What is an answering service? 50 reasons why you should find out.

Nick DAlleva

Posted in Tip O' The Morning and tagged

A confused guy

Not sure if your business needs an answering service? In case you were on the fence about outsourcing, here are 50 ways an answering service can help you do business, and make your life easier.

1. I am missing calls after-hours, and probably missing some leads.

You may only work between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., but that doesn’t mean your customers will only need you during those hours. Every call that goes to voicemail could be a sale for your competitors.

2. I need more staff but I can’t afford it.

Telephone answering services offer affordable solutions without the worry of salaries, benefits, and training. It’s a lesson how to hire employees with no money.

3. How can I work at home when I have no space for more staff.

This is a situation that’s a perfect fit for remote receptionist or administrative support. They can do everything you need, from phones to billing, and you don’t have to worry about where they’ll sit.

4. I am writing down credit card numbers and processing them manually.

There’s a reason people don’t like to manage money – because if it’s not done right, it causes problems. With security breaches ubiquitous these days, processing payments manually is not a secure way to do business. An answering service can easily and accurately take credit cards over the phone, without the dangers of a handwritten paper trail.

5. I am running my business from a cell phone.

Nothing spells unprofessional like speaking to clients and having the call break up in a cell phone “dead zone.” The first rule of success is never transfer a business phone to a cell phone. Using an answering service is more convenient for customers, and makes you look better.

6. I don’t have the time to manage my calendar.

If you are still asking ‘ Where can I find a 2013 calendar’, answering services can provide you with easy to use, web-based software that’s always up to date. They can input your appointments for you, and all you have to do is remember to look at your schedule.

7. My marketing is generating more call than I can handle.

When you decide to run a marketing campaign, you need to be staffed and ready to manage call spikes. An answering service can ramp up during peak times and respond to callers 24 hours a day. And if you are struggling with how to measure a marketing campaign, most answering services log each call and can even spit out some great statistics for you to chew on like call result, time of day the call was placed, and length of call.

8. My after-hours employee is falling asleep on the job.

When customers need you urgently, you need to be there fast. If your after-hours staff isn’t by the phone, or constantly falling asleep at work, then dispatch will suffer. Caffeine up your after hours dispatching with 24 hour call answering.

9. I have live chat installed on my site but I don’t have the resources to monitor it.

Answering services do more than answer phones. They can also monitor your live chat channel and assist customers following a list of FAQs you provide. Even the best live chat software won’t monitor itself.

10. My email response time is days, not hours.

Just as with live chat, answering service professionals can monitor and promptly respond to your emails, providing faster issue resolution, and showing your customers that their business is important to you. Even if you have the most eloquent ‘responding to email etiquette’ that would make a queen second guess her manners, it’s meaningless without fast response.

11. My customers aren’t showing up for appointments and I don’t have time to make reminder calls.

Using an answering service to make appointment confirmation calls, you can eliminate no-shows and last-minute cancellations, and reschedule appointments at the customers’ convenience.

12. I am launching a new product and I want to do market research, but I don’t know how.

An answering service can do market research for you. They can help you create outbound customer service surveys so that you can gauge product interest by demographic, and find out how consumers are responding to your business.

13. I have to check five different places for my messages.

Answering services offer a unified messaging solution. They can take care of your phones, email, e-fax, live chat, and social media channels, compiling messages and uploading them to a convenient personal portal.

14. My secretary is putting too many callers on hold, and they are hanging up.

If your elevator music on hold services aren’t curbing hang ups, answering services can almost eliminate the possibility of call hang-ups, and significantly reduce call hold times. Outsourcing ensuring effortless and efficient communication between your customers and your business.

15. My helpdesk and technical support lines are understaffed.

Outsourcing a phone helpdesk or technical support to an answering service saves your customers from having to hold in that seemingly endless virtual queue, waiting for someone to assist them. In addition, it can unburden your in-house team, allowing them to focus on the day-to-day tasks that keep your office running smoothly.

16. I need an anonymous reporting channel for workplace misconduct.

The simple solution is to utilize a 1-800 number and have those calls answered by a service. It provides a safe, confidential way for your employees to report someone anonymously without fear of reprisal. Whistleblower hotlines also comply with the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act for companies in the financial sector.

17. I can handle my call volume most of the time, but I occasionally need backup.

Answering services don’t have to be used for every call. Proper answering of telephone calls starts with the actual ‘answering’ of the call. You can set it up so that calls bounce to the service when you’re on another call, away from your desk, or out of the office.

