A growing trend spreading through businesses nationwide is the adoption of computerized receptionists. Improved call trees, better technology, and rising costs have driven many businesses to replace live operators with a computerized recording inviting callers to press 1, 2, or 3 for their next question.
But what do clients think about having their calls answered by an automated system? Do they appreciate the convenience, or are they frustrated by automated responses?
The Pros and Cons of Live Using Receptionists
Although some business owners enthusiastically embrace the concept of using an automated receptionist, many are leery of this change – and for good reason. There are several pros and cons to replacing a human being with a computerized service. Proponents of using computerized receptionists cite three main reasons why computers can replace live reception services:
- Computers work 24/7: One of the arguments for using a computerized receptionist instead of hiring a person to route calls is the bonus of round-the-clock service. For companies requiring 24/7 client service, a computerized receptionist is appealing. However, a live answering service can provide complete coverage for inbound calls, too.
- No sick days or vacations: Computers can get viruses, but they don’t take a day off to recover. Replacing people with machines means less down time due to illnesses and no vacation or personal days.
- Easily handles simple calls: For businesses with simple call routing needs, an automated system works smoothly. If all they’re doing is routing routine or emergency calls to the proper department, then an automated system makes sense.
Despite these perceived pros, there are more advantages to using live receptionists. Here’s where people have an edge over computers when it comes to representing a company:
- People can clarify questions: Human beings can ask clarifying questions. Many people call a hotline or a corporate office because their problem isn’t simple. A computerized system is best at handling simple requests. When it comes to complex problems, a call center operator trained at asking clarifying questions can get to the heart of the problem more easily than a computer can. This can increase caller satisfaction.
- Live receptionists understand nuances: Tone of voice communicates additional layers of information during a telephone conversation. Computers cannot pick up on these subtle cues.
- Real people save time and hassles: Although voice recognition technology evolves, regional and global accents can still give a computerized system trouble when it’s trying to decipher the caller’s needs. A human being can simply ask a caller to speak more slowly, or repeat the statement to ensure understanding. In this case, a live receptionist saves the caller precious time and aggravation.
- Live receptionists make a better first impression: People complain that the corporate world is just one big, faceless entity. Computerized systems only enhance the perception that a company puts profits over people. When a human being answers a call, it adds to the brand perception that the corporation truly cares about customers and values people over profits. Live receptionists give a better first impression.
- Humans can be efficient: Although computers are touted as a time-saving device, a great receptionist actually saves more time. Good receptionists know the most frequently asked questions and can think on their feet to answer unusual questions. They know where to go for information and how to respond. Live receptionists can actually be an efficient response to high call volume.
This blog was written by Laurie Leonard, the President of SUITE 1000, a U.S. based national telephone answering service, inbound call center and outsourced call center service. Her company has specialized in handling legal intake, sales leads, email lead response, appointment scheduling, customer service and help desk calls for over 20 years.