If you own a business, you know that making a good first impression is a very important component of attracting and keeping clients. While the Internet is part of the business world now, there are still many people who prefer to communicate over the phone. No matter what industry you are in, it’s important for your customers to have the means to contact your business via phone and get the help or information they need. If you are starting a new business and don’t have a receptionist yet, or if your current staff is overwhelmed, an answering service could be a great help to your business.
How an Answering Service Works
An answering service works well for many businesses. When you hire an answering service, you are connected with a team of professional receptionists who will answer all your calls with your company’s name and information. Essentially, you get a receptionist for every call without worrying about after-hours calls or overwhelming call volume during busy seasons.
Benefits for New Businesses
There are many benefits to hiring an answering service for your company. If you are just starting a new business, you probably have all your business calls routed to your mobile phone. This can be fine during business hours, but can quickly cause problems when you have to turn off your phone for meetings or to take clients to lunch. A virtual answering service solves that problem by taking your business calls whenever you desire.
You can choose to have all business calls routed to the service, or only route calls there when you are unavailable. People usually associate a professional receptionist with personal service and large, successful business, so an answering service can help your new company get off to a great start. It may even be more affordable to hire an answering service than to keep an in-house receptionist.
Benefits for Established Businesses
Even if your business is already successful and you have a full-time receptionist, a telephone answering service can still provide benefits for you. As the business world moves closer to a 24-hour-per-day operating schedule, you may be worried about your customers calling after traditional business hours and getting a voicemail machine. You could solve this problem by hiring an answering service to take calls during certain hours of the day or night, which allows your receptionist to have a lunch break and leave on time every night. It also means you don’t have to look for a temporary employee when your receptionist is out sick or on holiday.
If you work in an industry where there are busy seasons, you may worry about missing calls due to high volume. This is another area when an answering service can be extremely helpful. Whereas you may only have a single in-house receptionist, an answering service employs many people to serve as virtual receptionists for your business. No matter how many calls your business gets during the busy season, you can be confident they will be answered in a timely and professional manner.
Answering Service Options
One of the best things about a virtual answering service is that you can customise it to fit the exact needs of your business. You can choose when calls are routed to the service and advise the virtual receptionists about how you want calls to be answered. Receptionists can take messages and forward them to you, or transfer calls straight through to whomever you specify. Some answering services also offer specific types of call handling, such as emergency response. This type of service can be wonderful for businesses that have on-call personnel 24 hours a day. The answering service can accept all calls and forward the urgent ones to your on-call personnel, while taking messages for any calls that are not of an emergency nature.
Additional Call Services
Some answering services offer additional options along with handling calls. You may be able to find a service that provides outbound calling to help your business with certain tasks. For example, if your business maintains a database of potential clients, you may hire a service to follow up with those contacts. If your customer database hasn’t been updated in a long time, that is another opportunity for outbound calling. Your answering service can help keep your database up to date with current information, as well as checking for duplicates or any incomplete entries. If part of your business includes any sort of outbound marketing, you can hire an answering service to perform these calls for you. This leaves you free to concentrate on your business, and also ensures your in-house employees are not overwhelmed with too many tasks.
How to Choose the Right Answering Service
Since answering services came into existence several years ago, there are more companies entering the marketplace all the time. When you are looking to hire an answering service for your business, it can be difficult to choose the right one from among the range of choices. There are a few things you can look for to help you choose a reliable company. One of the first things you should verify is that the answering service has all the options you want for your business. If you want a service to simply answer your phone calls and take messages after hours, you should look for a company that will provide the best value for a limited range of services. However, if you are looking for a highly customisable answering service with several options, or special choices such as outbound calling, you may have to look harder to find a company that will suit your needs.
Another thing you should look for is a company that is willing to work with you to meet all your needs. This could mean offering customisable services, or allowing you to change the level of service for your business during the holidays or a busy season. A company that offers a free trial of its service shows that it really cares about its customers and values good business practices.