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4 Reasons Every Small Business Needs A Top Answering Service

1) Save Money and Make Money

As your business grows, your budget will grow with it. But dedicating employees specifically to answering your phones is expensive. Beyond the cost that person’s salary, necessities such as a desk, phone, computer, and more add up. You may also offer your employees health benefits, another expense.

Some businesses make answering the phones a team effort. But you don’t want to pull other employees from their work to answer the phone. It cuts into their productivity.

A telephone answering service, however, gives you all the benefits of a highly-qualified customer service rep at a fraction of the cost. You’ll still get quality service and a knowledgeable person answering your phones.

The impact of a top answering service shows on your bottom line, too. Statistics show the close relationship between your customer experience and profitability:

  • Companies that focused on providing a superior experience across the customer journey increased their customer satisfaction by 20%, and increased their revenue by 10-15%.
  • If you provide excellent customer service, more than ⅔ of your customers will be willing to spend as much as 14% more on you business.
  • 78% of consumers bail on their intended transaction when they have a poor service experience.

2) Retain Valuable Customers

Consumers have come to expect businesses to be available 24/7. They call whenever it’s most convenient for them.

Only answering the phone during business hours leaves 16 hours a day when customer calls can go unanswered. And most callers won’t leave a message or wait for a return call. In fact, 67% of customers hang up if they’re unable to reach a real live person.

As much as business owners focus on generating new sales, building up the value of your existing customer base is a much more affordable venture, especially when you partner with a top answering service. It’s often more fruitful, too.

Working with a telephone answering service that can answer after-hours calls ensures your customers are taken care of. With a live answering service, current and potential customers won’t slip through the cracks. Having peace of mind doesn’t hurt either.

As much as we focus on the positives, there are the downsides to poor customer service.

Today, information is readily available, and review sites like Yelp and the BBB are a key source of recommendations for many consumers. One bad experience and review can be the difference between another potential customer using your small business or choosing a competitor. And it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience.

3) Project Big-Business Professionalism

Whether a busy business owner or intern picks up your phone, they become the voice of your company. And especially if a new prospect is on the other line, this could be their first experience with your business.

A top answering service – with dedicated, fully-trained receptionists – ensures that your prospects’ first impressions are always good impressions. As the voice of your company, your receptionists are there to answer calls promptly and politely, and in a quiet office to eliminate bad connections, dropped calls and generally bad experiences.

To a caller, an answering service receptionist may as well be sitting in your office or place of business when they answer. And no matter the size of your business, callers couldn’t distinguish between a 5-employee company and a 500-employee company. That’s just another benefit of a top answering service.

4) Focus on Your Company’s Most Important Tasks

It can be difficult for any size company to handle its call volume. But it can be especially tough for small businesses to manage. With several employees wearing many hats, many responsibilities are a team effort.

But with answering the phones often a lower priority, a busy time during the day could play out like this:

You answer one call and engage in a 10-minute conversation with your customer. During that time, two more calls come in, which you’re unable to answer. One of those callers leaves a voicemail. When you call that customer back, another call comes in, which you miss. And you ultimately can’t reach that person who left the message. That’s three potential customers who weren’t able to reach you, all within a 15-minute window.

It doesn’t help that some calls simply don’t apply to you. But a telephone answering service can weed through your calls for you. And taking the duty of answering calls away from your team frees them to focus on their more value-added responsibilities.

With an answering service, only the most important calls be forwarded to you, freeing your entire team up.

 

-Aaron Boatin

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Statistics on Phone Answering Services That You Need to Know

For many small businesses, the important need of the hour is to minimize costs, bring in more productivity and let operations yield better results.

Considering that phone answering services can cost a lot at times, most entrepreneurs and businessmen would definitely wonder what a phone answering service can possibly do to help in their business. For one, do they really need a phone answering service? The answer, at least according to statistics, seems to be a profound ‘yes’. Over the past two decades, answering services have made a huge impact on many enterprises and helped them flourish like never before. The customers are extremely happy to call a toll free number and have a solution to their problems.

Here are certain statistics that you need to know about phone answering services.

Around 72 to 80 percent callers hang up when the call isn’t picked up the first time!!

