Automated Phone Answering - Poor Customer Service?

An automated phone answering system for your business may seem like it makes good sense when you consider that it eliminates the cost of a receptionist to answer all calls personally.  You might conclude that it’s an inexpensive way to expedite incoming phone calls, but you really need to consider the following:

  •     Public perception of these systems is negative.
  •     Often the “terminology” is confusing. 
    • (press 1 for collaboration tech support) or (press 2 for non-warranty technical help) or (press 7 if you would like to hear the menu again) “in case you weren’t paying attention the first three times, or you aren’t smart enough to know exactly which option you need.”
  •     There are often too many unclear choices.
  •     It’s even worse when they don’t work perfectly.
  •     You are entrusting your “best first impression” to an oft problematic machine.
  •     When things go wrong on the initial answer (machine pick-up), there is rarely an opportunity to repair the damage.
  •     People repeatedly say they want a live person.
  •     The opportunity to quickly solve customer service issues in needlessly delayed, or worse, it never gets resolved!
  •     Many times sales are lost as a result of caller frustration at not being able to get to the right person.
  •     The automated system enables employees to “distance” themselves from any urgency or immediacy.
    • It creates a company environment where the caller is not most important.
  •    Bottom Line:  It helps people hang up!  (It's kind of like saying:  "if it wasn't for these darn customers, I could get some work done!"

If you Google "Automated Phone Answering Systems," you find that they all list one of the major "benefits" as COST SAVING.  How sad that your first opportunity to make a great impression is relegated to "cost savings!"

altWe now live in a world where ONLY really isn’t only anymore.  It’s a rare situation when your business is so unique, so exclusive, so “one-of-a kind” that you can choose to distance yourself from callers by using an automated phone answering system for your business!  The only real differentiation you have today is CUSTOMER SERVICE.  Without the most awesome, incredible, problem solving customer service, you aren’t much different from all your competitors.
No, this isn’t some personal vendetta against this technology!  Yes, I have experienced many negative calls into a company where the automated system was lousy or in many cases, so bad that I simply hung up and went another route.  My decision to put this article on my Blog is solely intended to help businesses realize that automated phone systems are often a major deterrent to your ability to differentiate yourself by offering better customer service than your competitors!

Dick Wagner is a Disaster Restoration and Commercial Marketing Consultant.  419-202-6745