On June 5, 1944, having decided to authorize the invasion of Nazi-occupied France, Supreme Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower went to the Allied soldiers who were gathered in preparation. Eisenhower knew it was important for him to speak in person to these men, to express the gravity of what was about to happen and to encourage them. He was not alone in his perception that they needed to hear his voice. Regardless of how well-written documents are, human beings always place greater value on what they hear rather than what they read. The converse of that notion is true as well. We place real value upon being able to speak to someone whom we believe will pay attention to what we say and will respond appropriately. This is particularly true in our important business communications.
Spoken Words Add Another Level of Depth to What We Mean
Written words have the ability to be very precise and nuanced. They are considered a “cold” medium because writing—in letters, text messages and emails—typically implies being thoughtful and choosing your words carefully. Spoken words, whether during a face-to-face conversation or over the telephone, are considered a “hot” medium, implying that the spoken word is more direct. Spoken words are more revealing because listeners can hear your emotions in your words. The tone with which you speak can totally change the meaning of what you are saying. This is, in large measure, the reason so many service companies rely upon an answering service rather than voicemail to gather their business messages. Execs want live respondents to be able to interact with those who call.
Written Words Confirm What Spoken Words Have Decided
You might ask, if the spoken word is so important, why are contracts, legal instructions and extremely sensitive information all written down? Obviously, written words are time capsules, intended to capture thoughts and decisions indefinitely. The reality is, however, every legal contract, memorandum of understanding and other important document is a written record of what was verbally discussed and decided. One interesting article comparing writing and spoken language makes the observation that spoken language is superior to written language because it allows the speaker to connect, not merely with another individual but with a group of people simultaneously. Written language, it suggests, developed as a form of technology meant simply to synthesize the spoken word. The reality of this is borne out in that every important legal and business document is a synthesized version of spoken agreements.
The Top Service Industries Rely on Live Voice
This relates back to the reality that service industries rely almost exclusively on live voice communications with their customers. In fact, many service-oriented businesses have ceased employing individuals dedicated to answering customer service calls and instead have begun engaging professional answering services such as Voicenation. Such answering services are not only able to provide a level of professionalism that is difficult for the businesses themselves to attain, but also they are much less expensive than full-time employees and operate live around the clock. Among the industries that are largely adopting this model are:
- Healthcare providers for adults, children and animals.
- Legal care providers including officers of the court, bail bondsmen and probation officers
- Construction and maintenance industries
- Federal, state, county and local governments and their agencies
Call Centers Are Different Than Answering Services
An important distinction should be made at this point between two different entities that to the casual observer might appear to be the same. There is a great distinction between an answering service and a call center. Call centers have more to do with marketing than with customer care. If you have ever received a “robocall,” it came from a call center. While some call centers have the ability and duty to receive incoming calls from a company’s clients, they are primarily focused on outbound phone calls intended to promote the business. Answering services typically do not initiate outbound cold calls to those who are not existing customers of a business. Their primary responsibility is to receive and deal with inbound calls of those who have concerns and business to conduct. Also, answering services tend to be located domestically rather than internationally.
Answering Services Make It Personal
On a subtle and intimate level, there are other distinctions between call centers and answering services. It could be said that these boil down to the reality that answering services make it personal. Forbes recently published an article describing a 2017 study that named the three qualities making up great customer service. The three qualities are indicative of the very factors that set live voice answering services apart:
- Prompt replies to inquiries
- Correct information
- Enjoyable interactions
In a nutshell, customers were pleased when they got to speak to a courteous, knowledgeable, helpful representative who listened to them and responded personally to what they heard.