Live Answering Service vs. Voicemail: Which Is Better

Live Answering Service vs. Voicemail Which Is Better

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Businesses have a variety of options for fielding incoming phone calls. One option is a full-time staff capable of manning the phones around the clock. But when that is not possible, what is a business to do? Two of the more common strategies are live answering service and voicemail. Is one better than the other?

In our professional opinion, each of the two options has its pros and cons. We believe live answering services are the better solution for most scenarios. However, we recognize that some small businesses are better off with voicemail. The best way to answer the question for your company is to ask and answer the following questions:

1. What am I hoping to accomplish?

The first question is one of your goals for either an answering service or voicemail. What are you trying to accomplish? If you intend for an answering service to only take messages and forward them to you, voicemail accomplishes the same thing. But if you would prefer that your customers interact with live receptionists, there is no question about which option is better.

2. How urgent are most of my phone calls?

Urgency actually plays an important role here. If you are involved in an industry known for urgent phone calls, you are probably better off with a live answering service. Take a primary care physician. As a doctor expected to be on call after hours, voicemail just won’t do. Likewise for a property management company that may have to respond to after-hours emergencies.

On the other hand, urgency is not a real big issue for other types of businesses. Think of a sole proprietor who tunes pianos. Think of a carpet and contractor and his two or three employees. Most of their work comes from a chain DIY home improvement store. Voicemail would suffice for both types of businesses.

3. What do your customers expect?

As you consider the pros and cons of live answering services and voicemail, do not forget your customers. What do you suppose they expect when they call your office? If they are expecting a live person to answer, you should probably give them exactly that. There is no faster way to turn off customers than forcing them to use an automated phone system when they just want to talk to a person.

4. What does my budget look like?

Speaking of things to not forget, budget can never be taken out of the equation when a company is looking to contract outside services. There is only so much money in the budget. So if money is tight, you need to compare the cost of both live answering services and business voicemail. Then you need to consider how much bang you’ll get for your buck with both options.

Perhaps you determine that voicemail is cheaper on a month-two-month basis. But if using voicemail chases away customers, it is actually costing much more. Live answering services that make for happy and positive interactions could ultimately pay for themselves by driving business.

5. How frequently can I check messages?

Last but not least is the question of how frequently you can check messages. If you are the type of person who waits until the end of the day before taking a look at every voicemail that comes in, you could be missing out on important contacts. Perhaps it’s better to have a live answering service to take care of customers when you’re not available.

We recommend live answering services whenever possible. You can’t go wrong with the real person answering calls, taking messages, and providing basic customer service.

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