AI Phone Answering Service for Business
At Perfect Reception we have been exploring the use of AI as part of our products and services, and we have recently launched Pepper Potts who is our Virtual Telephone Answering Service. We don’t believe that the bots will be over taking the humans anytime soon, and indeed our clients are telling us as much. But there may be some that would quite like the novelty of trying AI, perhaps at certain times of the day so we have developed what we consider to be the best tool out there, feel free to give ‘her’ a try!
The Benefits of AI in Business Telephone Answering
As you will have seen, our AI known as ‘Pepper’ is specifically trained to be Perfect Reception’s enquiry management and incoming calls response service for anytime our agents are busy working for our clients. Pepper is continuously learning, so the more the calls and information that is received, the brighter and more responsive Pepper will become to more complex enquiries. We have wrestled around the morale and ethical questions around whether we plan to call Pepper an ‘it’ or a assign a human gender given we have created a human caricature around the AI but we have settled on referring the AI as ‘’ Pepper’ or ’it’ in the narrative below..
We have spent several months working on Pepper and testing and at this stage we are yet to offer the product to our customers and will be testing via our own incoming enquiries when they come through online and via the telephone (you can reach Pepper via our telephone number during out of hours).
To be honest, we are still ironing out issues but within the next few months we would expect the AI telephone answering service to be configurable around any clients needs and undertake perhaps the general information you would expect a human to give you should you call up requiring either information, or to be transferred to a named individual or department.
What AI can do and what AI can’t do
What AI cannot do in this particular context, is process complex information or instinctively manage more challenging calls. And that’s a very key difference between our telephone answering teams and the AI at the moment. It could be a client of one of our legal service customers who is under acute emotional stress, or it could be an angry client’s customer who feels that have an immediate issue that needs resolving.
It is here that the our AI would likely struggle and that’s why we have no plans whatsoever to replace our humans with AI, we expect it to become an overflow cost friendly alternative (particularly outside traditional office hours). If you wish to learn more about configuring our AI as a telephone answering solution for your business please get in touch.
A little bit of History from automated Phone Systems to AI driven Telephone Answering
In recent years, technology has delivered automated telephone answering systems that are popularly known in the Industry and IVRs (Interactive Voice Response Systems). These have been around for many years and are often deployed by financial industry corporations to create efficiency in their call centres, but funnelling calls in specific routes taking automated payments, or placing people in managed call waiting times. In more recent years functionality has been added to provide slightly more customer friendly solutions, such as managed call backs to save customers waiting for prolonged periods of time to talk to an appropriately qualified human being.
The issue with all of this, is that whilst is may have saved companies huge sums of money due to reduced headcount, the customer experience is often unsatisfactory and very few of us have come away from one of these experiences (which we all now encounter almost daily) with a more positive view of the business we were trying to call.
The Telephone Answering Industry
Businesses like Perfect Reception and other competitors of ours in the industry such as Moneypenny, have worked hard over the years to provide a cost-effective alternative option to businesses so that they don’t need to rely on automated solutions, and have their telephone calls answered promptly and professionally, by an informed human. Whilst there is a great deal of efficiency in using a telephone answering service (calls centres such of ours manage a range of difference clients during the day, we can work hard to keep costs down through improved efficiency); some customers still believe it to be an expensive option, particularly during out of hours service where call charges can be higher but it would still make business sense to have incoming enquiries around products and services, or urgent calls managed 24 hours of the day and throughout the weekends.
Pepper Potts, Perfect Reception’s AI Solution
The difference between today’s product offering via AI for telephone answering services, and the historical solutions, is that an AI answering service deploys artificial intelligence to answer incoming calls and enquiries in a way that makes it much harder to distinguish between a human receptionist or a robot.
There is a key point here that we are making, and it differs from what you may read elsewhere and in that, we appreciate it is subjective. At Perfect Reception, we don’t believe that at this stage (albeit things are changing very quickly) that you could not tell the difference between a human and a robot if you were notionally aware that it could be one or the other, and we certainly don’t believe that any customer should be tricked into thinking they are talking to a human when they are not. Our AI has been told to identify themselves as an automated receptionist, and outline briefly what they will and won’t be able to do, and; within those perimeters, deliver an exceptional service to whoever is making the incoming call. Until we are convinced Pepper can do this, we will not be progressing our test to a real time environment.
In this way, we believe that we are working to achieve the best of all worlds. We don’t want (and currently our customers don’t want) robots to be managing the phones all the time, and from our perspective, whilst the AI may develop and refine much quicker than we imagine, our belief is that the market will require us mixing the latest in AI technology with the unmistakable reassurance of humans. However, it is important to reiterate that it is human telephone answering that will be the preferred solution for the majority of customers in our industry for many years to come.
No need to make a Choice between AI vs: Humans for Telephone Answering
There can be no question that the remarkable rise of AI even as recently as 2023 and into 2024 has meant that the option of AI across a range of sectors has become very real and, in many cases, will increase productivity at a remarkable level. If we look at the NHS for instance, the ability of AI to diagnose, treat and assist in managing chronic illness could be revolutionary. But will it replace the friendly face of a local GP anytime soon? We don’t think so.
So how AI will be deployed and the relationship between AI and humans right up to the point of governance by our national and international leaders is possibly the defining question of the 21st century. We will leave that one to the powers that be and focus on our own AI solution here at Perfect Reception. Our view is that a tailored solution for our customers telephone answering service will always be the way we approach our business, and if Pepper is part of the mix, it is a pleasure to introduce that service.
The future of AI and call centres
As this article is written (January 2024), we still believe that humans have considerably better problem-solving skills in many fields, than artificial intelligence. Our own AI can answer questions, and even have a conversation but it continues to operate in what is known as a ‘closed domain’ meaning there are limits on what it can discuss. Frankly, at certain times of day, this may well be a good thing. Most of our customers require a prompt, professional and friendly service that automatically gets to the point of the call. But small talk, polite chat about the weather and being able to read the tone is what makes us human. It is one of the things that defines us, and always will define us. Our humans will have had conversations on behalf of our customers many times and will use their intuition to ‘read the room’. They will always go the extra mile. That’s why we don’t believe AI will ever fully replace humans when managing incoming calls and enquiries for companies that genuinely care about their own customers.
Perfect Reception’s Phone Answering Service
Telephone Answering services and Technology
The purposes of Technology for Business Telephone Answering
How will things look at the end of 2024 for Business Telephone Answering?
Why choose Perfect Reception?
Stop worrying about missing enquiries or taking unnecessary calls. Focus on growing your business. Let us provide the support you deserve and a professional front to your company.