As a busy business owner, it is impossible to man your phone lines 24/7 – but it is not always easy during core office hours either. You could miss out on an important call from a prospective customer by being in a meeting, on another call or when taking a short and well-deserved break from your work!
Businesses can also sometimes get surges in calls – this may be seasonal, or as a result of a new marketing campaign. Whatever the reason, you need to make sure you have enough manpower to answer these calls otherwise you could lose the additional business.
A potential new customer is unlikely to keep trying to call your business if the phone is not answered quickly enough, or it goes straight to an answering machine. Research has shown that 7 out of 10 callers will immediately hang up when they hear an answering machine, so it makes business sense to ensure that incoming calls are answered by a real person - especially within your core business hours.
Existing customers are also likely to become frustrated if you fail to answer their calls in a timely manner, their calls go straight to voicemail or messages don’t get passed on. The last thing a good business would want is for a valued client to go elsewhere as a result of being kept waiting, or lack of good, personal communication.
Even if your business only receives the occasional call, that one single call can sometimes lead to a significant amount of business which you would not want to lose by the caller being directed to an answering machine, by being kept waiting or a message being miscommunicated.
First impressions are everything in business and often the first impression of your business starts with how a client is greeted on a phone call. It is therefore important that they are not greeted after a long wait followed by an uninterested and unhelpful response – but within a couple of rings with a professional greeting that matches the professionalism of the business.
Although it works for many businesses, hiring a full-time in-house receptionist is not always the answer – with its associated recruitment and training costs, not to mention the additional costs of holiday/sick pay, pension etc. And of course, no receptionist can remain at his or her desk 24/7, which means you may still need to pay for a back-up system or arrange cover for when a receptionist is away.
If you and your employees are finding that constantly answering calls, and taking and passing on messages are taking too much valuable time away from running the business efficiently, you might find that outsourcing to a call answering service is the right cost-effective solution for you.
Calls are still answered in your company name, leading customers to assume they are talking to your own company receptionist or customer support – this can be particularly important for small businesses or start-ups, giving an impression of a larger or more established company.
Businesses of all types and sizes can use answering services – from small businesses with only a handful of employees to large companies with hundreds of workers. Even one-person offices may have the need to use call answering! A call answering service can tailor its support packages to the needs and size of the business – offering anything from one ‘virtual receptionist’ to a small team of dedicated PAs, ensuring a consistent and professional image that goes above and beyond just an initial greeting.
Before choosing the right answering service to suit your business needs, it is important to think about the level of support you require from them. Do you simply want your calls to be answered, messages taken and passed on to the appropriate department, or do you want more specific tasks handled, such as:
Providing customer service
Setting appointments/scheduling meetings
Supporting sales and marketing
Companies offering call answering services can also act as an additional support to your in-house receptionist by processing calls and enquiries during busy times or when businesses close. Some companies process their own daytime calls but need support with after-hours calls – perhaps from overseas clients or customers who can only call after finishing their own jobs for the day.
There are also many businesses that need support with taking calls on holidays and weekends all year round. With 24-hour support, you can cover all your calls, regardless of the day or hour.
This means that customers who might contact you on a regular basis get a high quality and consistent level of service and support. This in turn can help generate repeat business and boost profitability.
With so many benefits to using a call answering service and so many levels of support available, this is a very flexible way for businesses to enhance their customer service, manage their call overflow and reduce their office expenses at the same time.
At Westbury Admin Services, we also recognise the many benefits that a call answering service can give to busy businesses, so we are currently looking into offering this as a potential new service. Watch this space…..