Automated Calls: What Are They + How to Handle Them

Automated call systems are everywhere these days. You might be more familiar with them as interactive voice response (IVR) systems. Chances are good that you interact with these systems at least a couple of times per week. 

For instance, when you call the bank, a human operator probably doesn’t answer the call. A robotic voice picks up and asks you to press a button on the phone corresponding to a list of menu options. 

On the surface, automated call answering systems are great, but when you dig a bit deeper, you’ll realize that they leave a lot to be desired. Thankfully, there’s a better way.

The reality behind IVR

Automated call answering systems were touted as the solution for so many business challenges. They would automate the customer communication process, alleviate the need for human receptionists, save businesses time and money, and deliver a better overall experience. 

Of course, we all know the reality behind these systems, particularly older, outdated technologies that so many businesses still have in place. They do transform the customer journey, it’s just that it’s a negative transformation. The cumbersome, impersonal process of dealing with automated menu trees is frustrating and irritating for customers. 

Too often, automated calls are terminated early, simply because the caller cannot speak with a live human being without dealing with an unreasonable wait time and because there are no menu items that correspond to their need. Automated calls lead to poor performance, increased customer dissatisfaction, lost leads, and increased costs. 

Why did such a promising, transformative technology fail to deliver? It’s simple — it’s too impersonal. Non-personalized automated call systems treat all callers the same, regardless of the information you might have available about that caller. A customer who’s purchased from you regularly for a decade receives the same call experience as a lead who’s never bought from you and may never decide to do so. Both of these callers are worthy of a positive experience, but it shouldn’t be the same for each of them. 

The solution to the automated call system conundrum

The reality here is that no business can afford to have a one-size-fits-all call-answering system. Loyal customers and leads should have personalized, customized experiences. There should be a way to tailor the call experience to each journey and to do so without the impersonal, cold wall of digital technology in the way.

There is: virtual receptionists. 

Virtual receptionists are the solution to the growing dissatisfaction with automated call answering systems and the need to deliver a positive experience that’s customized to each caller’s unique journey. But how does that work?

Here’s a quick example to highlight just how different this approach is from using an IVR system.

Let’s say a customer calls your business. Instead of receiving an automated greeting and then being told to listen carefully and choose the best option from a list of preset menu choices, a virtual receptionist answers with a greeting customized to your business and asks how they can help. 

The customer briefly explains their needs and the receptionist guides them through a conversation to help address them. Depending on the situation, the receptionist may be able to answer the caller’s question(s), or they can transfer the call to the correct person within your business. 

If the call is transferred, the virtual receptionist provides your employee with the caller’s name and pertinent information. That reduces the need for redundant questions and long wait times. Your employee can then provide personalized guidance, helping the customer make an informed decision. 

The result? Your customer gets a positive, personalized experience that takes far less time than what’s possible with an automated call system. And because you’re using a virtual receptionist, there’s no need to hire additional staff members to answer calls. You get the cost and time-saving benefits promised by automated call answering systems without the drawbacks. 

Beyond answering phone calls

Virtual receptionists can transform the caller experience and help your business save time and money by automating the call process, but they can also do a lot more if you choose the right partner. For instance,’s virtual receptionists help automate other processes, while ensuring the missing human touch is present at all times. Some of the ways we can help include:

Plus, our virtual receptionists help you build a more accurate picture of your callers so you can deliver a better overall experience. Each call is recorded and transcribed, giving you access to text-based information and voice recordings. We also make it possible to access real-time call intelligence and metadata right from a centralized client dashboard. Plus, everything we do is logged automatically in your CRM so that your team has immediate access to critical information at all times.

It's time for a better solution than IVR

In its day, IVR was a game-changer. However, its time has passed. Automated call answering systems deliver an impersonal experience that’s the same for every caller. Today’s customers expect and deserve something more. Virtual receptionists make it possible to deliver a tailored experience for every caller while leveraging the data you already have and empowering your team to excel. Isn’t it time you had a better solution than IVR? 

To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to

Written by Tom Armitage

Tom Armitage is a Senior Marketing Manager with

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