good as a Live Receptionist. Rather than using an automated system, explore Alliance Virtual Offices’ offerings to find a Live Receptionist plan that’s right for your business.
Thanks to online services like Virtual Offices that allow entrepreneurs to start businesses from anywhere in the world and other tools designed to streamline the process, getting your new startup off the ground has never been easier.
The meteoric rise in the popularity of remote work has created an environment where those willing to take risks and start businesses are often rewarded for doing so, so long as they’re willing to remain flexible and react to what the market is telling them.
In the past, customer service was nothing more than a treat. Consumers had exponentially fewer options, so if an employee treated a customer poorly, it was unlikely to yield tangible results.
Similarly, a phone answering service for small business looked far different than the same service looks today.
Now that consumers have never-ending choices and more options than they know what to do with, this isn’t the case.
Data collected by HubSpot shows several surprising statistics.
For instance, 90% of American consumers use customer service as a deciding factor when they’re deciding if they want to engage with a particular company.
Some companies use an automated phone system for small business to better engage customers, but is that the best path forward?
In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of using an automated phone system for small business, investigate better options and how you can use them, and finally, we’ll look at Alliance’s solution to providing an automated phone answering service for small business.
So, instead of asking, “How much is an automated phone system?” or “What is automated business systems” and jumping into what may be an unwise business decision, take a moment to keep reading.
- The pros of using an automated phone system
- The cons of using an automated phone system
- Is there a better option?
- Alliance’s automated phone system for small business
The pros of using an automated phone system
According to Forbes magazine,56% of surveyed business owners claim that customers use phones to contact their businesses more than any other avenue of communication.
Unsurprisingly, this has led many entrepreneurs and business owners to search for the best way to answer phones without hiring for new positions or trying to screen calls themselves.
Before we dive into the pros and cons of using an automated phone system for small businesses, let’s take a moment to answer the question, “What are automated business systems?” and more specifically, “Why do companies use automated phone systems?”
Automated business systems come in many different forms.
From Human Resources Information Systems that automate onboarding, payroll, and benefits, to Enterprise Resource Planning Systems that unify financials, inventory management, manufacturing, and more into one software platform, these automated systems are designed to allow employees to focus on the more nuanced aspects of their positions.
As you can imagine, an automated phone system, occasionally referred to as an Interactive Voice Response, or IVR, system, is a telecommunications technology designed to handle a high volume of callers while simultaneously allowing these callers to interact with voice or keypad input systems.
These phone systems rely on pre-recorded messages and a cultivated menu of options for callers to choose from. Essentially, these automated phone systems function to weed out callers with quickly answerable questions while forwarding more serious requests to human representatives.
Other modern businesses have found more eloquent solutions, but automated phone services for small businesses are still a popular response for modern business owners.
Despite the existence of better solutions, an automated phone system for small business comes with several positives.
We’ve put together a brief list of some of these positives below.
- Increased efficiency
Automated phone systems can handle a large volume of calls without the need for human intervention, thus increasing the efficiency of handling customer inquiries and reducing wait times.
Automating phone systems can be more cost-effective than hiring a full or part-time position to handle phone inquiries. In addition, automated phone systems can operate 24/7 without the need for overtime payment or additional benefits.
An automated phone system can provide a consistent level of service to customers, regardless of the time of day or the particular representative handling the call. This can help establish trust and credibility with customers.
Automated phone systems can be customized to meet the specific needs of a small business, such as providing callers with specific information about products or services or directing calls to the appropriate department or representative. This can help improve the overall customer experience and increase customer satisfaction.
As you can see, there are several pros associated with using an automated phone system for small business.
That said, determining whether a phone system is better for customer service than other, more modern options isn’t as straightforward.
Aside from the convenience, consistency, and price, automated phone systems leave a lot to be desired. There’s something about speaking to an automated system that just doesn’t inspire investor confidence or bolster the customer experience like other options.
The cons of using an automated phone system
Despite the positives of using an automated phone service for small businesses, several negatives can lead to poor customer experience.
