The software industry has automated a lot of things and saved a lot of time. Small business telephone answering software is not one of those things.Most businesses are still what we like to call human to human. When you call into any sort of business you want to speak with another person.

  • You have a question
  • You want to buy something
  • You want to book an appointment

Software just doesn’t do that well.

Now, let me say that done right an auto attendant is not a bad thing. The issue is that most people who use small business telephone answering software to set up an auto attendant do a bad job of creating that auto attendant.

The key to using telephone answering software, whether it’s RingCentral, a service from the telecom or software installed on your office’s phone service, is ensuring people calling have an easy way to talk to a human.

Don’t make people jump through hoops and multiple levels of press this or that only to get to another menu. Give them an easy way to talk to a human.

Different Questions for the Same Issue

Have you ever called the toll free number for your bank and waded through the deep multi-level menus they have on there telephone answering software auto attendant?

You know you’re having an issue with your debit card. Let’s say you need to get it replaced, but you’re not exactly sure what menu option is the right one. After all, they don’t come right out and say “for debit card replacement press 5”.

This is a common issue of automated answering software systems. You create the menu, but you, as the business owner or manager, have specific knowledge about your company and industry.

What you call something may not be what a current or prospective customer might think it’s called. For this reason, complex auto attendant systems will lose you more customers than get them.

If you must have an auto attendant make it easy for the caller to speak with a live person. This way the caller can describe the issue they’re experiencing or ask their question to a live person.

Alternatives to Small Business Phone Software

Rather than software, there are live answer virtual receptionist services. These services are offsite and will answer every incoming call with a live person. The cost is likely more than answering software, but you’ll reduce the chance of losing any new business.

As mentioned above, having an auto attendant setup that gives 2-4 options for a caller, one of which is a live person to speak with isn’t a bad idea. You can then connect the “speak with a live person” option to a virtual reception service.

This solves the issue of needing an in-house receptionist but doesn’t increase your costs by sending every call to a live answer service.

Not Every Business Needs a Receptionist

It isn’t every small business that can afford an on staff receptionist. Not all businesses receive enough call volume to justify an in-house receptionist, even if they can afford it.

This is why small business telephone answering software is so attractive. It appears to solve a real problem. However, unless the business owner is tracking their inbound phone call metrics, they may think the software is doing a fantastic job.

Before you decide on using software to answer your company’s phone, explore your options. Grab our free demo video that shows how we handle inbound calls for our client’s businesses.