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Live answering

Deciding between voicemail or a phone answering and messaging service 

Samuel Howieson
Samuel Howieson
Live answering

For anyone running a business, whether it’s big or small, chances are there have been times when the tasks are so overwhelming that the phones have been left unmanned. It could mean that you’ve missed out on a lot of potential leads. If hiring a receptionist is out of the question, then you’re only left with two options on messaging solutions, which are: voicemail or a live call answering service. Now, the question is: which one should you choose?

What is voicemail?

A voicemail is a computer-based system which allows callers to leave voice messages to your assigned number. Depending on your setup, you can record the voice prompt that greets callers or get a professional to do the greeting for you.

Pros of Voicemail

1. The right message each time

What you hear is what you get when it comes to voicemail. There won’t be miscommunication because you’re hearing the message straight from the source. However, the only possible way for the message to be misconstrued is if the message breaks up because of a signal issue or if the message is accidentally deleted.

2. Always available when needed

You can access voicemail messages anytime. As long as you have your mobile with you, you can dial into your phone system to retrieve voice messages.

3. No additional fees

Regardless of the mobile carrier or phone system you’re using, there are no extra fees when using voicemail. It’s part of your monthly bill, and no matter how many voice messages you get, there is no extra fee to store or listen to these voicemails.

Cons of Voicemail

1. Delayed response time

You’re unlikely to check voicemails at every minute. So, chances are while you’re on the job, a customer has sent an urgent message only to be left on voicemail. By the time you get to the message, the customer has already moved on to another provider who immediately attended to their needs.

2. Robotic and impersonal

Customers are always hoping to get you on the line. So, if they end up taking to a recorded message advising them to leave a message, they’re likely to hang up – even if you have the liveliest voicemail greeting on the phone.

3. Voicemail is full

When your voicemail is full and you don’t regularly check the messages, then you’ve most likely sent away callers with the automated message that goes: “The voicemail box of the person you’re trying to reach is full and cannot accept new messages at this time.” So, they’re likely to keep calling until someone picks up the call or move on to another business that can quickly answer their phone calls and provide them with their needs.

What is a live answering service?

In a live phone answering and messaging service, a professional operator takes the call. Depending on your setup, the operator provides the answers that your callers are looking for or takes a message for you. The caller’s details and message are then sent to you via email and text messages. On the other hand, the operator can also transfer the call to you if you’re available.

Pros of live answering

1. Available 24/7

With live answering, you always have a professional operator ready to answer calls round-the-clock or depending on your setup. Every inbound call is captured whether it’s on overflow, after business hours, or when you’re on a holiday.

2. More personal and friendly

Every time a customer calls your number, the call is answered by a professional and friendly operator. With a human on the other line, your customer is more likely to be comfortable about sharing their concerns. Some callers find it easier to speak to a live operator than leave a message with a machine as their needs are immediately addressed. Plus, any questions they may have will be quickly addressed rather than having to leave a multitude of questions via voicemail.

3. Quick response time

With an operator to answer all incoming calls at any time of the day, you address all calls at once, including emergencies. Also, depending on your live answering setup, you can choose to have the call connected immediately to you.

4. Advanced features

Live answering services come with a host of add-ons or advanced features such as appointment setting, cold or warm transfers, email and text notification for new messages.

Cons of live answering

1. Expensive

Live answering or messaging services aren’t exactly cheap. If you factor in advanced features that come with the service such as appointment setting and warm transfers, then you’re likely to pay a hefty price.

Deciding between voicemail and a messaging service

Choosing between a voicemail and a live answering service all boils down to your business needs and call volume. If you’re just starting out, then a voicemail service is recommended as it’s a cost-effective means of capturing all calls. No matter the number of voice messages you get in a day, voicemail costs are generally included in your monthly phone bill.

On the other hand, a live answering and messaging service are best if you get numerous calls in a day, even after business hours. You can choose to have one or two operators to send and receive the messages from each caller to your designated phone numbers. Also, it’s a great option for overflow calls. When your employees can’t answer all the calls, incoming calls are rerouted to an answering service.

As for when you’re on a holiday, either of the two message service works. A customer can leave a message on your voicemail or an operator can take the call for you. Again, choosing between the two depends on what you need and the amount of calls you get in a day.

Get one or both services at Alltel

Alltel offers both voicemail and live phone answering and messaging service, so you don’t have to choose. You can opt for voicemail or our voice2email service that sends the recording as an attachment to your email. Alternatively, you can also choose to set up a live answering service for your inbound number – this way you never miss out on any call. Unlike other live answering services in the market, we offer affordable plans starting at $15 a month. Contact us at 1300 255 835 or visit us at www.alltel.com.au for more information.


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