In business, first impressions count. A telephone answering service makes it easy for customers to contact your business, and this can mean the difference between capturing new clients and losing them to one of your competitors. Crucially, it also allows you to concentrate on other aspects of your business whilst ensuring that no potential customers are neglected.
Grow have been using a telephone answering service since we began and it has become an irreplaceable part of the business.
Here are our 17 reasons why your small business should be using a telephone answering service.
1. Never Miss a Sales Call Again
Sales calls are the lifeblood of your business. What’s the point in spending money on marketing or any other aspect of your business if you’re not going to make yourself accessible to your clients? Although a lot of business and sales are now done online, there are still plenty of people who prefer to use the phone. This is especially true in Grow’s case as not only are we selling our own expertise, but we also find that before buying our services, our clients prefer to speak to an actual person. Getting just one sale a month through your telephone answering service could mean that it will pay for itself.
At Grow, we’ve set up our service so that if we’re busy in the office and are unable to answer the phones, the calls automatically get patched to the telephone answering service, who will take a message for us. Alternatively, if there is no one in the office, the telephone answering service forwards calls to key members’ mobiles, which they can then screen and answer if they wish.
2. Saves You Money On Hiring a Receptionist
Hiring a receptionist can be expensive for a small business, and you probably don’t have enough incoming calls to justify paying someone to handle them full-time. Even if you get members of your existing team to take calls, this will draw them away from their other tasks, effectively costing you money.
Telephone answering services represent a huge saving in comparison to handling your calls in-house. Not only do you avoid having to pay a salary, you also save on the costs associated with having someone in the office. As well as this, many small business teams work remotely, and telephone answering services are a great way to organise and manage a remote team.
3. Call Answering, Message Taking and Order Placement, Even When Your Business is Closed
Unlike a real receptionist, a telephone answering service can be on hand all day, every day.
This means that even outside of office hours, your business has a real person manning the phones, ready to deal with enquiries and provide any other aspects of customer service required.
4. Free Up Time For Your Team to Generate Revenue and Grow Your Business
Even during office hours, dealing with the flow of inbound calls can be extremely time-consuming and distracting. It’s no good hiring great staff to improve and grow your business if they are going to be glued to their phone all day answering mundane enquiries.
As well as this, a telephone answering service filters and forwards calls, so that you can screen calls during busy periods or times when you need to focus on working without distractions. Without picking up the phone, you can find out whether the call is from an important client or from someone trying to sell you a photocopier. A phone answering service can handle many of the day-to-day enquiries, allowing you and your team to concentrate on growing your business.
5. Book Appointments and Manage Your Calendar
Many telephone answering services can also do other tasks, such as acting as a switchboard to transfer calls to the appropriate people. Even better, some virtual receptionists can be trained to use your calendar and diary software, which means they can book, cancel and rearrange appointments for you.
This is a great way to cut down on time-consuming admin.
6. Personalised Service For Each Individual Company
Call answering services usually let you choose from a number of options, so you can get the service that’s right for your business. At the most basic level, a service will take messages for you and filter out unwanted calls. If you want more, you can provide the receptionists with bespoke scripts and briefings, product descriptions, and FAQs, which you can update as often as you like.
This means that upon calling you, your customers will be greeted with a well-informed, polite and friendly service, which will feel like a part of your actual business. We’ve found that good providers are able to build their services around you, and meet the needs of your company. You can give them service briefings, product descriptions and info about your staff, which allows the receptionists to handle a lot of basic enquiries without ever interrupting you in the office.
7. Eliminates The Headache of Handling Hiring, Absences, Training and Performance Monitoring
When hiring staff, small business owners need to take into account more than just the wage they’ll need to pay. Time, effort and money all go into the process of hiring people, as well as making sure they are doing a good job and are happy in their role. As well as eliminating another name from your payroll, a phone answering service gets rid of all of the added responsibilities and stresses of hiring a dedicated receptionist.
8. Creates The Illusion of Size
A virtual assistant lends your business a bit of legitimacy and the illusion of size. Even in Grow’s infancy, when the business was run from an old laptop in our MD’s living room, we still had a telephone answering service because we knew that we needed to have good brand perception. Because with many services you can provide your virtual receptionist with custom scripts, you can maintain any brand voice and personality that you may have already created online or elsewhere.
9. Messages Taken Can Be Sent To The Business By Text or Email, Meaning You Can Access Your Messages Anywhere
With most telephone answering services, your messages are comprehensively logged and securely stored, so you’ll never lose or accidently delete an important message ever again. Even more importantly, many services give you access to a catalogue of your messages wherever you are, which is a great resource when dealing with potential customers or pitching to new clients. It also helps with coordinating the activities of everyone in your team. With a messaging service, everyone is kept in the loop and there are no slip-ups in communication.
10. Usually No Contract and No Set-Up Fee – Pay As You Go So You’re Never Paying Over The Odds
Although it varies from provider to provider, as a rule you won’t need to sign any contract and you can monitor spending by either paying a fixed monthly rate, or a pay as you go tariff, so you’ll never receive any unexpected bills.
11. It’s All About The Personal Touch
Answering machines should be banned for small businesses. If Grow were in charge of the country, the first thing we’d do is make it illegal for small businesses to use answering machines. It reflects badly on you, makes you look disorganised and will turn customers off before they’ve even had a chance to get through to you. A call answering service means that whenever they call, potential clients get through to an actual human being.
12. Free Trials Are Often Available
If you’re not sure you really need a telephone answering service, or want to test how effective it will be for your company, many providers offer a free trial. As a small business, Grow know how important it is for smaller businesses to manage expenses and spend money where it matters most. A free trial means that you can measure whether a virtual receptionist really will improve your business.
It’s a good idea during this test period to do a couple of “secret shopper” calls yourself to make sure that the service is satisfactory. Ring up with a couple of messages or a question so you can evaluate for yourself how the receptionists handle your enquiry.
13. You Can Have An 0800 Number Or a Landline, Even If You Only Have a Mobile
This is especially useful for small businesses that need to be able to provide clients with free support and assistance. As well as this, only having a mobile number on your website is a sure sign that your business is a one-man band.
14. Ensures That Calls Are Answered Promptly and Efficiently, Even At Busy Times, So You Won’t Miss a Potential Client
Having a virtual assistant means that calls will never ring through or go unanswered. As well as this, during busy periods the call centre will be able to handle any unexpected spikes in the number of calls, meaning that you’ll never lose out on potential business.
15. Makes Call Recording a Viable Option
Call recording offers small businesses a number of advantages. Firstly, you can keep a record of any details you forget to write down or lose after the phone call. Secondly, if you run a small business you probably have pretty limited legal resources, but being able to record and log all of your calls will help protect you in the event of a dispute.
Call recording is often expensive to do in-house, but with a telephone answering service it can become an affordable option.
16. Some Services Offer An Order-Line Service Where Customers Can Buy Direct Through The Telephone Answering Service
This is a handy option for any business that sells physical products. Having a secure, easy-to-use phone-ordering service is great for you, your customers and your business.
17. Increases Productivity of Your Staff
Research has shown that telephone calls are the single biggest distraction people face in the workplace.
Answering the call isn’t necessarily the problem, either. When you are constantly having your workflow interrupted, it breaks your momentum. The time wasted isn’t the time it takes to answer the call, it’s all the time it takes to get yourself back into the swing of your work.
When you and your staff are being bombarded with calls, this can be a serious drain on the productivity of everyone in your office. A telephone answering service can field all of your calls, so not only will you never need to take a cold call again, but when you need to concentrate on something important, you only need to handle high priority calls.
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