The genius mathematician and founder of the area we know as Cybernetics, Norbert Wiener coined the phrase “the human use of human beings”. Writing post WW2, his frame of reference was societies growing concern with automation. The concept should now be understood as “using computers to free humans for more productive work”. So when we encounter an automated attendant or “robot receptionist”, we should remember that the repetitive work of greeting, screening, routing, message retrieval and message acquisition are sometimes best done by a machine. We are often asked when setting up a new phone system if we should use “live operator’ or an “automated attendant”. It has been my experience that quality call handling is best done by a human and I would go with live answer. There is a trade off however and here is how you might manage that trade off.
It is generally recognized, unfortunately, that seven out of ten phone calls to our place of business are not clients! They are friends, family, vendors and generally people who know exactly who they want to speak with. If we could free up our human receptionist to answer client calls, the thinking is that we might make both a more efficient call processing mode and at the same time make a much better “first impression”. For this reason, we encourage clients to setup up a “side door” that is always answered by an Automated Attendant. Publish a phone number to “insiders” that routes them through the automated attendant. Publish the company’s main number only to clients. Hopefully this will free the human receptionist to give quality call handling to the most important callers, your clients as that person is now free of the other 7 out of 10 calls.