What are telephone answering services : An answering service to take your calls
Are you thinking about implementing answering services as part of your business model? In this article, you’ll discover everything you need to know about this solution, why it could benefit your business and how it might become one of your greatest strengths.
A Fresh Perspective On An Old Idea
Think phone interactions are dead? Think again. A lot of companies are under the impression that customers no longer want to contact businesses over the phone. However, the research refutes this idea completely.
Indeed, in one survey 77% of customers said that they believed a phone call was the best way to get a quick answer from the business. Furthermore, when seeking to resolve an issue 40% of customers want to speak to a real person on the phone.
If your customers still value phone interactions you should too.
However, there’s a problem here and it’s particularly true for small companies. Most businesses don’t have the time or resources to pick up the phone for every call. This can lead to a lot of missed opportunities as well as unhappy customers who feel undervalued and under-appreciated.
Large corporations may have the staff to deal with phone queries and requests. They may not have to worry about taking key staff members away from processes that are related to business growth.
With a telephone answering service and a virtual telephone number it is possible for small and medium-sized businesses to level the playing field. With the right solution, you can offer the same level of customer support and rapid service that clients demand and receive from larger companies.
What Is A Telephone Answering Service?
Telephone answering is a fantastic way to handle the influx of calls your business receives on a daily basis. You can do this without hiring additional full-time team members or putting pressure on existing employees in your company.
Instead, you rely on the solution provided by a professional outsourcing team that hires the best, highly qualified agents to handle the calls for you. Instead of calls being sent to your company, they are redirected to professional customer service operators. They can then:
- Deal with issues that customers are facing
- Handle payments and other key processes
- Respond to leads effectively
Indeed, you will be able to use answering services in a way that matches the individual goals of your business. A solution like this can be completely personalized to match your individual company needs.
How Does A Telephone Answering Service Work?
If you choose to use a telephone answering service, you will be allocated a new number. You can then use this number as the main contact point for your business. Once operational, you will be able to decide the number of calls that are directed to you and the quantity that is directed straight to the outsourcing solution.
For instance, you may choose to only redirect overflow calls that your business is unable to handle. Alternatively, you could direct all customer queries to the outsource solution. Again, this depends on the needs and individual set up of your business.
The solution is completely scalable too. As such, you don’t need to worry about paying too much for an extensive service that goes beyond what you need. You can get the precise level of support required to match your company. This ensures the costs are affordable and the rates will fit any business budget.
Furthermore, you will be provided with complete control over how calls are handled. This can go as far as selecting the specific greeting that representatives use when they answer the phone. You will also be able to ensure that operatives follow a specific framework of responses.
Essentially, this ensures that the brand image of your business remains perfectly intact and is even strengthened. The call answering service provided can be a seamless part of your business model. Customers and clients will not be aware that the representative they engage with is an outsourced agent rather than an in-house member of your team.
Once you start utilizing answering services, you will unlock numerous benefits and advantages for your business. Customers expect to talk to a professional representative of your business. With a call answering service they receive a professional level of service every time.
Beyond The Service Of Receptionist
Many companies choose a receptionist over an outsourced solution, but this can be a mistake. There are countless issues with hiring a receptionist that can weaken your business.
First, there’s the cost. Receptionists are always going to add an additional wage to your business that must be paid. Skirting around this issue by using a freelancer also leads to problems with availability and management. If a freelancer is unavailable, it will leave your phone in the office unmanned and cause you to miss crucial sale opportunities.
Furthermore, a receptionist will only be in the office on a typical 9-5 shift. For the rest of the day and the night, calls will be neglected completely. In many business sectors, customers will need to contact a business out of hours when your offices may be empty.
For instance, you might be managing an IT support solution. There is no set time frame on when IT issues can develop. You don’t want to leave your customers with no way to contact your business in their hour of need.
Furthermore, relying on a receptionist to handle calls, is going to lead to a lower level of customer service. A receptionist will always share other responsibilities that must be handled as well. Again, this can lead to more missed calls and a solution that impacts your brand image.
Preserve Your Reputation
Remember, reports suggest that 66% of customers will leave a business if they receive a poor level of customer service. They want to feel as though they are appreciated and valued members of your customer base.
This won’t happen if you leave them on hold for hours at a time. When customers contact your business they want to immediately speak to a representative of your business on the phone. Leaving them on hold can cause frustration and may even result in them abandoning your business completely.
Of course, you also need these calls to be handled the right way. Professional answering services has team members that are trained and focused on handling customer queries in a way that boosts your business reputation. You can gain complete peace of mind that calls will be answered in the same way as if you were handling each query yourself.
The Right Click To Call
Research shows that a ‘click to call campaign can be a tremendous asset to your business. Some reports suggest that it could lead to a 200% jump in conversion rates. However, this is only going to be effective if you have the right solution in place to deal with the leads generated. Answering services can be that solution. You can make sure that the transfer of a customer from your website to a phone interaction is smooth without any delays or issues. This is also a stronger option than asking customers to wait for an email response.
