Today, speed matters: the quicker we can complete or receive something, the happier we are. When calling a company regarding payments, problems, or questions, customers want their calls answered and handled NOW!
Using an automated system to answer the phone and direct the customer to the proper contact has its benefits:
- Less money and time is spent on “front-desk” employees.
- Efficiency: calls can be directed to the right department immediately
Here are the disadvantages, and they are significant:
- Confusion from unclear options, little/too many options, or not enough time allotted for selection.
- Frustrated and impatient callers (often related to the menu options).
- Increased hold times.
- System issues (it’s technology…there is bound to be a glitch).
- Lost business due to a perceived lack of customer importance.
You know this is true: a majority of callers would prefer to speak to a live person. Having a happy and efficient person greet a caller…
- makes that caller feel important.
- provides no frustration or confusion for the caller.
- is calming.
- reduces hold-times.
- directs calls to the correct department on the first transfer.
- means less call-backs.
- ensures urgent/sensitive situations are handled promptly.
So what is the best solution? It depends on your unique business requirements, of course. If a caller wishes to reschedule an appointment, an automated system is okay, but clumsy: there must be a call-back. An automated system is definitely not optimal for urgent incoming calls. Some companies may implement both automated and “live” to good effect. In any case, and notwithstanding all of the other factors, having a real human answer your calls is perfect for making sure customers know they are your top priority.