We’ve all been there as business owners when a call comes in that we really need to answer but can’t.
You’re already on a call, in a client meeting, or driving.
Try as you might, there’ll always be times when you just can’t get to those important phone calls.
Then the question becomes, what to do with the call?
For many, the answer is to let the call go to voicemail, hope the caller leaves a message, and get back to them as soon as you can.
But is that really the best way to deal with important business calls?
Here we look at the pros and cons of relying on an answering machine to deal with business calls.
Pros of using an answering machine4 – Screen calls from unknown numbers
1 – It’s cheap
One thing you can’t argue with when it comes to answering machines is they’re cheap.
If you use a mobile phone for business, they’re usually free as part of the service, and callers can just leave you a voicemail if you can’t get to the phone.
Most landline phones now also have answer machine features.
2 – 24/7 messaging
If you’re relying on people to answer your phones, there’ll always be a limit on the hours they can be available.
Even you can’t be around every hour of the day.
An answering machine solves this because callers can leave messages at any time of the day or night.
So it could be useful if you get lots of calls out of hours or late at night.
3 – You can record personal messages
A big problem with voicemail is the generic, robotic answering machine voice callers are ‘greeted’ with.
In a time when personalisation is such a big thing, these robotic voices don’t cut it.
You can get around this by recording a personalised message introducing yourself and your business.
At least this way, customers know they’ve called the right number, and there’s a real person behind the scenes – somewhere.
It’s a fact of life as a business owner that you’ll be inundated with sales and nuisance calls that get in the way of your day and stop you from working as effectively as you could.
With an answer phone, you can just send any number you don’t recognise to voicemail and check who the caller is before deciding whether or not to return the call.
Cons of using an answering machine
1 – It’s impersonal
Nearly a third of customers say not being able to reach a real person on the phone is the most frustrating part of a bad customer service experience.
Sure, it might be easier for you to send someone to voicemail and deal with their enquiry when you’ve got the time, but for the customer, being met with an automated response and an electronic mailbox is highly impersonal.
2 – Most customers don’t leave voicemails
What’s the harm of sending customers to an answering machine?
They’ll just leave a voicemail, and you’ll call them back when you get a chance.
The harm is that about 80% of customers don’t leave voicemails.
Instead, they just move on to the next business until someone does answer.
So if you’re relying on voicemail, you’re going to lose a lot of business.
This leads us to the next point.
3 – Most callers won’t call back
You might think it’s a safe bet that a customer who couldn’t get in touch with you on the first call will just try again later.
It might have been 10 years ago when they had less choice about who to buy from.
It’s not the same today. Customers have infinitely more choices compared to a decade ago and, today, are more likely to just move on to the next business if you send them to voicemail.
This is backed up by research by BTT Comms that found 85% of people whose calls are missed don’t call back.
4 – Voicemails are easy to miss
You know what it’s like when you’re busy. You’ll get a notification that you have a voicemail, and you’ll tell yourself to return the call as soon as you can.
Then you get busy. And you forget to return the call because you’ve missed that you had a voicemail to listen to.
By the time you’ve remembered, it could already be too late to win some new business, or you’ve left a customer waiting around, and they’re now considering whether or not to stay with you.
5 – It can cost you more in the long run
It’s easy to think of a free voicemail service as a cost saving for your business. And it can be if you’re only thinking very short term.
In the long run, though, it could cost you a lot more than another service, like a telephone answering service.
That’s because the average missed call costs businesses around £1,200 per missed call, according to research by BT Business.
According to the telecoms provider, missed calls could be costing businesses about £90m a year, which is a huge cost compared to investing in professional call answering.
6 – You might not be able to understand the message
You know what it’s like when you try to listen to a voicemail and you can’t understand what the person is saying. There are lots of reasons this happens.
They could be in a bad reception area. Their voice could be too quiet. Or background noise means you miss important bits of information.
Sometimes there can be a language barrier. When it happens, you’ve got a problem.
Because now you’ve asked someone to leave a detailed message so you can deal with a problem, and you don’t know what the problem is because you couldn’t understand them.
Luckily you’ll probably be able to call them back – unless they use a restricted number – but you’ll need to ask them to repeat everything they’ve already told your answering machine, and only then can you start to help.
How happy do you think they’re likely to be with that?
7 – Your voicemail can stop working
You probably take the fact your voicemail will work for granted. After all, it’s one of those bits of tech that just sits in the background, ignored until you need it.
But like any technology, it can glitch. And if it does, severely enough, you could lose access to your voicemails.
Then you’ve got no way of recovering messages or returning calls. And you’ll either lose new business, or a customer.
Telephone answering services: A better alternative to voicemail
If you thought voicemail was the answer to your call-answering problems but are starting to see signs it may not be working the way you hoped, then a telephone answering service could be the best alternative.
With a telephone answering service, you’ll never miss an inbound call because you’ll have a team of PAs who’ll deal with calls for you.
Your customers (and potential customers) will always be met by a human voice who’ll act as the customer face of your company.
They’ll deal with calls exactly as you want, ensuring you get accurate, reliable, timely messages when needed so you can return calls properly.
Not only that, a telephone answering service can save you time and money by having you removed from sales lists and can even act as a lead qualification resource for your sales team.
Want to find out if a telephone answering service is the answer to your customer service?
13th November, 2023
Posted by Face For Business