For all those who think that voicemail is a better option, this statistical value is an eye opener for them!! If statistics are to be believed, as high as 72 to 80 percent callers hang up and never leave a message as soon as they hear the voicemail. The same happens if the call is diverted to another number. Today people are so busy that they actually want their problems to be solved as soon as possible and messaging a voicemail definitely does not help. People these days want to talk to someone live and help them with their problems or at least direct them to someone who can.

Poor phone skills leave a bad impression

Well yes “first impression is the last impression”. And statistics do prove that. An excruciatingly high no of people have reported that poor phone skills do leave a bad impression. And this number is as high as 98 percent!! So here is an answer for all those who think that it really does not matter who answers their phone calls. The fact of the matter is that it does.

More than 80 percent of the business communications are over the phone.

Surprising it may seem to be, but it is true. Although emails are great but still people do prefer listening to a voice and talking live to communicate. And if a good phone answering service is your leading voice, it cannot get better than this.

Poor phone answering communications leads to ending of the business relationship.

Yes it is true. Almost 71 percent of the customers do end their business relationship because they think that the communications over the phone are not impressive. So choose your phone answering service wisely.

 

-Davis Walker

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What is an Answering Service?

If you’re looking for an affordable, reliable and professional way to handle all of your customer service demands and effectively manage client communication for your business, you should consider an answering service. An answering service is one of the best decisions you can make for your business, but if you’ve never used a call answering service, you probably have a lot of questions before you make the decision.

What is an answering service?

An answering service is a group of trained customer service professionals who answer telephone calls from clients and customers, take detailed messages and relay these messages directly to a client or appropriate employee. Customer service professionals are well-versed in speaking to customers from a wide variety of industries.

How do you access messages from a telephone answering service?

Telephone answering service clients can personally customize their means of message delivery in a way that best suits their business. These message receipt options are:

  • Text messages
  • Email Messages
  • Fax Messages
  • Call-in directly to Answering Service for your messages
  • Request a call from the Answering Service for your messages
  • Record messages and listen to them, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Send your messages directly to multiple recipients with convenient options.

What businesses can use an answering service?

There is literally almost no business that cannot benefit from an answering service. Whether you own or operate a real estate company, a doctor’s office, dentist, lawyer, construction companies, retail stores, beauty salon or a plumbing company. There are benefits and uses for call service. Answering services can help you manage client call overflow, answer after hours calls, cover your calls on holidays and weekends and take the place of hiring a full-time secretary.

What are the hours of an answering service?

An answering service is all about being there when you can’t and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Answering services are open during major holidays, such as Christmas, July 4th and New Year’s Day.

How can answering services save your company’s money?

Hiring an employee to manage the phone calls is very expensive. There are hourly wages, plus covering insurance costs. Many small offices do not have the space or the resources to hire someone to answer the phone all day. An answering service is an affordable solution to this problem.

How do I know if I need an answering service company?

If you are on the fence about using an answering service, you should ask yourself a few key questions:

  • Do you find it difficult to answer all of your calls”
  • Are you always checking your business voicemail due to missed calls?
  • Is your voicemail frequently full?
  • Does it take you more than an hour to return missed customer phone calls?
  • Do you lose productivity due to always being tied up on the phone?
  • Do you have trouble managing after-hour phone calls?

 

-Michael Mckenzie

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15 Surprising Answering Service Statistics

62% of customers stopped doing business with a company after receiving ‘poor customer service.’ (2015)

60% of customers expect more from customer service now than they did 1 year ago. (2015)

76% of customers believe the service they receive shows how much a company values them. (2016)

Answering service barriers

14% of customers think lacking updated technology is a barrier for good customer service. (2016)

45% of customers believe a company’s lack of interest in their customers is the biggest obstacle to the ideal customer experience. (2016)

47% of customers say how quickly a business responds when they’ve made a complaint or inquiry is a ‘vital element in the overall customer experience.’ (2015)

63% of company executives say one of the biggest problems with improving customer service come from silos inside the company and a lack or improper use of integrated information systems. (2016)

Shifting paradigms

53% of professionals in customer service say analytics will have the biggest influence on customer service over the next 5 years. (2015)

84% of consumers are using web self-service over assisted service – an increase of 17% since 2012. (2015)

90% of customers expect a company to provide some kind of self-service customer support portal. (2015)

75% of businesses say customer service is a way to differentiate their business from the competition – an increase of 18% since 2014. (2016)

Predictions

80% of customer service professionals believe their current system won’t meet future customers’ needs. (2015)

