The purpose of an answering service is to handle calls on a business’ behalf, whether that be during busy times or in lieu of hiring additional staff.
For larger companies, a telephone answering service is there to handle overflow calls during busy periods or when there are staff shortages. When customers are waiting for their calls to be answered by your existing team, PAs at the answering service are ready to pick them up and deal with the enquiries quickly and professionally.
Alternatively, if you’re a small business owner, you may have had to learn the hard way how to do your own marketing, accounting, and all the other routine tasks associated with running a typical small business. This likely includes handling phone calls yourself.
As your business grows, however, you’re now having to keep up with more clients and find that you don’t have the time (or expertise) anymore to handle your taxes or bookkeeping anymore, never mind keeping your email inbox down to a manageable level. As your turnaround time for emails, phone calls, and social media comments gets longer and longer, customers may start to feel that you no longer care about them.
Much like hiring a professional tax accountant to handle your taxes, hiring a virtual receptionist frees you from having to do many of your daily routine tasks yourself with the comfort of knowing that your customers are receiving prompt and professional service. Get back to doing what you do best!
Why Not Hire a Real Receptionist?
If answering services simply receive phone calls on your behalf, then why not just hire a receptionist for your business? Firstly, answering services can provide many other services in addition to handling incoming phone calls on your behalf. Second, hiring a receptionist may not be practical. You’ll also be liable to pay more in wages and associated costs.
A virtual receptionist or personal assistant (PA) has many advantages over hiring new employees and also provides businesses with the flexibility they need in order to better serve their customers.
What Are the Main Features of a Personal Assistant?
The main purpose of a PA for most business owners are the following:
- Diverting important phone calls to relevant personnel. This could include forwarding phone calls from family, friends, or key clients or suppliers directly to you or the right member of your organisation. This improves the caller’s experience by being connected to the right person and avoids situations where callers are redirected repeatedly, which can be a frustrating experience.
- Screening calls for spam or telemarketers. PAs can act as gatekeepers for your organisation, which means that they’re trained to efficiently deal with superfluous calls that would otherwise simply waste you or your employees’ valuable time.
- To cover existing receptionists or call centre teams. This could be because of staff shortages due to planned or unplanned leave, or it could be because you are experiencing an unusually high volume of calls.
- To act as more cost-effective off-site receptionist. Advertising a job posting for a receptionist, going through the interview and hiring process, and formulating job contracts for on-site receptionists requires a lot of time and resources. Moreover, the ongoing cost of a receptionist can quickly add up for small businesses. PAs are a cost-effective solution since the telephone answering service provider acts as an agent for sometimes multiple clients across many different industries. Cancelling your service, should you need to, is also a lot easier than laying off employees which can be a complex procedure.
How Can an Answering Service Benefit My Business?
Many businesses neglect the qualitative factors that affect customer experience. In this day and age, it’s a necessity for most businesses to have a website and social media presence in order to remain competitive.
Whilst these tools are great for marketing and can boost your interaction with customers, it’s no substitute for speaking to a real human being. This doesn’t necessarily mean one of your employees, but an agent representing your business over the phone such as a PA should have the right amount of professionality and industry knowledge to be able to handle and process typical incoming calls.
Call answering services are a great way to boost the qualitative aspects of your customers’ experience by providing all of the aforementioned benefits while you use your time productively creating value with your business.