Recorded agent greeting – the grey area of automation

September 21, 2017

Automation, as we all know, saves time. But is it really always true, and do mechanised features such as a recorded agent greeting really help contact centres provide a better user experience?

What is a recorded agent greeting?

Hello, my name is Peter, how may I help you today?”: a perfectly acceptable way to begin a conversation with a caller who’s just dialed your customer service line. But whether it is better for this greeting to be recorded or said in person, is already an arguable question.

A recorded agent greeting allows agents to create a voice recording in which they introduce themselves and greet new callers. This recording is then automatically played to a caller as soon as they choose the appropriate IVR menu, and before they are connected to the agent in question. Depending on the phone lines they support, a single operator can create several different recordings with different messages and/or different languages. In addition to this benefit, companies claim they use a recorded agent greeting for a number of other reasons. All of these reasons seem valid and logical enough at a first glance. But the reality of the situation is that recorded agent greetings fall into a grey area of automation.

Why is a recorded agent greeting bad for your call center?

In our opinion, recorded agent greetings not only fail to make communication with customers more personal or effective. They can actually achieve the exact opposite effect. Don’t forget that saying “Hello” and “Goodbye” are the first and last interactions your customers have with you over the phone. As this Forbes article perfectly describes and illustrates:

People remember most clearly the first and last thing that happens to them.

So let’s shatter some of the myths around the benefits of a recorded agent greeting.

Personalized messages

A recorded agent greeting is supposed to be a revolutionary way to create a personalised, ever-welcoming experience for the customer. In reality, however, it often leaves a customer feeling insulted at not having been greeted in person. And what is more welcoming than someone taking the time to say hello in person?

Always fresh and friendly

It’s true that a recorded agent greeting guarantees a happy-sounding and friendly result. But don’t forget that there can often be a big difference between the agent’s voice in a recording and the subsequent voice of the live agent waiting to receive the call. Not only because of the natural variations in a person’s voice at any given moment, but also because of factors such as tiredness, stress, or illness. A noticeable contrast between a recorded agent greeting and the ‘real thing’ can ruin the effect of the recording.

Is this a real person speaking now?”

Recordings can be confusing. All of us have experienced how uncomfortable it is to start speaking to someone you call after you hear their voice and think they have picked up the phone, only to realise it is an answering machine instead. It’s a natural reaction for people to start speaking once they hear a voice at the other end of the line. And once they realise it’s only a recording and need to start over again with the real person…well, it can be irritating, to say the least.

It saves time…

… except that it doesn’t, actually. When a customer calls the contact centre and picks the needed option in the IVR, the system chooses a free operator and starts their recorded agent greeting. Once it has started, both the customer and agent wait in line for the recording to be over so they can proceed with their conversation. And as you can imagine – “Hello, my name is Peter, how can I help you today?” takes exactly the same amount of time to say on a recording as it does if said in person, with the only difference being that both the customer and the agent spend this time listening in silence.

Gives an agent time to check data

While a customer is listening to the recorded agent greeting, the agent can check the customer’s details in their system. However, the agent will most probably still need to ask clarifying questions and have some information confirmed. Asking questions and getting acquainted with the customer’s case in a personal conversation is still a much more effective way of bringing about a positive result to any interaction.

In theory, a recorded agent greeting should provide many benefits. Not only to those working in the call and contact centre industry, but also to customers who appreciate receiving a personalised and friendly greeting. In reality, however, this seems not to be the case, proof being that the majority of call centres seem to prefer avoiding using recorded agent greetings in their everyday operations. It’s true that recorded agent greetings allow agents to be spared the monotonous and tiresome task of repeating the same sentence over and over again at the beginning of every call. But this is probably the only real benefit of implementing such a feature in your call centre operations.

If your contact centre aims to provide a truly personalised and friendly service to your customers, then there can be no better way to begin any conversation with your customers than with a greeting delivered by one of your agents in person. After all, what could be more personal than a friendly “Hello, my name is Peter, how may I help you today?” spoken by a real, living and breathing person?

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