Live Answering or Auto Attendant? Choosing the Right Solution for Your Small Business

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On your search for a professional – yet affordable – answering service for your small business, you’ve probably come across a handful of virtual receptionist services with different offerings. Some companies market themselves as “live answering services”, like us. Other answering services offer “auto-attendant” services. So what’s the difference?

Live Answering vs. Automated Phone Answering Service

A live answering service employs actual human agents to answer calls for a variety of different businesses. The live virtual receptionist answers calls in a friendly and professional manner, immediately providing the caller with the assistance they need.

A virtual receptionist is able to perform all the duties of an in-house receptionist and more, without ever stepping foot in your office – and for a fraction of the cost. The average salary of an in-house receptionist is $32k/year. Even with our highest plan, our virtual receptionist service will cut your overhead by more than $25k/year.

Some virtual receptionists are located in a call center and some work remotely from home. Thanks to our incredible training and enrichment programs, we are able to offer both onsite and remote agents without any issues of consistency or quality. However, other live answering services like ours don’t invest the same amount of time and resources into their training programs, which leads to reduced call quality and consistency. In short, when choosing a live answering service, a company that offers strong operator training programs is imperative.

An auto attendant is another name for an automated answering service. You’ve probably interacted with these systems, and their “menu trees”, fairly often. 

Here’s an 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 – that asks you to make a selection from a predetermined menu: “Press 1 for…”, “Press 2 for…”, etc. 

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.

Although auto phone answering systems are better than letting your calls go to voicemail, they are inherently limited in their ability to engage and connect with callers. If callers are given too many prompts, they can become frustrated with the automated phone answering system.  They have just spent five minutes trying to reach an operator, only to be routed to the wrong department.

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, over 16% prefer an auto attendant service.

Are you willing to risk losing existing and potential new business to a poor automated phone answering system experience? Don’t forget – people are more inclined to share a negative experience on social media and review sites, as well. When you’re a small business, one negative review could potentially cause harm that could damage your business’ reputation – sometimes beyond repair.

Choosing live answering over an automated answering service

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. However, many companies get caught up in the price and end up settling for a less expensive auto-attendant, costing them more in the end.

We offer a variety of affordable virtual receptionist plans designed especially for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Our company truly believes in supporting the growth and success of small businesses, so we keep our rates below our competitors. As a small business ourselves, it is our mission to provide the best live answering service at the most affordable rate to other growing small businesses.

For more information, visit voicenation.com. If you’d prefer to speak to one of our knowledgeable sales representatives, give us a call at 877.679.3777.