From social media, to chat bots, to email, to contact forms, there are so many ways for businesses and customers to communicate.
With so much new technology to use, it can be easy to overlook the benefits of old fashioned human-to-human communication and actually talking to another person.
And this is a big mistake.
While customers might prefer to use other forms of communication like email, social or chatbots for certain enquiries, there’ll always be the occasions when they’ll want to talk to a real person.
And if the phone rings and you don’t answer, you risk losing out on a sale, or putting a customer relationship at risk.
The cost of missed calls
As a business you might not think it’s such a big deal if you miss one call.
If a customer wants to buy something from you or use your services, they’ll just leave a message or call you back later, right?
In fact, according to research by BT, it’s highly unlikely.
According to their research, 85% of people will only call a business once and won’t call back later if that first call isn’t answered.
Three quarters of potential customers won’t even leave a voicemail.
While that might seem a bit shocking, is it really that surprising?
As a customer, if one company doesn’t answer the phone, it’s so much easier to just return to Google and call the next business on the list – rather than leaving a voicemail and hoping you get a call back at some point.
And this is proving costly for businesses.
Businesses lose around £1,200 for every missed call, according to BT Business’ research.
It’s estimated that in total, UK SMEs lose about £90m due to missed calls.
How telephone answering fits into this
With customers still valuing human communication, and a lot of lost revenue on the line if you fail to pick up the phone, you need to make sure calls are answered when they come in.
But you can just do that yourself can’t you?
You might think so.
In reality though, when you’re a small business or a sole trader, it can be easier said than done to answer all your calls.
Your time is precious when you run a business and you need to make sure you’re always prioritising revenue generation.
Whether that’s focusing on jobs so you can get paid.
Or finding and signing new clients or customers.
Plus there’s all your admin you have to take care of.
And if you have employees you’ll have additional tasks like HR and payroll taking up your time.
When the phone rings, it can be easy to miss a call.
Or you might just be in a position where you can’t get away to answer it.
If you’re already with a customer for example, you can’t exactly walk away to take another call can you.
Even if you have employees, you can’t guarantee the quality of your call answering.
When employees are busy, a phone going off is often seen as a distraction rather than an opportunity to make a sale or help a customer.
And when it’s a sales call, it’s just wasted time taking employees away from their jobs.
Telephone answering services can help with all these problems.
Before we get into that though, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about what we mean by ‘telephone answering services’.
And if you’re wondering what type of businesses can benefit from using a telephone answering service, you can read this blog for more information.
What is a telephone answering service?
A telephone answering service is a dedicated, professional service that guarantees all your incoming calls are dealt with properly.
Using a team of outsourced, remote receptionists, all your calls can be answered as they would be if you answered the phone yourself, or as if you had a professional front of house at your office.
This isn’t a call centre style set up.
Telephone answering services work as an extension of your business.
You know who your receptionists are and you’ll spend time with them during the initial set up to ensure they understand how you want each call, and different types of calls, to be dealt with.
Your PAs can deal with incoming calls, take messages and transfer calls to you or your team.
Some telephone answering services also offer additional support like diary management.
The only difference is, they work remotely.
Telephone answering service vs ‘traditional’ receptionists
A professional telephone answering service is a great alternative to a traditional receptionist.
While they carry out the same job function, a call answering company is actually a lot more cost effective than a traditional receptionist behind a desk.
Having a full-time receptionist can easily cost you between £18,000 – £30,000 a year in basic salary.
If you want a receptionist with experience in a specific sector, or are London based, salary costs can be even higher.
But the salary is just the start.
On top of that you’ve also got holiday and sick pay, tax and pension contributions.
Plus the admin of taking on employees.
And even if you do hire someone, they can only deal with one call at a time, and you lose your call answering every time they get up to make a drink, go on lunch, or nip to the loo.
Yet you’re still paying the salary.
You’re also paying a fixed salary regardless of how busy you are.
With a telephone answering service you get a team of PAs who are available to answer your calls for you.
At Face For Business for example you’ll usually have a team of up to six PAs to deal with call handling led by a lead PA.
Whenever one PA isn’t available, the other steps in.
That way you’ve always got a resource available to answer your calls.
Plus, you’ll only pay for the services you use, whether that’s by volume of calls or time spent on the phone.
You can read more about how a telephone answering service works in this blog.
Benefits of using a telephone answering service
There are several benefits to using a telephone answering service for your business, including:
Never miss a call
We’ve already talked about the risks of missing calls or sending customers to voicemail. A telephone answering service removes this problem by making sure all your incoming calls are answered and dealt with professionally.
