For a start up small business, it can be hard finding the right balance between being available to your customers and staying on budget. That is why business owners make the choice to let their voicemail field calls when they’re not available instead of paying a bit more money to let a 24/7 live answering service handle their call traffic. Below we look at the pros and cons of using voicemail and an answering service, and how each can help – or hurt – your small business.
- You always get the correct message: Since an answering machine literally records your caller’s message as they’re speaking, you’re always guaranteed to get the right message every time.
- It’s usually a free feature with your business or cell phone: While voicemail used to be something that you could pay for, it’s a standard feature now and comes free with 99.9% of phone plans, whether they be for business or personal use.
- Automatically answers if you can’t answer the phone: As long as you have your voicemail set up, it’s guaranteed to be there for your callers whenever you can’t.
- Leaving a message is not very personal: Many people don’t like to do business through voicemail, and would prefer to speak to a real person.
- Your mailbox could get full: Unless you’re going through your voicemail every day and clearing out messages, your mailbox could get full, which means potential callers won’t have a way to leave you a message.
- Many callers won’t want to leave a message: Customers are almost always looking for an immediate response. If your answering machine is the only one answering, chances are they won’t want to leave a message because they’re unsure when you’ll get the message, or if you’ll ever get it.
- 7 out of 10 callers will hang up if they reach voicemail: If 7 out of 10 callers are hanging up when reaching voicemail, it means your business is missing 70% of all potential business inquiries. Those odds are certainly not in your favor.
- Increased potential to lose business: Because your voicemail is on the front lines for potential new and existing customers instead of a live voice, you have a higher chance of losing business to a company who will actually be there to answer.
- Listening to messages and returning calls is time consuming: The first thing many employees do when they come in in the morning is go through their new emails and listen to any new messages they received over night. However, after they’re done listening to those messages, they have to call those customers back. So, by the time they can even get on to today’s work, half of their day could already be gone.
Answering Service Pros
- Callers leave a message with a real person: For callers who would like to talk to a real person, an answering service can provide that assurance to customers who can feel comfortable knowing a real person is listening.
- Can handle the same tasks your in-house staff do: Answering services can do more than just jot down your messages. They can schedule appointments, dispatch urgent messages, place orders, troubleshoot basic issues, and follow custom scripted workflows that match your company’s in-house procedures.
- Always available: Answering services are always available, which means your customers always have a live voice to talk to.
- A live voice can help capture and convert leads: An answering machine can’t make a sale, but an answering service agent surely can.
- Operators can make outbound calls as well as answer inbound calls: If you’re having trouble calling prospects back, an answering service can help with that.
- With call forwarding, the service can be turned off or on as needed: While answering services are available 24/7, that doesn’t mean you’ll need them 24/7. Through the call forwarding feature on your phone, you will be able to route calls to your answering service whenever you need to, and then simply turn it off whenever you don’t.
- Operators can answer basic questions: As long as you provide your answering service with a list of FAQs plus their answers, they would be able to help answer callers’ questions, which would help eliminate the need to leave messages for a return call.
Answer Service Cons
- Answering services could be costly: Depending on the volume of calls you get or how often you use your service, your answering service bill might add up quickly and exceed your budget.
- Customers may not like speaking to a virtual receptionist: If your customers are used to speaking to you or your employees, they may not feel comfortable speaking to someone like a virtual receptionist who isn’t actually in the office. Their hesitance to speak to your answering service could eventually result in them looking for another company to work with.
- Answering service agents may make mistakes: Answering services employ real live humans, and humans sometimes make mistakes. Unfortunately, this means that the mistakes your answering service make could potentially cost you a sale or two.
- You may be obligated to a long contract: Some answering services offer month by month billing, while others require you to sign into a contract. So, depending on who your provider is, you may get stuck to a long, costly contract.
- Agents may not be able to handle everything your staff does: While answering services can handle many of the same tasks your in-house staff can, they can’t do it all, which means some jobs would be better left up to your own employees.
<img title=”Answering Machine vs Answering Service Infographic” alt=”Answering Machine vs Answering Service Infographic” src=”https://www.specialtyansweringservice.net/wp-content/uploads/AnsweringMachineVSAnsweringService.jpg” width=”1201″ />
<pre><em>Image originally posted on <a href=”https://www.specialtyansweringservice.net/answering-machine-vs-answering-service-infographic/”>The SAS Blog</a></em>