While the positives dealt mostly with ease and convenience, these negatives focus more on the consumer experience itself.
Below, we’ve put together another list of these negatives to help you better understand some of the problems you’ll encounter with an automated system.
- Lack of personal touch
- Limited ability to handle complex inquiries
- Technical difficulties
- Negative perception
Lack of personal touch
Automated phone systems lack the personal touch of a human representative.
From the same HubSpot report, 69% of customers say they’re “willing” to interact with a bot on simple issues, but 54% of customers claim that these chatbots and automated systems take far too long and ask too many questions before transferring them to a human representative.
For almost ten years now, consumers have been complaining about the lack of personality in using automated phone systems. The automated systems typically have set questions and answers, and if an individual’s questions or answers lie outside of these firm strictures, it can be difficult to contact a real person.
Consumers want to speak with a real person. If they can’t speak with a real person immediately, they want automated systems that will quickly transfer them when things go awry.
Tools and services that include human contact or connection will always stand out amongst their automated competitors because the average American customer is busy. They want their answers fast; otherwise, they’re inclined to chalk the call up as a poor customer experience.
Limited ability to handle complex inquiries
Automated phone systems may not be able to handle complex customer inquiries that require the judgment and expertise of a human representative.
Again, issues like this can lead to a negative customer experience, resulting in consumers quickly leaving negative reviews and telling their friends and family about their poor experience.
Some automated systems have a list of yes or no questions they ask before even offering a human representative.
If a customer is calling with a pressing question about the product or service they’ve purchased but they’re forced to wait through a minute and a half of questions that have no bearing on their issue, they’re going to get increasingly more frustrated as the questions continue.
Unsurprisingly, this will lead to customer frustration and dissatisfaction. Two feelings that you need to avoid as a business.
Automated phone systems can experience technical difficulties resulting in dropped calls, incorrect routing of calls, or other issues that can negatively impact the customer experience.
When relying on an automated system for customer service, you’re equally reliant on the underlying technology that supports the system.
These technical issues may appear in any form, but here are some common examples of problems that an automated phone system for small businesses may face.
Call routing issues
- The purpose of an automated phone system is typically to effectively manage easy questions while quickly transferring more serious requests to human workers. If your phone system is having difficulty routing calls to the correct departments or extensions, you’ll likely start dealing with long wait times or incorrect transfers that harm both the customer experience and your daily operations.
- Your system’s menu should be a catch-all menu that can answer any frequently asked questions without human intervention.
- If the options provided are limited or unclear, callers are going to quickly ask to be transferred to human workers regardless of whether or not their questions could be answered by the menu. For requests as simple as transfers, this can be particularly frustrating.
- Just like any service that runs using the internet and other digital technologies, your automated phone system may experience lengthy downtime. If the system isn’t available, callers may be unable to reach your business.
- If this is the case, you can expect negative reviews and customer frustration about their inability to contact your company.
Voice recognition problems
- Even if your country operates solely in the United States, the sheer variety in customer voices may cause problems for your system. If your system utilizes voice recognition technology rather than only the keypad, it may have difficulty understanding various accents and dialects.
- If your customers are forced to repeat themselves several times, they may get increasingly frustrated with each forced refrain.
Long wait times
- Remember, automated phone systems are meant to handle a high volume of incoming calls before filtering out the easy-to-answer questions from the more serious issues. If your system is effectively managing call volume or you don’t have the staff to handle your incoming calls, callers may experience longer wait times before they can speak with a human representative.
- The longer customers are forced to wait on hold and kept from speaking with a human representative, the more frustrated they become. This can lead to widespread dissatisfaction and loss of business.
- For most modern business owners, an automated phone system is just another cog in the machine. With all the tools and services used to run an effective business, it’s important to ensure that each part of your business functions properly.
- If your automated phone system for small business isn’t properly integrated, it can cause problems with your data synchronization or other missed opportunities for high-quality customer interactions.
Some customers may perceive automated phone systems as impersonal or unhelpful, which can negatively impact their perception of the company as a whole.
This can lead to reduced customer loyalty and decreased revenue for the business.
