Whether your business is expanding, or you’ve got a lot of staff absences coming up, there are lots of reasons why you might be considering getting an answering service. Many businesses use these services for the short term, perhaps during their busy months, or in the long term, perhaps to help them meet certain targets and ensure high customer satisfaction levels. It doesn’t matter what size company you have, you could be a sole trader or a multinational brand, there are lots of different levels and types of service available. However, you may be wondering what kind of product would suit you? Here are some of the possibilities you might want to consider.
Assessing Your Needs
The first thing to consider is where you need cover, and areas where having additional people on the phones might help. You might need help with:
- Covering staff sickness
- Covering phones when lots of staff are on holiday
- Out of hours service for emergencies
- Someone to screen calls while staff are busy
- Last minute cover on busy days
You may find it difficult to decide what kind of service you want, and in that case it’s a good idea to get in touch with the experts who can discuss your individual requirements. It may be that you need more than one type of cover, so finding someone who offers flexibility is key.
Overflow Call Taking
A popular use of telephone answering services is as an overflow call taking service. If you offer a service level agreement such as answering the phone within three rings, or only leaving people on hold for a minute or so, then you may need back-up at times to meet these levels.
You never know when a busy day is going to come along, so it’s worth signing up for this kind of service in advance. It’s then easy to switch on the service, ensuring that people aren’t stuck in endless queues feeling fed up. It’s much easier than trying to bring in staff on their day off, or finding temp staff to come in just for the day, and it frees up staff so they can take their time and help each customer individually.
Out Of Hours
You may only have a small business, but out of hours cover is suitable for companies of all sizes. Every business owner wants to expand, but you don’t want to be in the office all evening or taking calls at home at the weekend, and this is when a telephone answering service really comes in handy.
Advantages of having an out of hours answering service include:
- Customers from different time zones can reach you
- Messages can be e-mailed or texted to you so you can prioritise
- No need to take calls at home
- Can be cheaper than paying existing staff a premium for doing antisocial hours
It’s easy to set up this kind of cover, so if your customer service hours aren’t very long at the moment, then it’s worth giving it a try. You might be surprised how many calls come in outside of normal hours, and customers might not call back if they don’t get through first time.
Covering For Staff
There are many situations where you might not have enough staff, and this can mean your customer service quality suffers. It could be that all your staff want time off during half term, or you might be dealing with a sickness bug that means people are unable to come into the office. In these situations, it’s worth looking into a messaging service for the day, the week, or even the whole month, ensuring that your remaining staff aren’t put under undue pressure.
If you’re a smaller business, perhaps a sole trader or someone who works from home, then you might end up answering your own phone a lot of the time. It’s always great to have enquiries coming in, but it can get frustrating when you’re trying to get work done.
In these sorts of situations, hiring a virtual receptionist can make life so much easier. They can answer the phone in your company’s name, take messages, and then pass them on to you. You can then call people back when you’re less busy, and won’t be disturbed while in meetings or doing important jobs. If you need a peaceful work environment to do something difficult, then the last thing you need is the phone ringing off the hook, and so having a virtual receptionist can make all the difference.
Making Outbound Calls
It’s not just inbound calls that are important to businesses. However, many people simply don’t have the time to call all their customers, or even update their databases with relevant information. By using a telephone answering service, you can also get these sort of calls made. This means you could ask them to:
- Call customers who haven’t ordered for a while
- Contact potential clients who have registered for more information
- Make follow up calls
- Update your database with correct details
It’s so much easier if you can simply hand these sort of jobs over, as it means your sales staff don’t have to spend time making outbound calls or chasing up the right people, and will be provided with solid leads so they can close the deal.
Each company is unique with its own procedures and values, and that’s why it’s important to get a messaging service that suits your needs. It helps to work with an experienced company who really understands your needs, and offers many different services to choose from. When you sign up for this kind of service, then you need to discuss the services that will suit you with the team, and decide what will benefit your business the most. Ideally, you’ll want to find a company that offers a range of services, and has the experience to deal with many situations, so you can be sure that when calls are sent to them, your good reputation is kept intact.