There is never a second chance to make a first impression, especially in a competitive business environment. Companies that want to deliver an experience that supports the corporate brand and represents its values need to start at the first point of contact: the telephone answering system.
How many times have you heard, “Thank you for calling ABC (company). If you know your party’s extension, you may dial it at any time. For customer service, press 1. For technical support, press 2. For hours and location, press 3. For accounting, press 4. For a dial-by-name directory, press 4. For the operator, press 5.”
For countless callers, these telephone systems are tiresome, ineffective and just plain unwelcoming. Complaints range from limited information to difficulty in navigating the menus. Regardless of the reason behind the dissatisfaction, negative experiences have serious consequences for companies, including driving business away. A 2012 nationwide poll of 2,000 respondents commissioned by Interactions Corporation (a company that provides virtual assistant applications) indicated 83 percent say they will avoid a company or stop giving it business after a poor experience with an automated phone system. Even for the caller lucky enough to get through to a real human being, the first interaction may be less than positive, especially if calls are unnecessarily or unprofessionally screened.
In business, where success is contingent upon creating, building and maintaining relationships, making a good first impression is essential. Yet, for many companies, the first point of contact with potential clients, customers, vendors and associates often is an impersonal and annoying automated attendant. Think about it, what does your first point of contact say about your company and your brand?