If you have to have an electronic attendent make the first choice “press 1 to talk to a real person”.
Times are hard. There is no doubt about that and when times are hard, companies begin to search for things that can bring them the success that they may be lacking. Looking for ways to cut costs and implement savings throughout the company, many organizations have turned to automated answering machines to save them time and money. And, truth be told, there are cost savings with these systems. Many businesses have replaced the receptionist with an electronic attendent, a wonder of technology that can pre-qualify and route the person on the phone to the right person in the company. Obviously, like most people, don’t you just want to talk to a live person?
Have you ever been talking to a friend and had them comment favorably on an automated attendant phone answering device? Has anyone you know ever bragged about how efficient they were, how valued they felt by that system or how it quickly and efficiently got them to the right person? Probably not! Everyone has a story about punching several buttons and never getting a real person on the phone, about being sent in a circle through every button on the dial and then at the end of it they had to leave a message that nobody ever answered.
So, why, then do companies continue to use these systems when everyone knows that nobody likes them? Obviously, business owners are like everyone. They get sold a product by someone who promises that it will save the company money by eliminating the need for a receptionist. They buy into the claims of efficiency wherein a caller can choose with whom he wants to speak, push a button and be directed straight to that person. Business owners are led to believe that having “push 2 for Spanish” will allow them to tap into a new section of the market. The issue is this doesn’t ever happen the way we think it will!
Take a little time during this down economy to actually track the success of your automated call-in system. Call your business from the field. Determine the value of each option. Track the number of calls that hang up before they get to the right person in your system. Follow-up with your clients who do get through and seek honestly their opinions about your automatic, robotic call answering system; see if they thought it was a good service or nothing more than call filtering.
Companies may find that getting back to basics and tossing their electronic answering systems out and putting a real person back are recognized to be customer focused and this alone will improve your customer service perception. Every business owner should know that it is much cheaper to keep a customer happy than it is to attract a new one. No customer stays happy pushing buttons in search of help!
Written by Greg Newell out of frustration with one particular client. From one client: “We thought scheduling meeting space in Dayton was going to tap too much into our company resources. What we discovered is that by simply answering the phone we could book our Dayton area meeting place faster and more efficiently.