Consumers want to interact with other humans. It’s quicker, more effective, and more personal.
There’s a reason that niche professions utilize services like Live Receptionists to serve the same functions as automated phone systems.
Read more: The Surprising Reason Solo Attorneys are Using Virtual Receptionists
Services incorporating humans where others utilize automation will always stand out against fully automated services.
Even if these services can’t handle the same volume of incoming calls, the customer service benefits far outweigh the fewer number of calls.
Is there a better option?
Fortunately, there is a better option.
Alliance Virtual Offices offers a Live Receptionist service for small businesses, allowing companies to deal with incoming calls without hiring another position or relying on automated systems.
Our Live Receptionists provide our partners with a friendly and professional voice that personally screens and answers your calls and leaves a positive first impression on customers, investors, and clients.
We’ve put together another list of what makes Alliance’s Live Receptionists so much better than their competition.
- Personalized service
A Live Receptionist can provide a more personalized service to callers, greeting them by name and addressing their specific needs.
Compared to automated services that can’t do anything but ask simple questions and transfer calls, this is a welcome change. Live Receptionists help build rapport and trust with consumers that just can’t be established with automated systems.
A Live Receptionist can provide support beyond answering and transferring calls, such as scheduling appointments, taking messages, and providing basic customer service.
This can help to free up small business owners and staff to focus on other tasks.
An automated system can’t schedule these appointments and may struggle when you’re taking a vacation, but our Live Receptionists allow you to work from anywhere in the world while they handle your incoming calls.
Live Receptionists can be cost-effective solutions for small businesses that can’t afford to hire a full-time receptionist.
By outsourcing receptionist services, small businesses can save money on payroll, benefits, and office space.
Even better, Alliance has three separate tiers that our partners can use depending on their specific volume of incoming calls. With plans starting at under $100 per month, even the newest businesses can save money and time by utilizing Alliance’s Live Receptionists.
A Live Receptionist can give small businesses a more professional image, as callers will be greeted by a trained and professional receptionist rather than an automated system or an overwhelmed staff member.
This helps build trust and credibility with customers and potential clients.
The modern market values image. With a Live Receptionist, you’re giving potential customers, clients, and investors a good impression that can lead to more business opportunities and potential networking connections.
Your Live Receptionist can easily integrate with other digital services and tools. If you’re using a Virtual Office, for example, a Live Receptionist can easily be integrated into your existing system.
Read more: What Makes a Virtual Office Rental Unique?
Modern tools aren’t as useful if they offer no avenue of integration. Even the best-automated phone system for small businesses isn’t as functional as a live receptionist that easily integrates with your existing business infrastructure.
Alliance’s automated phone system for small business
An automated phone system for small businesses makes your company more efficient and frees you up without costing enormous sums of money.
That said, it leaves a poor impression on customers and your company vulnerable to a slew of technical problems.
According to Harvard Business Review, customer service data is almost always mismanaged.
Rather than focusing on a strategic approach that looks to improve customer service over time, many companies focus exclusively on the daily tactical customer service issues that they’re facing rather than tackling the larger issues like poor customer representative training and lackluster processes.
If you focus only on what happens daily, you’re making a mistake.
Rather than trying to fix each daily problem, you need to tackle the overarching issues.
A Live Receptionist gives you the best of both worlds while still being affordable.
Even better, because Alliance offers other virtual solutions, your Live Receptionist can easily integrate with other tools and services you’re using to scale operations.
Automation is great, but it lacks the human touch that’s so important for modern consumers.
- Time is Money: The ROI of Using a Virtual Receptionist Business Phone Number
- The Surprising Reason Solo Attorneys are Using Virtual Receptionists
- How to Amplify Customer Service with a Live Receptionist
- What Makes a Virtual Office Rental Unique?
Regardless of where you are in your business journey, Alliance has a Live Receptionist plan that can greatly benefit your operations.
Instead of relying on an automated phone system for small business or hiring for an expensive full- or part-time position, you can use our Live Receptionists to handle incoming calls and provide high-quality customer service without breaking the bank.