From a business standpoint, automated phone systems are a no-brainer. They take advantage of modern technology, helping to manage a large volume of incoming calls while saving businesses money in the process. From a customer’s perspective, however, dealing with a poorly-designed automated phone system can be a challenging ordeal.
Before you jump in and install the cheapest system that you can find, you should think about how your phone system impacts your business. When you consider that it is one of the primary points of contact between you and your customers, it is easy to see why it is so important to choose a high-quality system that is easy and efficient to use.
In fact, if you aren’t careful, your phone system could wind up negatively impacting your company’s reputation. For instance, if customers are forced to listen to a long introductory message, they may hang up before they even have a chance to hear any of the available options.
Potential Downsides Associated With Automated Phone Systems
A poorly designed phone system could reflect negatively on your business. Even if you choose the right system, you also have to use caution when setting it up, making sure that all of the options are useful to callers and that none of your messages are too long. Another mistake businesses make is making customers go through too many steps to find the information that they need. It should be fast and easy for them to accomplish whatever it is they are trying to do when they call in.
Nothing is more frustrating than calling a company, wasting time listening to a bunch of different options, selecting an option, and then finding out that the business is currently closed. Situations like this can irritate customers. In some cases, it may even drive them away.
1- Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) Doesn’t Always Make Things Better
IVR allows customers to speak their choices rather than pressing buttons on their phone. The idea behind these systems is that they are more convenient for customers to use since they don’t have to take the phone away from their ear to find the number they want to press.
In theory, these systems are a great idea since they help streamline the process. In practice, however, they sometimes fail to perform the way they were designed to, leading to frustration and potentially driving customers away.
For instance, in 2012, the Birmingham City Council installed an IVR system that cost £11 million. Unfortunately, the system was unable to decipher the regional accent, rendering it practically useless.
2- Customers May Feel like They Are Wasting Their Money
Oftentimes, automated phone systems, such as those from Office Answers, are used with premium phone numbers that charge customers based on the length of their call. That means that customers are being charged money for every minute that they stay on the line. If they call in and encounter an automated system, it can be incredibly frustrating – especially if there are a ton of different menu options that they have to wade through before they can talk to a real person.
When customers do finally reach someone, they may be irate, making them difficult to deal with. This can lead to a high turnover rate for employees.
Of course, all of these problems can be prevented by purchasing a high-quality system and setting it up the right way. When used correctly, automated phone systems can help streamline the call process, saving customers time and money.
Benefits Of Automated Phone Systems
1- Easy To Install
Most automated phone systems can be installed in a day or less. Additionally, because the system is usually hosted off-site, businesses don’t have to worry about any disruptions while it is being installed.
2- Multiple Options For Routing Calls
Most modern phone systems have the ability to route calls to a variety of different lines. That means that you can choose whether you want your calls routed to a mobile phone or to a landline, providing you with a lot of versatility in terms of how your system is set up. Each individual extension also has its own voicemail box.
3- Built-In Call Handling Features
Call handling is one of the primary functions of any automated phone system. In terms of the customer experience, it is one of the most important aspects of any system.
A system that is set up correctly should make it fast and easy for people to reach the department or person that they are looking for. They shouldn’t have to jump through a lot of hoops to find what they need. Having too many options can make the system cumbersome to use, leaving customers feeling frustrated.
Nothing is more irritating than calling a business, spending a ton of time going through multiple menus, and finally getting a message that says to call back later since the office is closed.
Efficiency should be at the heart of any automated system, helping customers reach the party they are calling for as quickly and painlessly as possible.
4- Increased Business Revenue
One of the most controversial aspects of automated phone systems is that businesses can use them to generate additional revenue. For instance, some retail businesses have their system set up so that customers can call in using a free phone number when they are ordering a product. However, if they want to return the product, they have to call a different number that charges a premium rate.
Although this doesn’t happen often, it does happen. Sometimes, businesses see it as a way of recouping some of their return-related expenses.
Some people believe that companies abuse automated phone systems, using them to generate income instead of simply as a way of handling calls. They accomplish this by setting up the system on a premium rate phone number. They then add numerous menu options, keeping customers on the line for as much time as they can. This drives the rate of each phone call up. In many cases, premium phone number services share their profits with the businesses that use them. By keeping customers on the line longer, businesses may be able to earn more of this revenue.
The Bottom Line
As a general rule of thumb, however, businesses should avoid using these phone systems as a way of generating income. Instead, they should focus on the other ways that these systems can save money for their business. For instance, by automating the process of dealing with incoming calls, they can reduce the need for operators, helping to keep labor costs down.
Before you install one of these phone systems for your business, it is worth weighing the pros and cons.
When used correctly, they can improve efficiency, ensuring that your customers are able to reach the party they are calling for as quickly as possible. The key to success is to configure them properly so that they provide users with a good overall experience.
When you transition to an automated phone system, you may initially experience some resistance from your customers. This is only natural since they are used to being able to talk directly to a person when they call in. To avoid any conflicts or hurt feelings, make sure to regularly reach out to your customers through other methods to let them know that they are still appreciated.