Time for Virtual?

Brands which have been shuttered or partially closed because of COVID-19 might be wise to consider virtual receptionists to help manage consumer calls if they don’t have personnel deployed remotely to answer calls 24/7. Maintaining customer trust and loyalty will be even more important after the pandemic is over.

Even before the pandemic was declared, 67% of those surveyed by SalesForce said their expectations about brands were higher than ever. In 2019, CRM solutions provider SuperOffice reported that more than $62 billion is lost each year by brands because of bad consumer practices.

Probably the most critical discovery by SuperOffice was that 74% of respondents said they would probably select another business after a bad experience on the phone. On the other hand, 80% said a good experience would likely result in repeat business.

Invoca, a call-tracking company, estimated that consumers placed 140 billion click-to-calls last year that influenced $1 trillion in spending. At risk to poor customer service are brand perception and profit margins.

Gartner, an IT research firm, estimates that 85% of companies will convert to automated customer communications this year. According to Gartner, up to 80% of callers hang up and not leave a voicemail if their call isn’t answered and 44% will go on to dial a competitor.

How It Works

In an ideal setting, a virtual receptionist can perform several functions after answering a call. After a short greeting and determining the nature of the call, it can either forward the call to a “live” person, offer a voicemail option, or even send an email or text message of the caller’s voicemail.

Companies and professionals that would particularly benefit from virtual receptionists are real estate agents, contractors financial firms, and small business owners.

Selecting the Right Provider

There are numerous choices of virtual receptionists in the market. Brands seeking to employ one should consider the following when considering a service.

If the brand is located in the U.S., will the voices be American, and able to properly pronounce words or phrases associated with the brand? Nothing would destroy consumer confidence quicker than a virtual receptionist that can’t pronounce the brand correctly.

Does the service include “live” transfers and tailored call handling? What about personalized greetings?

If applicable to the company, can the service ask and gather information and schedule appointments for a visit, meeting or follow-up call? The support offered by the service is also important. Is “live” customer support available, if needed? And what kind of training and on-boarding is offered to orient users to the system?

Last but not least, be sure to inquire about the return of investment (ROI) the service has with its customers. Investing in a system to improve a brand’s ROI won’t mean much if the system being considered isn’t capable of demonstrating its own success.

If an investment is made in a virtual receptionist, ask customers for feedback. This will help to ensure that the service being provided is valuable and working. It will also enable marketers to make recommended and necessary adjustments to ensure even better receptivity in the future.

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