18. My customers aren’t renewing their subscriptions or service contracts.

Armed with a list of customers’ subscriptions that are up for renewal, an answering service can make proactive outbound calls to solicit renewals instead of waiting for customers to remember and call on their own. Your customers may not know how to renew a contract or they may be just too busy to call. Either way, answering services have you covered.

19. My office is hard to get to, and my customers can’t find me.

The impact of location on business success is huge. Answering services can provide dealer locate assistance for customers trying to find your business, or the closest franchise to their location.

20. I am too busy filling orders to take orders.

While you’re busy packaging and shipping orders, answering service can be your phone order taking service. They can continue to take orders for you, and alert you instantly via text or email so that your order queue doesn’t hit a snag.

21. My in-house staff’s productivity is declining because they are spending too much time on the phone.

When the phone is ringing off the hook, the constant distraction makes it a challenge to get your work done. Increasing work productivity can be achieved by outsourcing your telephone answering. Using an answering service eliminates that distraction and gives your team the freedom to take care of essential responsibilities like creating correspondence, completing reports and evaluations, and preparing for meetings without disruption.

22. I can’t keep track of my social media channels.

That’s ok. Learning how to track social media can be complicated for any business. Just outsource your social media monitoring to an answering service. Agents can read and respond to comments to your Facebook, Twitter, Google +, or Pinterest feeds, and alert you of any negative reviews that require immediate resolution.

23. I run an international company and I want to establish myself in the U.S., but it’s not feasible to open an office there.

Using a U.S.-based answering service is a great way to support your international clientele, and can make prospective customers feel more comfortable in making a purchase. International companies in the United States can thrive by keeping their physical location outside of the US.

24. My customers speak Spanish, but my employees don’t.

Speaking Spanish at work is commonplace. If you don’t know how to speak to customers, your business is suffering. Many answering services offer bilingual operators, fluent in English and Spanish, so that there is no language barrier between you and your customers.

25. My phones are being answered by an automated receptionist.

The live-voice reception that an answering service provides gives callers the personal touch that will distinguish your business from competitors. The best business voicemail service in the world won’t be able to do what a live operator can do.

26. My voicemail is constantly full and I don’t have the patience to sort through it.

If your customers are hitting a voice mailbox full message, your business is in trouble. Who needs voicemail when you have an answering service? Operators will answer every call, take detailed messages for you, and forward those messages to you in whatever manner you would prefer. You’ll have everything at-a-glance.

27. I want to give my business a more professional appearance, but every time someone calls, my kids are crying in the background.

Get ready for one of the best business tips for small business owners: Whether the office consists of one person or one hundred, an answering service will portray your business as established, consistent, and successful.

28. I am too busy planning my conference to take registrations. Prospects don’t think I have my act together.

Answering services can complete callers’ registrations via phone by entering data into your online registration tool. If you don’t have the money for million dollar corporate event planning services, an answering service is the next best thing. They make things easier for attendees, and allows you to focus on making sure the conference goes off without a hitch.

29. I am always on the road, I lose calls, I miss appointments, and I’m a mess.

Managing business from your car is about as organized as managing your finances on sticky notes. Answering services can field your calls, record pertinent information, and even patch calls directly to you in time-sensitive cases. If losing your telephone is a daily occurrence, each time the service gets a message, they will call your missing phone thus helping you find it. Outsourcing is a win-win for the disorganized small business owner.

30. I manage several rental properties and I am being inundated with tenant calls after hours.

24 hour maintenance calls stink. With a 24-hour answering service at your disposal, you don’t need to interrupt your sleep for non-urgent requests. Calls from every location can be routed to the same number, and you can access your messages simultaneously via an online portal.

31. Due to high call volume when winter and summer hit, my HVAC company can’t handle the call volume and it’s affecting service.

Most answering services have more staff than you could possibly need, and can handle upswings in call volume with ease.

32. What should I do if one of my products is recalled? How do I handle concerned customers?

Consumer product safety recalls usually result in an unmanageable call volume. Having an answering service handle the high volume of calls from a product or drug recall can not only quickly allay customers’ concerns, but also provide pertinent information, and process returns and refunds.

33. There was a data breach at my office, and I need an efficient way of communicating with employees and customers.

An answering service can be an integral part of your data breach notification policy. Working with a database you provide, answering services can coordinate an outbound calling campaign to inform individuals of the issue at hand, and can even distribute important information en masse via text, email, or pre-recorded phone message.

