Why Your Customers Want to Talk to a Real Person
Many years ago, to save money, companies began to automate their incoming telephone calls. Though this reduced expenses, it also upset customers. In response to the backlash of frustrated callers, companies are now switching back to having real people talk to their customers.This is where a live answering service enters the picture and provides the ideal solution: Personal service customers want at a cost-effective price the company can afford.
Yes, there is an appropriate place for automation, such as checking on account balances, verifying order status, or obtaining basic company information. Call automation—often called automated attendant—may also be useful in leaving routine information, such as canceling a subscription, updating a mailing address, or changing a credit card number. Of course, this only works when the caller leaves clear and complete information. If there’s any confusion, then a real person needs to call back for clarification. And this defeats the whole purpose of automation.
However, for most applications, having real people—that is, live telephone agents—handle calls is the best solution. The human touch elevates customer satisfaction over cost savings, and this is in the best interest of your company. Consider these key reasons why the personal approach of real people beats the impersonal drone of automation.
People Can Respond to Specific Requests
What happens when a customer calls and encounters the options provided by an automated attendant? With growing impatience, they listen to the prompts. None of them fit the reason for their call. Frustrated, they press zero, hoping to talk to a real person. At this point the caller is agitated. This isn’t the setting that delights customers.
However, when a live person answers the call, the interaction begins before the customer has a chance to become angry. This establishes the potential for effective communication, but it can only occur when a real person is there at the beginning of the call. People, not automation, can best respond to the nuanced requests of callers to meet their needs quickly and effectively.
People Boost Customer Service
In parallel to properly responding to a varied list of caller concerns is the issue of customer service. Seldom will a caller encounter a recording and conclude that the customer service was great.
Instead they need a personal touch from another human being for the potential of great customer service to occur.
To maximize this potential, a popular solution is to use a live answering service to handle incoming calls. Telephone answering service agents are trained to offer professional communication over the phone and to do so with a high level of excellence that’s hard to beat.
People Enhance Customer Retention
As customer service levels improve, the long-term outcome is elevated customer retention. Though no customers can be retained indefinitely, each additional month and year they continue as your customer serves to increase the number of orders they place and enhance their lifetime value to your company.
The personal and professional touch of live telephone agents serve as the critical element to enhance customer retention. After all, isn’t that what customers want? Real people serving them in real time? The staff at a live answering service is poised to do this whenever your customers call, 24/7, providing accessible around-the-clock coverage.
People Adapt to Changing Requests
What happens when a caller, three levels deep into an automated attendant recording, presses the wrong button? There’s no option for a do-over. There’s no delete key on a telephone. There’s no easy way to go back and fix their mistake.
They have two options. The first is hang up and start over. This is both frustrating and time-consuming. The other is to press zero and hope a real person answers and can reroute the call appropriately.
This whole dilemma is avoided when talking to another person. A human being can easily make the adjustment and switch the purpose of the call at any point during the conversation.
Live telephone agents are also great at being able to handle multiple requests during one call. This is much unlike the pre-programmed recordings of an automated attendant system, which can only handle one transaction per call.
Automation Irritates Callers
Telephone automation does many things to frustrate callers. First, it’s highly impersonal.
If you’re selling high-ticket items or have customers with a significant lifetime value, do you want to trust that relationship to computer automation?
No. You want real people to handle your customers’ calls with care and precision.
Another way telephone automation frustrates callers is when it misinterprets their button-pushing or can’t understand what they said. Though speech recognition software is mostly reliable, it sometimes produces head-scratching results that are both humorous and highly irritating.
Invariably, the frustrated caller will repeat their request, this time with greater intention and increased volume. This seldom helps. After their third or fourth failure, the irate caller is now yelling at the nonsensical computer who can’t understand them.
Then, when a real person finally gets on the line, the caller forgets to turn down their volume. Again, communication is hampered when things escalate to this point.
Another area in which telephone automation frustrates callers is by providing options that don’t align with what they want to accomplish. A confused caller tries to determine which of six options they should try to force their question into.
Invariably they guess wrong and end up talking to a person in the wrong department. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if they could just reach a live person right away and explain their situation?
Automation Causes Hang-Ups
Some people will hang up as soon as they hear a recording. Is this any way to treat someone who might want to place an order? Other people grow weary of hearing series after series of options that don’t fit their situation.
After too many prompts that bring them no closer to their objective, they hang-up in frustration. What about systems that block all attempts to talk to a human being?
As soon as the caller realizes they can’t complete their objective, they give up and hang up. And maybe they’re hanging up on your business forever.
This isn’t to say a live answering service never encounters hang-ups, but be assured that the number of hang-ups on a real person are significantly less than with an impersonal computer system.
Automation Fails to Impress Callers
Can you imagine ever being complimented on the quality of the recordings on your automated attendance system? No, I suspect not. Has anyone ever been impressed with how quickly they could navigate your menu tree to get the answer they needed or to talk to the person who can handle their question? Not likely.
In reality, the only people impressed with automation are technology geeks and the company that provided the computerized system. Yes, the technological promise of telephone automation can intrigue, but it will seldom impress a caller looking for a quick and accurate response to their call.
Instead it’s the personal approach of professional telephone agents who are most likely to impress callers with their effective communication skills and ability to get the job done. This requires the trained staff at a telephone answering service.
Don’t trust your calls to automation when the smart move is to trust them to the professional staff at a live answering service. Selecting the right answering service can make the difference between telephone success and telephone failure. Skip automation and go with the pros.
About Peter DeHaan
Peter DeHaan, is CEO of Peter DeHaan publishing which produces print media periodicals and Internet-based publications, as well as media and informational websites. In addition, and TAS Trader. Notable websites and publications include: TAS Trader, which focuses exclusively on the needs, concerns, and opportunities of the Telephone Answering Service (TAS) Industry. It is written by the TAS Industry and is for the TAS Industry. Connections Magazine, which is the premier magazine for the Teleservices Call Center Industry and is distributed to qualified readers at call centers, contact centers, teleservice agencies, telephone answering services, and telemessaging companies.