2020 Voice Services Snapshot, Part 1: Business Phone Systems – the Good, the Bad, and Everything in Between

Elizabeth Lockwood

It’s a given that answering phone calls is imperative to the success of any business. Answering just one phone call can mean the difference between making your daily sales goal or dipping into the red. Unfortunately, you can’t answer every call that comes in yourself, whether you’re a small business with a limited in-house staff or an established agency with limited hours. 

Fortunately, there are many call answering options to help offset some of the call handling pressures, ranging from free voice solutions to virtual receptionist services, though they’re not one size fits all. It’s imperative that businesses not only answer calls, but find a call answering service that suits their business needs as well. To highlight the importance of a quality call answering service, we and our friends at Partner Programs conducted a survey to see how a variety of businesses are handling call answering and how their choices have influenced their success. We’ve also included feedback from marketing experts on business phone systems: the good, the bad, and everything in between. 

1. How do call answering services positively impact the client experience?

Over 77% of respondents from our survey noted that it was critical or very critical to have a call answering system in order to create a positive, growth-based environment for clients.

Answering phone calls is vital for any business to succeed, but many fail to understand just how call answering affects their clients’ satisfaction and, ultimately, the success of their business. When clients are determining whether they want to enter into or continue a relationship with a business, they’re basing their decision largely on whether their initial experience is positive or negative. Though easy to overlook, a phone call can make the difference for any given client and, ultimately, guide them in their decision.

The Experts Weigh-In:

April Roberts, co-founder of NOMOs Marketing, stresses the importance of answering calls through a reliable service. “Call answering services ensure that there will always be someone to answer the office phone and help schedule potential clients for consultations. The first impression is key in converting these leads into clients!”

Matt Burke, CEO of ZillaMetrics, goes on to note that the quality a call answering service provides makes all the difference in the world to the client experience. “Your potential clients can have a good or bad experience based on how well they are trained and what systems have been established,” he said. “You don't want it to feel like an answering service. You want it to feel like they are calling your business. 

“One of the most important things about having a call service — especially for smaller firms — is that calls never go to voicemail,” he added. “A call that goes to voicemail is often a lost lead.”

Steve Ryan, Founder and CEO of RyTech, LLC, acknowledges that a high-quality call answering service can leave a lasting impression on clients. “Call answering services positively impact clients because the phone is always answered professionally and in the same way — this is brand experience at its finest.”

Having a reliable and professional call answering service to answer calls quickly and efficiently can help businesses ensure that each and every client that calls will have a positive experience, which will result in more leads converted and more sales closed. Having a trustworthy call answering service on hand will improve client satisfaction and, therefore, a business' success.

2. What is the greatest loss a business suffers by not offering an adequate call answering service?

Surprisingly, over 16% of respondents from our survey answered that they either do not utilize a call answering service or that they simply use their own personal cell phones, while 11% of respondents answered that they use a free service, like Google Voice

These call handling options are often unreliable, unsustainable, and ineffective. When businesses don’t offer an adequate call answering solution, they risk more than just customer service quality. 

The Experts Weigh-In:

April Roberts quickly notes what businesses risk when they miss or mishandle calls. “I like to think of each phone call as a potential client. If the call is missed or if the caller's question isn't answered effectively, they will call the next [company] on their list. It takes a lot of hard work to get a potential client to call so it's important that the proper answering service is in place to convert these leads into clients.”

“The greatest loss is the loss of leads,” Matt Burke explains. “Unless the caller is already sold on your services, a call going to voicemail often means whoever called is calling someone else. We've all grown accustomed to instant answers and fast information, so it is more important than ever to be responsive and quick to follow up on leads.”

Steve Ryan takes the idea of leads being lost a step further. “There are two losses that a business suffers from when not offering an adequate call answering service: loss in revenue and loss in productivity. If someone is calling because they want more information about your product or service, or even want to purchase right away, answering the phone is imperative. If you do not answer, the person on the other end of the line is likely moving on to the next company whose product or service fits the need. Consumers want information readily and right away. If you can't meet that demand, you will likely lose revenue as a part of it. 

“Productivity is another loss businesses suffer. You have hired individuals to do a specific job. If answering the phones is part of the job, you likely will incur productivity losses as answering the phone interrupts your professionals mid-project, distracting from their thought process. An adequate call answering service allows your professionals to focus on the job at hand, rather than needing to answer the phone on the side.

“A call is sometimes the first impression of your business,” Steve Ryan adds, “so make sure the person answering the phone can establish your brand right away, answer questions, and connect directly with the appropriate person as quickly as possible.”

On their own, many businesses simply can’t provide the quality of customer service that callers deserve while attempting to remain productive and profitable. Free call answering services like Google Voice may seem appealing due to their affordability, but they often yield unsatisfying results in the frequency and quality of the calls they answer. 

3. What advice do you have for businesses who may not realize they are suffering and limiting growth without a reliable call answering service?

Despite being aware of the necessity of answering calls, many businesses still fail to realize that not offering a reliable call answering service can severely hinder their ability to grow as a business. In order to address limitations and continue growth, they need to take a hard look at their business choices to see what about their call answering is working in their favor — and what is not. 

The Experts Weigh-In:

Matt Burke explains how to compare call answering services to success (or lack of success): “If you are using a service like CallRail to monitor inbound calls, it is easy to understand how your business may be suffering. If you see a lot of missed calls or short calls and no callbacks, then it should be clear you are leaking leads by not having an adequate process in place.”

April Roberts takes the idea of analyzing calls a step further. “I recommend adding call tracking on your phone for a couple months and monitoring how many calls are missed and not converted correctly. Take those numbers and look at how much you spend on marketing to determine the financial loss that missed opportunities cost the business. This is a really easy way to see how important an answering service is!”

“Think about who is answering your phones now. Are you taking that person away from daily activities that forces them to be unproductive? Are your phones going unanswered and thus inhibiting your ability to connect with clients right away?” Steve Ryan asks. “These are serious considerations as you are trying to grow your business. A call answering service can act as a gatekeeper, lead qualifier, or phone control to ensure that you only receive the calls you are supposed to receive.”



Answering phone calls is important, but what’s more important is answering phone calls quickly and efficiently. You may be able to connect with a client by simply answering the phone, but the only way to provide memorable customer service and guarantee a successful lead conversion from calls is to offer high-quality call handling.

For businesses hoping to maintain and grow their client base, sales, or productivity, the data from our survey backed up by our trustworthy panel of experts says it all: A reliable and professional call answering service is a tried-and-true method that’ll yield the results you’re hoping for and then some. Try a risk-free 14-day/20-call free trial with Smith.ai to see what heights your business can reach with a notable, awarded call answering service.

Elizabeth Lockwood

Elizabeth Lockwood is the content marketing associate at Smith.ai. She focuses specifically on writing and editing engaging articles, blog posts, and other forms of publication.

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