34. My franchise needs a unified image.

Knowing how to run a successful franchise means understanding customers expect uniform service. Customers flock to your franchise because they know what to expect, and they know they’ll get a consistent product each time they shop. An answering service can ensure that callers are greeted with the same message and professionalism each time they contact you.

35. Patients in my medical office are dissatisfied because my staff is on the phone all the time.

When it comes to customer service, nowhere is it more important than at a medical practice. Medical answering services can field calls, make appointments and record messages for the doctor, or phone nurse so that in-house staff can devote their attention to the people in front of them.

36. I am losing track of RSVPs for my personal event.

Using an answering service as an RSVP management system for your party or wedding makes your life less stressful, keeps you organized, and contributes to greater enjoyment of your event.

37. It’s time for our annual fundraising drive and we need help with donation calls.

When it comes to non-profit pledge drives, you need all the support you can get. Rather than learning how to be a good telephone fundraiser, an answering service can provide that help by taking calls and processing donations for you directly, or making outbound calls to request charitable gifts.

38. My customer service department is terrible and I’m too busy to supervise.

The majority of purchases are made based on how people feel they are being treated. The primary goal of answering service staff is to provide an exceptional customer care experience for every caller, and they have extensive quality control measures in place to ensure that happens. Dealing with bad customer service starts by outsourcing.

39. We tried telemarketing because we know it could work, but we were unsuccessful.

Learning how to do telemarketing sales takes practice. Some answering services have a dedicated telemarketing group. You will see better results, and it will cost less than trying to do things in-house.

40. My phone system is outdated and my sales rep is pushing me to upgrade it.

You can cut back on communications expenses by hiring an answering service as your primary communication channel. Answering services are already equipped with the necessary technology, so there is nothing for you to purchase or maintain.

41. My service techs are taking money under the table for service calls.

Why do people steal from their employers? Because they get away with it. With the option to take payment for service calls via phone before on-call staff is dispatched, it dissolves the possibility that your employees will make up their own charges and pocket the money.

42. I need a better way to track helpdesk tickets that are generated from service calls.

Helpdesk tracking can be difficult if you are logging phone calls as service tickets. Answering service operators can log each service call into your online system, create helpdesk tickets for you, and send your techs all the information they need to respond to the query.

43. I am running multiple advertising campaigns and I need to track which is most effective.

Whether they are using your web-based marketing software or creating Excel worksheets to record interest in your ad campaigns, answering service agents will compile the information you need so that you can measure it against your projected benchmarks. Measuring advertising effectiveness becomes as easy as tracking multiple toll free numbers and routing calls to the answering service.

44. My customers are complaining because I am outsourcing overseas.

Companies who have outsourced come back to US answering service support when their customers start noticing a drop in service quality. When you use a U.S.-based answering service, it is almost a given that the operators’ native language is English. Make sure that you research in advance whether or not your service outsources calls overseas.

45. My customer service reps aren’t being monitored.

When you work with an answering service, you are not only hiring agents, you are hiring a customer service monitoring group as well. Everyone answering your calls receives the same training regarding your business practices, offerings, and FAQs. That means every operator will give the same, consistent response based on your customers’ needs.

46. My e-commerce customers aren’t placing orders because there’s no contact phone number.

A 1-800 number provided by your answering service can be used in everything from your website to email marketing efforts. E-commerce customers appreciate having a constant link to your company, no matter what time they are placing their orders.

47. Everyone in our company has only one job, and if they’re out, their work isn’t done.

The beauty of an answering service is that the operator pool is trained on everything you will need them to do, not just on one task. So no matter who is answering your calls, they will be able to help customers regardless of their need.

48. We have multiple on-call personnel and we’ve outgrown sharing one cell phone as the after-hours help line.

When you work with an answering service, your on-call team can input their schedules ahead of time so that the operators will know who is working and when. You can also establish a backup list so that if one of your staff can’t be reached, the service knows whom to contact next.

49. I don’t like talking on the phone.

Have a phobia of speaking on the phone? Not everyone is a fan of phone conversations. Some people prefer communication by email or text. Using an answering service allows you to take the calls you want, when you want them.

50. We have an internal call center, but between staffing and upgrades, it’s costing too much to keep it open 24-hours a day.

If you’re picking up several lines at once, it can be difficult to remember with whom you spoke and if their issue was addressed. Agents can answer calls 24-hours a day, 365 days a year, and record call details for you so that you can focus on resolving one customer’s issue at a time.

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