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Interactive Voice Response System vs Virtual Receptionist
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Interactive Voice Response System vs Virtual Receptionist

Many tools are available for your business to make call answering and dealing with customer enquiries more efficient.

One of these is potentially investing in an interactive voice response system to automatically direct callers to information or someone in your team who can help.

But is this service as good as it seems?

And how does it compare to a virtual receptionist?

That’s what we discuss in this blog.

What is an interactive voice response system?

An interactive voice response system is an automated response integrated into a business phone system that can ‘answer’ calls and direct calls from the caller using a series of menus and prompts.

Depending on the caller’s choices, the voice response system takes action – like directing the caller to a particular extension or team within your business.

One example is if a customer calls a business to ask about opening times.

You’ve likely come across this kind of system before.

When making a call to your bank, for example, you’ll be asked to choose between several options, keying the choice into your phone’s number pad to be directed to the right place.

For example: “Press one for customer service, two for account enquiries…” etc.

If the caller has a particularly complex issue they need help with, the options could eventually lead to the right person who can help.

Why use an interactive voice response system?

Most businesses that use this automated phone system predominantly use it to route callers to the information they need or the person they need to speak to.

For example, directing a customer toward the billing department or a supplier to the accounting department if they have a question about an invoice.

This system can be beneficial for directing a caller to the right person they need to speak to without manually transferring them.

It can also direct customers to information they need to complete an action, such as a bank customer enquiring about their balance or changing account information.

In this sense, an interactive voice response system can be helpful to automatically direct customers toward the right person or information they need.

What are the problems with an interactive voice response system? (and why virtual receptionists work better)

While there can be some benefits to using this type of call answering tool in your business, it can have some severe drawbacks:

1 – It’s automated

While it can direct customers towards the right person or information, every step they take up to that point is automated and requires them to do the work.

They have to navigate your numbered options to get to the person or get the information they want.

And they’ll have an automated, robotic voice talking to them the whole time, which might not be great if you’re looking to create a more personalised service.

With a virtual receptionist dealing with your phone calls, customers will always be greeted by a real person.

2 – It might not be clear which option is best

While a response system can connect your customers to the right people or information, it does require you to anticipate what they’ll be calling for, and it’s not always clear what the customer is meant to do.

For example, if a customer hears a bunch of options that don’t precisely match what they’re calling about, they’ll either hang up and go somewhere else or take a best guess.

If they end up talking to the wrong person, it’ll take time to understand their enquiry and get them to the right person – but you can guarantee they’ll be annoyed.

Similarly, suppose you’re trying to direct them towards a particular department.

In that case, it might not be obvious which department is best placed to deal with their enquiry, which again can be confusing.

Using a virtual receptionist, customers can explain their issues to an actual person, who will be able to direct them to the right person.

3 – It doesn’t work for complex enquiries

While it might be great for a customer to check their bank details via an automated voice system, when they’re calling with a complex enquiry, there’s no option for them to talk to your automated system.

Instead, they have to navigate your numbered system to (hopefully) end up speaking with the right person, at which point they’ll have to explain the problem for the first time.

If a virtual receptionist answers the phone, the customer can adequately explain their issue and be transferred to someone who can help.

Plus, the customer won’t have to repeat themselves because your virtual receptionist has already taken the initial information.

4 – It doesn’t always work the way you want

A voice response system isn’t foolproof, like any automated system, especially when you ask a customer to speak into the handset to navigate your system.

Many automated voice response systems can struggle with regional or strong accents.

It could get to the point where the customer is constantly saying the same thing on the phone with nothing happening.

Routing calls can also be a problem because this service is automated.

If the connected phone isn’t answered, the call will be routed to someone else, who might not be the right person to answer your customer’s question.

This again leads to the customer being rerouted to someone else and repeating themselves.

With a virtual receptionist, there’s a better chance of your customer being understood and having their call dealt with professionally, first time, every time.

Improve your customer service with a virtual receptionist

A virtual receptionist is a professional, personalised and cost-effective way to manage your business’ incoming calls and customer enquiries.

Rather than relying on automated systems that force customers to do all the work, a virtual receptionist can take the time to understand exactly what your customer needs to solve their problem and get them to the right person or information.

With a virtual receptionist on your team, you can be confident you’ll never miss a phone call, and all your calls will be answered professionally every time.

Customers will receive a personalised service that handles their enquiries quickly and efficiently.

And you’ll never have to worry about them getting stuck in a cycle of being rerouted from one phone to another.

If you want to know more about the benefits of hiring a virtual receptionist for your business, get in touch

11th October, 2022

Posted by Face For Business

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