Professionalise your ‘front of house’
Busy employees won’t always answer the phone the way you want them to.
When they’re busy, a sudden phone call taking them away from work can feel more like an inconvenience than anything else.
Your PAs will always deal with calls in a professional tone and set the stage for a better customer experience.
Deal with calls more efficiently
Businesses rarely deal with one call at a time, especially during peak periods.
Hiring a telephone answering service provides you with a dedicated team of PAs who can handle higher call volumes than a single member of staff, while delivering the same level of personal service to your customers.
Be more productive
While you might want to answer every call, taking time out of your day to answer them can take you away from more important things like planning for the future of your company.
Especially when it’s a sales call.
By having a team of PAs handle your calls you can have more time to focus on your work and be more productive.
Save more money
Unlike hiring a full-time or part-time member of staff, you’ll only pay for the service you use when hiring a telephone answering service.
Some will charge based on call volume, others by time spent on the phone.
Either way, you’ll spend less than if you hired a member of staff.
This can free up more money to invest elsewhere in your business.
Extend your opening hours
Not every customer or prospect will want, need, or be able to call you during the normal 9-5.
It’s not practical for you to be available 24/7 – unless you’re planning on burning out.
A telephone answering service can extend your opening hours for you so your business can take calls for a longer period, including weekends.
That way you’re not missing potential new business without committing to a longer work day.
Filter out unwanted sales calls
Third party sales calls are simply part of running a business.
From office supplies to new software, there’s always a company trying to sell you their product or service.
But when these calls are becoming a hassle and getting in the way of your day, you need a way to take them off your hands.
A telephone answering service does that by filtering calls and acting as a barrier between you and the calls you don’t want to deal with.
Your PAs can also request for you to be removed from any sales lists so you don’t have to bother with sales calls in the future.
How a telephone answering service can help you grow your business
Investing in a telephone answering service is about creating a better, more reliable call answering facility in your business that helps customers.
But, it can also provide more opportunities for you to focus on growing your company and increasing your revenue and profits.
Save on staff costs
Instead of paying for full or part-time staff, you can simply pay for the call answering you need and reinvest the savings into other parts of your business. It could be another sales or marketing hire, or new software that can help you be more productive.
Free up your time
If you or your employees are constantly being pulled away from valuable work by calls, you’re not being as effective as you could be.
That could be time better spent making sales or completing client work. Or spending time in your business working on growth plans.
With a telephone answering service handling your incoming calls you’ll have more time to focus.
Create better brand loyalty
Customers are loyal to brands that offer better services.
And with a reputation as a company that’s easy to get in touch with, and support that’s professional and efficient, you can grow your reputation and create better brand loyalty to attract and retain more customers.
Stop missing sales from missed calls
We’ve already mentioned this one, but its importance can’t be underestimated.
When the prospect of missing a call means losing a sale and revenue, you need to make sure you’re answering every phone call made to your business.
Even if a single sale is only a few hundred pounds, that can quickly amount to a lot over the course of a year if you’re consistently missing one or two calls a day.
Qualify sales leads before they get to your sales team
Lead qualification is something every business should do if they want to create an efficient sales function.
Without qualifying leads before contacting them, you could be damaging the sale potential, or just wasting your sales team’s time.
With a telephone answering service, you can provide your PAs with your lead qualifying questions and have them run through the answers with the prospect before forwarding the message on to the appropriate person.
If you trust your PAs, you could also work with them on your lead quality framework and have your PA automatically book meetings with prospects directly when they meet the right criteria.
This is valuable to sales teams, with 22% saying that lead qualification is the most challenging part of the sales process due to the time it can take.
Which telephone answering service is best for you?
Before you can invest in telephone answering services, you need to find the right provider, and that means asking some questions.
Not all telephone answering services offer the same type or level of service, some have specialists in specific sectors, some charge differently.
Given the importance of telephone answering on the perception of your business and your reputation, you need to find a supplier you can trust and who you feel will represent your business in the best way.
Here’s a few key things to consider:
- Are they UK based?
- Are they a telephone answering service or a call centre?
- Do you get to meet or speak to the receptionists who’ll be handling your calls?
- What type of contract do they offer?
- How much do they charge?
- How flexible are the costs and services
There’s many other things to consider as well:
How many clients does your call answering service have?
If your telephone answering service doesn’t have many clients, it could be because they’re new, or it could be because their level of service isn’t very good.
