When you’re looking for a quality answering service that is cost-effective, you’re sure to come across many different types of answering services. Some services advertise themselves as a “live answering service” like we do. Others talk about offering “auto attendant” services, and for the uninitiated, the whole thing can seem a bit overwhelming.
In this post, we’ll outline the major differences between a live answering service vs auto attendant so you can make the best decision for your business when it’s time to select an answering service.
Live answering service vs auto attendant
A live answering service is one that staffs real, human agents to answer phone calls. We are a prime example of a live answering service because we do not provide any automated or IVR answering options – when your callers reach out to your business after you sign up for our service, they’ll always hear a friendly, live voice on the other line. They’ll never be faced with a list of menu options and the monotone instruction to “Press 1 for…”.
A live answering service has a staff of skilled, professional answering specialists that work either from a central office location (like our answering specialists do) or from remote locations around the nation or worldwide (like some other live answering services do). We believe it’s best to select an answering service that staffs full-time answering specialists onsite to ensure consistency and quality. Agents that work from home may not provide the same level of consistency, even though they’re answering calls live.
An auto attendant is another name for a “menu tree” that callers will reach instead of a friendly, live agent. If you’ve ever called customer service for a business and been directed to press a number for different options, you’ve experienced the frustration of an auto attendant first-hand. Auto-attendants can be helpful in some scenarios, like after-hours calls or on major holidays, but much of the time, using an auto attendant will repel customers and cause them to hang up as soon as they hear the tell-tale monotone computer “voice.”
Using an auto-attendant may be better than letting all calls go directly to voicemail, but the level of frustration it can cause among your customers is reason enough to avoid this option. Check out these statistics:
“If a caller has a bad IVR or auto attendant experience, more than 80% won’t ever use that company again. A national poll found that 70% of customers report bad customer service experiences to their friends – word of mouth marketing isn’t always positive. Many customers also take to the internet to tell others about their displeasure with a company’s customer service, posting negative reviews, blogging about the experience, or posting on social media about it.
The same survey found that the most preferred type of customer service was a live representative. Over 65% of the survey participants said they prefer to talk to a live person, while only 16% said they prefer IVR.” – Is IVR Hurting Your Customer Experience?
Choosing between a live answering service vs auto attendant
With this information in mind, it shouldn’t be difficult to choose between a live answering service and an auto attendant. However, for many companies, pricing is the final consideration. Many think that auto attendant services are cheaper than live answering services, but that’s not necessarily true.
While it may be a lower cost upfront to use an auto attendant service, the cost of the customer dissatisfaction you’re sure to accrue is worth considering. Recall the statistics from above – if 65% of customers prefer speaking to a live agent, it’s safe to say that this 65% majority would be quite likely to rate any experience with an auto attendant as “bad.” And more than 80% – 81.7%, to be exact – of those who have had a bad experience with an auto attendant or IVR system vow that they will never use the offending company again.
In short, if an auto attendant is cheaper at first look, consider why it’s cheaper – no skill or professionalism goes into your phone calls, and the automated nature tends to frustrate callers looking for a solution or human connection. It’s cheaper in the long run to stick with a live answering service vs auto attendant for this reason.