Is it best for your business to answer the phone with a live person or will an auto answer system work? Well, that depends on what your company is trying to accomplish.
First, let’s make sure we are all on the same page here and explain what an auto answer system is. An auto answer system is set up to automatically answer the phone after a set number of rings. The caller is then greeted by an automated voice or prerecorded message. Here is an example of what it might sound like…
Caller hears: Ring…ring…ring… “Hello, thank you for calling GemTel Industries. Please stay on the line while we connect you with the next available representative.”
From there, the caller might hear more of a recorded message or hold music until an agent gets to the call.
It’s not uncommon for call centers and big businesses to use an auto answer system. There are instances when auto answer systems work well for answering services and smaller companies as well.
Now, please be aware that there is a difference between an auto answer system and an auto attendant. An auto attendant also provides a prerecorded greeting, but then offers extensions for the caller to dial so that they can route their own call to the appropriate department. That might sound something like this…
Caller hears: Ring…ring…ring… “Hello, thank you for calling GemTel Industries. For Customer Service, please press 1. For Sales, please press 2. For Billing, please press 3…”
The caller may need to navigate through multiple menus before actually speaking with a live person.
So, now that we are all caught up on the details, the question still remains: Should my business use an auto answer system? The answer comes down to your branding and customer experience decisions as a business.
While quickly answering every call with a helpful, live person is generally the best option out there from both a branding and customer service standpoint, there are some scenarios when an auto answer system can be the right choice.
Let’s say your business is trying to answer all calls in house and not let anything go to voicemail, because we all know that voicemail is where customer service goes to die. If your business is busy, here is what that caller experience would be like without an auto answer system…
Caller hears: Ring…ring…ring…ring…ring…ring…ring…
How many times will the caller let it ring before they just hang up and call your competitor? 7? Maybe?
Now imagine the same scenario, but your business uses an auto answer system if the call isn’t picked up by the third ring…
Caller hears: Ring…ring…ring… “Hello, thank you for calling GemTel Industries. Your call is very important to us. It should only be another moment until someone can help you out. Please remain on the line.”
And then you can hit them with a prerecorded marketing message or some hold music. Either way, having that auto answer system in place gives you a way better chance of keeping them on the line until you can take their call.
Here is one more scenario where your business would do well to use an auto answer system. In this scenario, your company likes to have the opportunity to answer customer calls first. If you’re too busy, the call rolls over to your answering service. It would sound something like this…
Caller hears: Ring…ring…ring… “Hello, thank you for calling GemTel Industries. Your call is now being connected with someone who can help you.”
And by the time that auto answer message plays, an answering service agent will have received and picked up the call to assist!
So there you have it. There are certainly some situations when it is a good idea for your business to use an auto answer system. But remember, if you’re trying to create an ideal customer experience, it’s always best to answer with a live person as quickly as possible.