How you respond to your customers’ communication needs can substantially impact how they view your business. A HubSpot survey of 100 consumers revealed that 99% think high customer service standards are essential. When respondents were asked to rank customer standards in order of importance, “be responsive to customer inquiries” was the number one pick.
To achieve this, businesses must respond to every customer request with speed and efficiency. A strong first response strategy that includes an efficient phone AI assistant can be the most effective way to meet customer expectations.
What is a Phone AI Assistant?
Sometimes called a smart AI receptionist, a phone AI assistant is software that greets customers and resolves basic needs. The system uses artificial intelligence to understand customer needs and perform specific tasks that help them meet their goals.
Businesses that use a phone AI assistant can ensure that calls don’t go unanswered due to high call volume or a staff shortage. Your AI assistant will answer calls in the same manner as live receptionists and take steps to begin resolving their requests. While AI assistants can’t match the problem-solving abilities of humans, they perform multiple tasks efficiently.
An AI-powered phone assistant can get your callers to the right person and screen out unwanted calls with these actions:
- Answer calls in your company name with a scripted response that provides business information and other information you choose
- Forward callers to extensions, voicemail, or mobile phones
- Request the caller’s name before accepting a transfer
- Receive email messages
- Recognize spam callers and block them to help employees avoid wasted time
How Can a Phone Assistant Improve Customer Service for Small Businesses?
Small businesses are often short-staffed and working on a tight budget. It’s common for workers in these companies to take on multiple roles. As a result, it can be difficult to be immediately available to respond to customer calls. Artificial intelligence in customer communication acts as an extension of your staff to address common requests or questions more efficiently. Integrating an AI assistant into your communication strategy allows you to:
Provide a Swift Response
Excessive wait times and multiple calls to resolve a situation are among the top customer service complaints. Consumers expect businesses to have the resources to provide an immediate response when they call. Putting your customers on hold is only a reasonable solution if you can follow up within a few minutes. Failing to answer a call at all can make your company look unprofessional and lead customers to turn elsewhere for better service.
A phone AI assistant will ensure that you never miss a call and take steps to immediately route calls in the right direction. This response lets customers know they’ve reached the right number and that your company values their time. Since you can customize the software to forward callers to your choice of voicemail, extensions, mobile phones, or email, you can act quickly to provide resolutions.
Free Staff Members to Focus on Complex Tasks
Your administrative staff may spend a surprising amount of time greeting customers and routing their calls. Spending a few moments on each call (including wrong numbers and spam) can interrupt workflows and add up to multiple hours on the phone.
An AI assistant uses machine learning and pre-installed commands to complete basic tasks that are usually taken care of by administrative personnel. The software essentially acts as an extension of your team to provide specific services. When these requirements are eliminated, staff members can concentrate on high-value tasks like answering questions and resolving issues to provide an improved customer experience.
Administer Personalized Service
A phone AI assistant is designed to collect information from customers and use it to provide an actionable response. The assistant can be tailored to different industries and use company-specific language. The resulting interaction feels more like a human conversation than those provided by an answering service or phone menu.
Resolve Issues More Efficiently
When all messages go to a general business inbox, they are usually sorted before responses can be crafted. This can lead to long wait times for customers. An AI assistant automatically routes customer calls to voicemail, mobile phones, or extensions to immediately alert the appropriate personnel about a customer concern. Depending on your chosen routing method, staff members can immediately answer the call from a connected mobile phone or review messages and return calls quickly.
Eliminate the Runaround
Answering calls quickly is only useful if you can provide your customers with adequate solutions to their needs. Unfortunately, this often means a caller is shifted through multiple departments before getting an issue resolved. Just like long wait times, the customer service runaround is a waste of your customers’ time.
An AI assistant automatically routes calls as directed based on unique handling rules dictated by your business requirements. Whether you route calls to mobile phones, extensions, or an answering service, you can ensure the right employee is available to provide an accurate resolution to your customer inquiries.
Cut Business Costs with a Phone AI Assistant
Improving your customer service enables you to provide a high-quality customer experience. Satisfied customers are more likely to become loyal customers and can even help you expand your customer base through referrals. However, there are other ways a phone AI assistant can help you save money.
- Easy setup allows you to eliminate tasks like interviewing applicants and training, letting you get started quickly.
- The AI assistant works 24/7 so your receptionists can work fewer hours and you can cut overtime costs.
- Smaller teams can get more done when a phone AI assistant takes care of basic repetitive tasks.
- The spam blocker automatically detects unwanted calls and blocks them, saving your employees time that can be spent serving real customers.
- Avoid the costs of customer turnover caused by long wait times and abandoned calls.
Choosing Between a Live Receptionist and a Phone AI Assistant
A phone AI assistant isn’t designed to replace humans. In fact, you won’t find one advanced enough to take care of all your business phone communications. However, in many cases, an AI assistant will provide your administrative team with the support they need to save time while quickly and efficiently addressing customer needs. Determining the best solution for your company often requires making a choice between a live receptionist and a phone AI assistant.
A live receptionist performs many of the same tasks as an AI assistant. For example, both services allow you to avoid missed calls and route calls to the correct person. Your customers receive a scripted company greeting no matter which they encounter. You can also use either service to forward calls to voicemail, extensions, or mobile phones. However, there are specific differences that may make one a better choice for your company.
If you’re trying to determine which type of answering service is right for your company, these checklists can help you make the right choice.
Signs an AI Phone Assistant is Right for Your Business
- Your business needs an effective way to answer calls quickly and efficiently.
- You need a solution that answers calls after hours.
- Saving money is a top priority.
- A customizable solution is required to route calls to the right staff member.
- Your goal is to assist staff members with AI support that takes care of basic tasks.
Signs You May Need a Live Receptionist
- Your business needs a real person to answer calls, set appointments, and provide basic business information.
- You’re looking for a solution that answers calls on Saturdays and holidays.
- HIPAA compliance is essential for your business.
- You want to save money in comparison to hiring an on-site receptionist but want your customers to be greeted by a real person.
- Your goal is to provide callers with white-glove service during business hours.
You likely now have a clear understanding of how live receptionists and phone AI assistants serve many of the same purposes—but each has distinct advantages. In some cases, you may need features from both systems. Luckily, they can be used in tandem. For instance, you can use a phone AI assistant to manage calls after hours when live reception is not available.
Improving Your Customer Service with the Right Phone AI Assistant
The ability to rapidly respond to customer calls and provide flexible options that meet their needs is an essential part of a satisfactory experience. An AI phone assistant customized to your unique operations can provide customers with the answers they need, when they need them.
The Intelligent Answer Bot from Phone.com is an AI-powered virtual reception service that routes callers according to your instructions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Setup is easy and customizable, allowing you to get started almost immediately. Sign up today to discover all the benefits of an effective phone AI assistant and begin providing your customers with improved customer service.