On the other hand, if they’ve got a large number of clients, you risk ending up just being another number on their books.
When looking for a provider, look for one with a good mix of clients and – more importantly – look at their case studies and testimonials to see what customers say about them.
Do they provide you with full call recordings?
Your telephone answering service might promise you the best call answering in the world, but how do you know they’re providing it?
As well as providing you with your messages, your answering service should also be able to provide you with the complete call recordings of every conversation they have.
This way you can listen back and hear exactly how your PAs are dealing with calls and request any changes.
At Face For Business for example we provide all your call recordings through your dedicated client app.
Not every telephone answering service provides this service though, so make sure you ask.
Do they only offer call answering?
If you only need someone to answer your calls for now, then a telephone answering service will be able to help with that.
But later, when your business is growing and you’re trying to deal with more meetings, juggle more diaries and maybe even trying to improve your online customer experience, could your call answering service help there too?
Alongside our telephone answering we provide a dedicated live chat service to improve customer communication online, along with a dedicated virtual assistant service that can help with essential admin like diary management.
These additional services can add further productivity gains and improve the customer experience.
But if you hire a company that doesn’t offer all this under one roof, it can mean outsourcing to multiple companies and managing the additional costs and paperwork.
Do they offer extended opening hours?
If you want a call answering service that can help deal with out of hours calls, you’ll need to make sure that’s a service they offer.
Also, what times do they actually operate and does their service include any weekend call handling?
You’ll also want to know how these out-of-hours calls are relayed to you.
Do you get them sent to you straight away?
Or are they simply dropped into an email for you to deal with on Monday or the next working day?
What training do your call handlers get?
Are the PAs dealing with your calls fully training receptionists with knowledge of your business and what you do?
Or are they simply given a phone and a script and set to work answering important calls without any real idea of what your business is about?
This training should go beyond simply how to answer the phone and take a detailed message.
Sometimes your PA might have a call they’re not prepared for.
If they get flustered and stumble, it’s not going to paint your business in the best light.
Ask what training your team gets and also whether it’s a basic ‘introductory’ training when they first start or if it’s ongoing.
For the record, all of our PAs go through a rigorous 13 weeks training program including basic call handling, followed by three stages of calls until they’re able to confidently deal with any type of caller.
This is followed by ongoing training as they continue working with us.
Will you get charged an early exit fee?
Sometimes things just don’t work out with a supplier
Other times you sign up to a service and realise it’s not benefitting you right now.
But will you be allowed to leave your contract early, or will there potentially be a costly early exit fee involved?
What calls can my telephone answering service deal with?
If you hire the right telephone answering service, they should be able to deal with as many calls as you need them to.
You might need a service that can handle every call you get.
Maybe it’s just to handle some overflow calls that you can’t get around too.
Or maybe you just need extra assistance during peak periods or seasonal increases in demand.
What you want is a service that’s able to just deal with the calls you need them to without being too costly, but with the flexibility built in that your service can take on more or less later on as your needs change.
By the way, that’s exactly the kind of model we operate at Face For Business. You can bring us in to deal with whatever calls you need help with initially, but we’re more than happy to work around your capacity and take on more or less as and when you need.
Why not get in touch and let’s see how we can help you.
How do you manage communication with your answering service?
If you choose Face For Business to help with your call answering, you can handle all your messages with us and access all your call recordings through your dedicated client portal on our app.
You’ll also have access to an online portal where you can view your account, look at your call history and assess changes in requirements as well as access your recordings.
Not all telephone answering services provide this though, and you might end up with a supplier who simply emails you messages that could easily get lost in the spam you receive.
When you’re hiring a call answering service, you’ll want to know the communication they have with you is as smooth as the communication they have with your customers, so make sure you ask about it up front.
Why Choose Face For Business for my telephone answering?
We provide a range of telephone answering and virtual PA services across the UK.
Our UK based call handlers and virtual PAs provide reliable, consistent telephone and admin support to businesses across all kinds of sectors and of most sizes.
From SMEs to large organisations, we cover call handling for them all.
Here’s what some of our customers say about working with us:
“Face For Business are superb! Vicky is fantastic and all my callers love her and her team. Thanks for taking care of my customers and answering my calls so professionally and personally!”
“Absolute essential part of our business. We asked FFB to take over our inbound calls to enable us to work more efficiently. 1st class service, which is hard to come by these times. Can highly recommend.”
“Absolute top service from Face For Business. We use them exclusively to handle our inbound landline calls, and the response from our customers has been amazing.”