50% of all customer service agent interactions will be influenced by real-time analytics by 2018. (2015)

25% of customer support operations will include a virtual customer assistant across information channels by the end of 2018. (2015)

Creating relevant content for customers will become a vital attribute for leading organizations by 2018. (2015)

6 billion connected 20.8 billion connected ‘things’ (think IoT) will be online and requesting support by 2020. (2016)

 

 

-Conversational

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10 Things to Look for When Choosing a Telephone Answering Service

1. Around the clock support

The perfect telephone answering service for your company’s needs will be available to answer your calls on a moment’s notice, such as if you or your day staff have to leave the office for an emergency. In general, the best of the best out there will charge you the same rate for after hours and holiday support as they do during regular business hours.

2. Logical and manageable pricing

There are few purchases that are more frustrating than walking into a car dealer, committing to a purchase, and being hit with one compounding fee after another. Much like how a dealer will charge you “shipping fees” when the car is already sitting on the lot, some digital telephone answering services will charge you for things that just don’t make sense if you don’t read the fine print.

Fees such as setup fees (even though there’s no equipment to install) can really hurt your bottom line. Fees such as “per unit” (per call), “per minute” (total duration of combined calls), and their various sub-categories should be easy to interpret and make sense when compared to the competition’s pricing – otherwise, go with the competition!

3. In-house management and training of staff

You may decide this isn’t a priority for your business, and that’s fine. However, most brands will benefit in a big way from hiring the services of a telephone answering service that employs onsite staff and trains them according to both yours and your caller’s needs. This type of setup will almost always have better employee management, call turnaround times, message accuracy, quality assurance practices, and offer a better all-round service experience for you and your callers.

Phone answering service staff

4. Offer services that can grow (and grow with) your business

You might only require a message-taking service to handle incoming calls after business hours for now. However, in the future, as business and consumer needs grow, you might decide you need other features such as call screening and call forwarding during business hours, a virtual receptionist, appointment setters, or access to specialized call center staff for sales calls and/or technical troubleshooting. It doesn’t make sense to start a relationship with a service only to outgrow them in a year’s time.

5. They need to have a solid disaster recovery plan

You should ask them straight about redundancy and how they can recover from things like power outages, server jam-ups and crashes, whether they have backup ISPs and how they store and manage data in the event any of the above take place. These variables are harder to manage if the service hires remote workers, but at the very least they should be able to make you feel secure they’ve dealt with redundancy before and can recover quickly so your callers don’t suffer.

6. Same day activation can be a warning sign

This is another concern, but not necessarily a concern for all businesses looking to hire an answering service. If you know those answering your calls are going to need some level of training and understanding about your business and its callers, any company who promises same day activation isn’t likely to be concerned about the quality of service they offer. These folks will be the face and voice of your brand, and it should take the company at least a few days to get their staff selected and on board with your requirements.

7. The answering service you hire should have industry-related experience

You really don’t want a tenth-grader answering calls for your medical practice. Nor would you want someone who has never operated a vacuum booking appointments for your carpet cleaning business. Not only will a company that’s experienced in your line of business already have a solid set of practices and procedures for answering your calls, they’ll be able to offer more personalized service to the people calling your business.

Account manager

8. You should be put in touch with an actual account manager

If a call answering service doesn’t offer you a direct line to the staff manager heading up your account, run the opposite direction! Unless you absolutely only need someone to pick up the phone and say hi, and your needs will never grow past that, you’ll need someone to contact in order to help refine call scripts and discuss the messages and call logs that you’re given. This feat is much harder to accomplish when you’re forced to call or email back and forth with whatever random rep is available at the time.

9. They need to be able to provide you with documentation of each call

Preferably in a voice recorded format, with typed call logs you can access from your remote dashboard whenever you wish. When a customer or business partner calls you directly and refers to a claim or promise that was made to them by the answering service rep, you need to be able to figure out what was said by both parties. “He said, she said” is not a fun game to play when you’re paying for an answering service to help lighten the load.

10. The call answering service you choose should pass the “sniff test”

Reviews of the service you’re considering are invaluable in helping to make the right decision. Any service worth doing business with should have at least a few detailed reviews you can view online. If they’re a recent upstart, ask to be put in touch with their current and past clients so you can vet how effective they are at serving their clients.

 

-Neil Duncan

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