What Size Business Needs an Answering Service

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article | What Size Business Needs an Answering ServiceConventional wisdom states you must have a medium to large size business in order to justify having an answering service. This truism arises primarily from the dated idea that those who answer the phone late are employees or are contracted to the company. While growing businesses with 50 employees or more by default really need to have a manned after-hours line, it is worth taking a look at the assumption that smaller businesses cannot afford an answering service. Of course, every industry is unique and no two companies within one industry are exactly the same. Despite this, you can still make some general inquiries into the need for and the cost of an answering service. The results might surprise you.

Small Business Is Helped Most by an Answering Service

Expanding large and medium businesses, as noted, seem to grasp the reality that having a real person answer the phone at all hours is not a luxury but a necessity. Research indicates, however, that the outfits which benefit most from a phone answering service are small businesses. Part of the dynamic has to do with the depersonalized manner in which business-to-consumer contact is initiated in the digital age. Statistically, most consumers believe their better chance of hearing back from a business when they have a question or an issue is by sending an email. Further, when a customer does call your business and gets an after-hours voicemail, only 20% of the time does that person leave a message. Unfortunately, studies reveal that many voicemails from customers linger for three days without being heard. Up to one in five customer voicemails are not responded to at all. The antidote for these ills is a virtual receptionist, an answering service that fosters an immediate connection between the customer and your business.

There Is a Difference Between a Call Center and Answering Service

Many business owners make no distinction between an answering service and a call center. A call center is a network of telephone agents that both receive and make calls primarily for marketing companies. Their work by definition is extremely high volume and impersonal. Should you ever reach the same person at the call center twice, it is strictly by chance. An answering service differs in that it is not a high-volume attempt to make sales on behalf of a number of businesses. The primary purpose of the answering service is to enable communication between a business and its customers as well as within the firm itself. This means the service often provides critical information that allows a sale or a business deal to be consummated. However, the answering service is not a pressurized sales unit, but rather a communication link.

Answering Services Can Offer Lots of Options

Another distinction between call centers and answering services has to do with options. Businesses that use call centers tend to be locked into a service that has limited flexibility in what it offers. A professionally managed phone answering service, on the other hand, offers a number of adaptable alternatives to its clients.

  • Payment options. The better services may give you the option of paying for their work by the individual phone call or the length of time the customer is on the phone. Since you know how long an informational call for your business usually lasts, you will immediately know which of these options is better for you.
  • Point of origin. Another plus that addresses a long-time concern of business owners is the origin point of the service. Some of the finest after-hours answering firms are based in the U.S.
  • Testing the waters. Finally, before locking your company into a contract without knowing how functional the service will be, you may want to find a service that allows a brief trial period.

An Answering Service Takes Your Business Global

Speaking of being U.S based, some businesses are concerned that an answering service will not be able to deal with international calls. After all, having 24/7 live voice support automatically suggests that people from different parts of the globe can do business with you. It is important to recognize that customers who call you will expect to be conducting business in English, which is universally regarded as the international business language.

The Benefits of Great Customer Service

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article |Customer Service|The Benefits of Great Customer ServiceGreat customer service is an incredibly beneficial thing to any business for a whole range of reasons. This article aims to highlight why exactly you want to provide a great customer service experience and what the benefits will be if you do.

Better Sales

One of the main benefits of having a brilliant customer service operation is that customers who are pleased with their experience are far more likely to buy more than customers who are not. This is because mood has a large impact on the willingness of customers to spend money, which means your company wants to take every step possible to provide the best possible customer service so that your customers are in the best possible mood.

An Atmosphere of Improved Communication

By providing great customer service experiences such as a live call answering service to help deal with any issues that may have occurred in the customers experience, you set the foundations for an atmosphere of brilliant communication to exist throughout the workplace. Taking a cue from the employee satisfaction practices, you can encourage your employees to be more open and communicative in the workplace, establishing better communication practices and reducing the amount of miscommunication in the office. This is beneficial as miscommunication between employees can cause some serious issues for productivity and the elimination of these issues should boost employee morale overall.

Customer Satisfaction

Speaking of boosted morale, the process of providing detailed individual care to each of your customers will help them to feel valued and appreciated as the valuable individuals that they are, boosting their mood and helping them to feel more satisfied as customers of your business. This can be a more resource intensive process, but the result for your customers is well worth the cost.

Positive Online Reviews

This positivity in your customers’ mood will last in your customers mind, making them far more likely to write positive and appreciative reviews that will help to bump up the rating of your business online. With this increased rating online, you will be looked upon more favorably by the search engine algorithms and you will likely find more customers. These customers will hopefully be treated just as well and go on to leave positive reviews themselves creating a positive feedback loop that is beneficial for your company.

Customer Loyalty

Further, this sense of value and positivity towards your business that your customers feel could drive them to become loyal lifelong customers that stick with your company permanently. This is incredibly beneficial as these long-term existing customers provide far more value to your business than new customers do, meaning that your company will be able to turn a significant profit from lifelong customers. Additionally, these highly loyal customers are far more likely to recommend your business to their friends and loved ones maintaining positive word of mouth marketing and painting your business in a good light. All of which are highly beneficial as they come at no additional cost to your company.

Advantages of Outsourced Answering Services

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article | Advantages of Outsourced Answering ServicesOutsourcing different aspects of your business can help you save time, money and focus. You can send your books to an accountant, your calls to an answering service and your intelligence technology management to an IT firm, while you concentrate on the core projects and tasks that build your company up. Some of the benefits you will see from outsourcing your answering and receptionist services include being able to extend your customer service hours, save money and focus your efforts.

Extend Your Call Hours

Many answering services offer call-in hours around the clock and on all days, with the phones being answered by real people instead of an automated system. This gives your customers the opportunity to talk to someone and resolve issues outside of your normal operating hours without you having to keep employees working at all hours. You can even find mobile apps from these services to help you keep track of messages and leads in one place. This can lead to better customer retention and higher profits.

Save Money

Outsourcing can save you money both in terms of salaries and in terms of space needed for the extra personnel. You will not have to hire and train employees to answer the phones and then dedicate a place in your building for them. An outsourced receptionist service will have many clients to help cover their costs as well as the beefed-up phone plans to keep up with everything. Many will offer personalized call scripts so your brand’s voice and culture will be presented to the customer when they call just as it will be when they walk in your office.

Focus on Core Activities

When you do not have to pay for a dedicated employee to answer your phones, you can more closely focus on the core activities that make your company great. For example, if you own a catering business, then having another company answer your phones will give you more time to develop new recipes and finish orders without worrying about the calls coming in.

Outsourcing can help startups survive the first few years of business with less overhead and can streamline operations for huge corporations. When you outsource your call answering with a receptionist service, you can see increased customer service and retention as well as lowered costs. This gives you more time to focus on other aspects of your company such as making new products. You can also extend your customer service hours outside of your office hours and help clients around the clock without paying overtime.