Virtual receptionist vs auto attendant: Which is better?

Peyton Duplechien • 08 Jul 2019 • 3 min read

On your search for a professional, yet affordable answering service for your small business? If so, then you’ve probably come across a handful of Virtual Receptionist Services with different offerings. 

However, while some companies market themselves as providing a Live Answering Service, like we do at VoiceNation, many others provide what’s known as an auto-attendant service. 

To help you understand the difference between these two services, and to highlight why it’s usually better to invest in a Live Answering Service overall, we’ve broken down using a Virtual Receptionist vs auto attendant, and the benefits of both, so you can decide which best fits your business. 

Live person vs auto attendant: What is a live answering service? 

In simple terms, a Live Answering Service employs actual human agents to answer calls for a variety of different businesses. This means that when customers call, they’ll be directed to a real person, rather than a machine. 

As a result, Virtual Receptionists are able to answer customer enquiries directly, ensuring that you never miss a call and that all leads are followed up promptly. 

Live person vs auto attendant: What is an auto attendant? 

Unlike a Virtual Receptionist, an auto attendant is simply just another term for an automated answering service, and you’ve probably interacted with these systems, and their “menu trees”, fairly often. 

For example, when you call your bank, instead of being answered by a live person, your call is answered by a machine – a.k.a. an automated phone answering system. This system usually asks you to make a selection from a predetermined menu: “Press 1 for…”, “Press 2 for…”, etc… 

Unlike Live Answering Services, these auto attendants are powered by interactive voice response (IVR) technology, which allows a computer to “interact” with humans through the use of telephone keypad tones and voice commands. 

 What are the benefits of a live answering service? 

 Although there is a lot to like about Live Answering Services, there is one key flaw you need to be aware of, and that’s training consistency. 

Unfortunately, while at VoiceNation we offer our receptionists extensive training to deliver a high-quality service, the same cannot be said for every brand out there. As a result, there can be a sizable difference in call quality and consistency between providers. 

 In short, when choosing a live answering service, selecting a company that offers strong operator training programs is imperative. 

What are the benefits of an auto attendant answering service? 

The one prime benefit that an auto attendant has over a Live Answering Service is that they’re relatively inexpensive and can be customized to match your business. This in turn means that you at least have a functional service to interact with callers should you be unable to pick up the phone. 

What are the disadvantages of an auto attendant? 

Unfortunately, while an auto phone answering system is better than letting your calls go straight to voicemail, they’re inherently limited in their ability to engage and connect with callers. They simply can’t meet customer demands right there and then. 

On top of this, if callers are given too many prompts, they can become frustrated with the automated phone answering system. They may very well have just spent five minutes trying to reach an operator, only to be routed to the wrong department. 

And if you need further proof of the inferiority of auto attendants, just take a look at these statistics: 

  • 80% of callers that have a bad automated phone answering system experience will stop doing business with that company. 
  • 70% of customers will share a bad automated phone answering experience with friends and family. 
  • 92% of customers trust word-of-mouth marketing over advertising, and 74% of those customers rely on word-of-mouth marketing as a key purchasing influencer 
  • 65% of customers prefer to speak to a live person compared to just 16% preferring an auto attendant service. 

Is it better to have a live person than an auto attendant? 

Whether or not you choose an auto attendant over a live person is up to your business and may be based entirely on your available finances. However, you should certainly ask yourself if you’re willing to lose potential new and current customers alike due to poor automated service. 

Don’t forget, people are far more inclined to share a negative experience on social media and review sites, which can in turn affect your business further. And when you’re a small business, one negative review could potentially cause harm that could damage your business’ reputation – sometimes beyond repair. 

Choose a VoiceNation for your live answering needs 

You should now have the information you need to make a well-informed decision when deciding between a Live Answering Service and an automated voice answering system. And if a Virtual Receptionist is something you’re interested in, you should reach out to the VoiceNation team today. 

With flexible price packages and exceptionally trained staff, our team of receptionists will make sure that you never miss a single call, helping you to maximize your potential leads each and every day.  

And if you want more information on similar topics, then check out our articles on live service answering features, answering services vs voicemail, and using an answering service as an accountant. 

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