What is an AI answering service?

Dan Marshall • 20 Mar 2024 • 5 min read

If you’re a business that handles plenty of calls on a regular basis, then you know how hectic things can get on those busy days. Fortunately, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, AI is now more than capable of giving you a hand in these trying times.

But if you’ve never dabbled in AI before, you might not be sure what it’s capable of. But don’t worry, VoiceNation has you covered!

Keep reading to learn all about AI answering services, including their benefits and drawbacks, so you can see whether or not this technology is right for your business.

What is AI phone answering?

An AI (artificial intelligence) answering service is essentially a voice bot that can converse with your customers directly using voice or keypad. Using AI systems, it can work out the context of the company’s services in order to determine how best to respond to customer queries.

Instead of using automated messages, AI call answering relies on voice recognition, which enables it to have a more natural conversation with your customers. These systems continuously learn from previous interactions and adapt and refine their responses as they gather more data.

This adaptability is great because it means that customers will receive more accurate information over time, leading to shorter calls overall and improved levels of customer satisfaction.

Right now, AI call answering is used frequently and in many different sectors, such as in the medical sector, where AI is used to perform initial consultations, answer patient queries and schedule appointments. AI is also commonly used in the retail sector to provide an update on orders, track deliveries and suggest products based on the customers’ recently viewed items.

How does an AI phone answering service work?

So, we know what an AI call-answering service is, but how exactly does it work? Well, the answer is actually quite simple, and can be broken down into the three core elements listed below:

Managing data:

When you set up your AI answering service, you’ll need to provide the system with company-specific data for it to use when answering customer queries. This may include previous customer interactions, product details, and any other information that you think is relevant, in the same way you would train a traditional call answering service.

Recognizing customer intent:

An AI answering service resolves customer queries by understanding their request and the intent of the call. It does this by analyzing previously asked questions and any related issues, gathering this information together, and then using it to provide an answer that matches the customer’s question.

Learns through interaction: 

Continuous improvement is one of the key drivers for using an AI call answering service. AI gets its value from interactions, and the more it experiences, the more accurate the response it can give to your customers.

What are the pros and cons of an AI phone answering service?

With an explanation of AI call answering fully answered, let’s now look at the pros and cons of this technology, so you can decide if it’s right for you:

Benefits of using an AI answering service

An AI answering service can benefit both customers and businesses. Here are a few key examples:

1. Availability

Offering a 24/7 customer helpline can be costly for many businesses. However, with our always-on lifestyles, consumers are increasingly contacting businesses after hours. Fortunately, you can use an AI call answering service to ensure you’re providing out-of-hours support for those inquiring around traditional working hours. It’s an incredibly cost-effective alternative and can often result in a better customer journey.

2. Productivity

As AI call-answering services evolve, they’ll be able to do far more for your business. This could include appointment booking, answering customer queries, and data entry, which as an added bonus, will increase your overall productivity and provide more valuable time for your employees to focus on what they do best.

3. Efficiency

Customers don’t call a business to be kept on hold. They call because they want answers to their questions. By using an AI answering service, all of your calls will be answered immediately, meaning customers can be dealt with straightaway instead of having to wait for an agent to become available.

4. Consistency

Consistency is one of the biggest challenges in customer service, mainly because agents are often multitasking and not able to focus on one task at a time. An AI call answering service can take multiple calls at once and is designed to provide the same correct answer every time, ensuring it’s in line with your brand guidelines.

Drawbacks of AI phone answering

Even though there are many positives to using an AI phone answering service, there are also some negatives you need to be aware of as well. Here are the main ones:

1. A lack of personal touch

AI is able to answer most of your customers’ queries. However, there are times when speaking to a person is required. Human agents can resolve more complex issues and add a layer of empathy to calls that are sometimes required for a better user experience.

 2. It takes time for the software to gather information

If you don’t provide an AI phone answering service with enough information from the very beginning, it can take a long time for the system to recognize multiple scenarios and understand the intent of the customer’s question to allow it to respond instantly and accurately.

3. It might not know the answer

AI answering services only work well if they have the information they’re being asked for. Some of the questions that your customers may have, might not have been programmed into the system before, meaning the AI system will not know the answer.

Alternatively, when it comes to a human answering service, if they were ever unsure of an answer to a customer’s question, they would simply contact the business and ask. 

AI answering service vs human answering service

Artificial intelligence is certainly able to have conversations with people, however, there is an important question that your business should ask: are AI bots better than human receptionists? And more importantly, do customers really want to speak to a robot instead of a person?

There’s no doubt that an AI answering service can be cost-effective, but they’re not always able to answer complicated questions. For example, if a customer’s query is not related to the information that the bot has been programmed with, it’s unlikely to be able to provide a satisfactory answer.

However, what these systems are great at is simple data entry, such as appointment booking and straightforward call forwarding. On the flip side, a human answering service offers something AI systems will never be able to: real people, that can provide empathy and make callers feel valued and understood. 

Why you should pick VoiceNation over AI

While AI can provide many benefits to your business and customers, here at VoiceNation, we’d argue that it simply can’t compare to speaking with another person over the phone. Not only that, but VoiceNation’s live answering service can do the exact same thing, but with a personal touch.

Our receptionists are there 24/7 to answer your calls within seconds, consistently providing great customer service and increasing productivity for you and your team.

We understand that your customers are precious to you, which is why we give you amazing, trustworthy people you can rely on to make your callers smile. Don’t wait any longer, give your customers the first-class service they deserve.

Contact us today to learn more about our answering service and don’t forget to check out the rest of our blogs for more information on what VoiceNation can do for your business!