Remember, based on research by Google 59% of people contact your business on the phone because they want a fast response. Leaving them waiting to speak to a representative will always send the wrong message.
Changing With Demand
Many small and medium-sized businesses believe that an answering service is going to be a waste of their resources. Particularly, when they constantly have to change levels of call queries. Some sectors, in particular, see a high flow of call queries at certain points throughout the year and hardly any at others. This is another clear reason why it makes little sense to hire full-time team members to answer calls. At periods of low call levels, they will be left bored and cost your business a fortune.
With an answering service, this isn’t an issue. You could be running an accounting firm. Accountants will always see more queries from customers towards the end of the tax year when clients are desperately attempting to get their tax return handled the right way. At other times, the main priority will be maintaining relationships with existing clients. A call handling service can be used to ensure that extra support is delivered at the right time. It can be scaled to match the needs of a company at a specific point in time.
Other companies like retail businesses are going to see a higher level of demands through the festive period. Again, an answering service can be the perfect way to ensure that customer support levels remain consistent even when the flow of calls increases.
Your team members are an important asset to your business. You need to ensure that they remain productive and effective through their workday. Their level of work will ensure that your business is able to grow effectively and reach the full potential on the market.
You must ensure that issues that impact employee performance are handled the right way. Research suggests that answering calls is one of the greatest distractions that employees face. It could slow their performance and weaken your business position overall.
With answering services, this issue can be avoided completely. Instead, you can make sure that the phone never rings in your office at all. You will be able to ensure that your team members remain on task and focused.
What Businesses Can Benefit From Telephone Answering Services?
Are you wondering whether your business would benefit from an answering service? If so, then you need to ask yourself several questions:
- Does your business involve a lot of customer queries?
- Do you need a strong business reputation?
- Do you require additional support for handling calls effectively?
Arguably, every business owner will answer ‘yes’ to all three of these questions. There are no businesses that do not deal with countless customer and client queries every day. Whether you run a real estate agency or a small law firm, customers will be regularly contacting you, keen to speak to a representative. Similarly, in the world of online interaction and engagement, a problem with a business reputation can quickly lead to disaster. Customers also expect a rapid solution from businesses that they engage with. With the right answering service, it is easy to cater to this need. You can ensure calls are handled effectively and that clients proceed through the sales funnel.
You may think that you are able to handle the level of calls in your business. However, there are always going to be sales that you miss. Even if you can answer calls when you are in the office, what about when the office is closed. If you are running a recruitment agency, a lot of your clients will be busy at work throughout the day. They may instead attempt to make contact out of typical business hours. With answering services, you can ensure that someone is there to answer the call. You can guarantee that queries are handled and that potential clients are not left waiting for an email response.
As such, various small and medium-sized businesses could find that a telephone answering service is a huge benefit. This includes:
- Retail businesses
- Real estate agencies
- E-commerce companies
- IT support solutions
- Law Firms
- And more
Each of these sectors is perfectly positioned to gain huge benefits from the right answering services. It can even help companies gain the competitive edge they need when facing a high level of competition. It can help a company stand out in a crowded market. We have already seen key evidence that customers value phone interactions. With an answering service, smaller businesses can ensure that they are prepared and ready to answer the demand. This is going to help strengthen the entire business model and could even bring growth opportunities.
It’s clear then that telephone engagement is more important than ever for business owners. Call answering services provide the ideal solution. With this service, you will be able to ensure that your business remains effective and delivers the level of support that your customers will certainly demand.
Frequently Asked Questions
A phone answering service is an outsource company that answers calls for businesses. Generally, the service will either answer all or some of the incoming calls, talk to the caller and take a message that is then sent via email or SMS to the business owners.
It is really quite easy, basically the receptionist company will allocate a unique telephone number to your business, you will then divert your current business phone number to this new number (this may be after a number of rings to give you the opportunity to answer the call). A live virtual receptionist will then answer your incoming call, take a message and then send that message to an email address that you have provided. The whole process takes just a matter of minutes.
There are two main ways that answering service companies charge their customers. The first of these is to charge on the basis of the number of calls used and the second is to charge on the basis of number of minutes used. Before choosing an answering service you should consider which of these charging models works best for your business. If you regularly get long calls where callers like to spend a bit of time on the phone then you may be best with a per call method whilst if callers like to keep their interactions short and sweet then you might be best paying by the minute.
It very much depends on the call volume and also how often you want us to be answering your calls. If you require us to be answering all of your calls (effectively a replacement for you own internal receptionist) then it will be significantly more than if we simply answer your after hours or overflow calls. Generally, small businesses pay anything from around $100 per month up to a couple of thousand depending on what they require.
No, here at Virtual Headquarters we operate on a month to month basis. When you sign up you prepay for a month and then you prepay at the beginning of subsequent months. If you decide to cancel then you just need to give us a months notice.
During business hours your calls will be answered by receptionists that are located in our call center in Phoenix Arizona. After hours your calls will generally be answered by our USA staff however if we are experiencing a busy period then we may divert that call to our Australian staff or our UK based receptionists.