So, you run a small business. You’re super busy every day and your to-do list is growing and growing. Sometimes it can feel like there’s no end in sight. You’re considering using a live telephone answering service to assist with daily activities like answering phones, scheduling appointments, capturing new leads and providing around the clock customer service. You’ve researched different services but still have questions. If you’re still wondering if a virtual receptionist is going to be right for you, we’ve put together the top 6 reasons why your business may need an answering service.
An answering service does exactly what its name suggests: it’s a group of receptionists there to answer your telephone when you can’t – or just don’t want to. Typically, these calls are of a message taking nature; someone calls your business, you aren’t available, the receptionist takes a message on your behalf and sends you the details. Every day businesses rely on answering services to provide personal, live customer service around the clock.
An answering service is often the first point of contact when you reach out to a small business. Customers need to know their request is received, and an answering service representative is there 24/7 with a warm, friendly voice to help.
As a business owner, you’re familiar with the days when the phone never seems to stop ringing. From the time you walk in the door to the time you walk out (and maybe even when you get home, too), your phone is poppin’. Whether you’re airing a new product or campaign and expecting high call volume, or your business is just amazing and naturally busy, answering services are a great tool to help alleviate some pressure on you and your employees.
Since answering services are equipped to handle thousands of customer interactions a day, they can seriously help level up your customer service game by giving each of your callers the attention they deserve. Think about it. If you let your callers wait on hold for too long or direct them to a voicemail, chances are they won’t be too happy. Sure, they could call back at a later time, or they could contact your competitor instead. Womp womp.
As a small business owner, it can be hard getting your feet off the ground and growing your client base. If you don’t have enough staff members to ensure none of your callers are waiting too long for help, you can kiss potential business goodbye. Answering services are not only there to answer your calls quickly, but they can also act as an extension to your business. Instead of just taking messages for a return call, they can actually assist your callers and help turn them into long-lasting customers.
Another way answering services can help capture new leads is by making outbound phone calls to people who have previously expressed interest in your company, whether it be through your website or previous interactions. Usually you can simply provide your service with the list of people to call, and a script for them to follow. If you’re like most small businesses, you don’t have the time to make many outbound phone calls to try and capture new leads, so having an answering service help with this task is a great way to save time and get some new customers on board.
For businesses that may expect urgent calls (medical practices, HVAC companies, etc.), answering services can really come in handy. Since they are usually available to field calls 24/7, they will be able to help handle any emergency call that may come in and direct the caller to the appropriate person via an on-call dispatching system.
The way in which answering services will dispatch calls and messages may vary, but the premise is the same – you let them know who to call and when, and they will get the message to the correct person. If your on-call schedule rotates on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, most answering services are able to accommodate that as well by providing you with access to an online portal which would allow you to make the changes on the go, or by allowing you to call into the service to make changes over the phone. The last thing you want is for one of your patients or customers to have to wait until business hours for assistance when the issue they are calling in about is serious.
In addition to helping dispatch urgent calls and messages 24/7, answering services are usually able to schedule appointments as well. Services that give you multiple scheduling options will be your best bet, as you don’t want to have to limit yourself or spend the time switching over to a brand new system. In addition, if you are a medical practice you’ll want to make sure that the answering service is HIPAA compliant so that all of your patient information stays protected.
Even if you do not run a medical practice, many businesses still rely on appointments. Some different ways you can utilize appointment scheduling based off your industry include:
Whether you run an eCommerce company or if your business allows customers to purchase products online, answering services can rock your world too. While not all services can go out to your website to place orders, many of them can, so you’ll want to make sure you do your research before hand.
In addition, you’ll want to make sure that the service is ISO 27001 certified and PCI compliant if they will be taking credit card information from your customers. The last thing you want is for one of your customers to experience fraud at the hands of your answering service, which could fall back on your company.
Last, but not least, many businesses need an answering service to help provide their callers with 24/7 customer support. Many businesses aren’t able to stay open all the time, which means their customers suffer, especially if something happens over the weekend and no one is available to assist them. No matter what type of business you run, you can’t go wrong with giving your customers a number to call should they need help after hours.
If you don’t happen to have any sort of support after hours, the likelihood that your customers will leave your service or company in search of another one that IS available 24/7 is not a chance you should be willing to take. Unless of course you have too many customers and are trying to thin out the herd…said no business ever.