Growing a successful business is a challenge in any climate.
But at a time when customers are more demanding than ever when it comes to service.
When the traditional office based way of working is changing at a rapid pace.
And with more competition around for attention, has there ever been a more challenging time?
What it means is that any advantage can give you the edge.
But it also means being smarter with investments and looking at how you can distribute your resources most effectively.
One thing that is often overlooked when it comes to outsourcing and resources, is call answering.
Simply having a resource to answer incoming calls – rather than hiring a member of staff or trying to do it yourself – can not only ensure you answer every sales call that comes in, but frees you up to concentrate on growing your business.
Let’s see how a telephone answering service can help you grow your business.
Never miss a sales call
UK SMEs lose about £90m a year in lost sales simply by not picking up the phone when it rings.
That’s a huge amount of money to lose out on.
Not that it’s always the recipient’s fault.
Running a business is a delicate juggling act and you’ve only got so much time in the day.
When you’re completing work to generate revenue, or meeting clients or travelling between jobs, you can’t always pick up the phone.
But each missed call is costly.
Especially considering customers are more likely to move on and try another company if you don’t answer.
Oftentimes, customers admit to choosing a business simply because they answered the phone when others didn’t.
Professional call handling
Even if you’re able to answer every call that comes to you, when you’re busy and hassled it can be easy to sound snappy on the phone rather than answering in a professional tone.
If you answer the call like it’s an unwelcome distraction and the caller is a lead who’s interested in using your company, it’s not going to give a great impression and could put them off using you.
With a telephone answering service, your call agents handle every incoming call in a professional manner and either deal with enquiries directly, or forward calls or messages onto you.
Even if the caller has to leave a message, they’ll be reassured they’ve spoken to an actual person and that their enquiry is being dealt with, rather than being left in limbo having left a message with an automated voicemail.
Create more personalisation
More than a third of shoppers (36%) believe businesses should be more personalised.
And 80% are more willing to buy something from a company that provides personal experiences.
While it’s easy to overlook call answering in the mass of technology used by companies to communicate with customers, answering the phone with a person rather than an automated voice can get your personalised service off to the right start.
Customers much prefer talking to another person when they’re looking to buy something or have a query.
And there’s nothing that can replicate the personal service you get of actually speaking to a real human.
Built in flexibility
Whether it’s empowering employees to work from anywhere and investing in mobile technology, or improving collaboration with cloud based technology, flexibility has become a key trait in businesses.
Being flexible with allocation of resources is also becoming more important, and being able to distribute those resources to where they’re most needed on a given basis.
Telephone answering services are highly flexible because you can scale them based on your needs.
If you need more call answering to deal with peak times – like seasonal spikes in business – you can add to your capacity.
Then, you can reduce that capacity again once you’re in your quieter times.
Compare that to hiring a member of staff who you’ll pay for regardless of how busy you are, and investing in call answering makes more sense.
Extend your opening hours
One thing you can guarantee with customers and new business, is that they’ll call you outside of your opening hours.
It’s because these hours are often more convenient for them because they’re working during the day too.
If you’re only taking calls between 9-5 you’re potentially limiting yourself and missing out on important calls.
But you can’t work 24/7.
Investing in a call answering service means you can extend your opening hours – including adding weekend calls – without having to put the extra hours in yourself.
It means while you’re at home taking time away to recharge, your business is still taking bookings and dealing with customers.
Use telephone answering for lead generation
Generating qualified leads is absolutely essential if your business is going to grow.
But the process of qualifying leads and figuring out when it’s best to contact them – if at all – can be a lengthy process.
And if you’re passing cold leads, or none leads, to your sales team for them to qualify, it’s reducing the amount of time they can spend on actual leads and generating revenue.
A telephone answering service can help with the lead qualifying process.
You can hand them your lead qualifying framework and have your answering service go through the process with the caller.
If they qualify as a ‘hot lead’ you can have them passed over to sales to follow up with.
Others, who might need a bit more warming up, can be directed to the most relevant person to give them more information and keep your sales team’s time saved.
Get a single fixed business number
Flexible and remote working has created a problem for businesses when it comes to what to do with your business number.
If you don’t have a central office, do you need a business number?
There’s several reasons why you do.
First, having an official business number gives your company an authority you won’t get with a mobile number.
Plus, are you expecting staff to give out personal numbers for business?
Not many employees will be happy with it and the only way you could enforce a policy like that would be to invest in business phones.
The other option is to retain a business number and have your telephone answering service deal with calls coming through to that number.
All the calls will still be dealt with centrally, and your employees can have the necessary calls forwarded to them, without having to give out their personal number.
Save money on staff
Hiring a receptionist can be a costly expense.
At minimum you’re looking at £18,000 a year in basic salary, and that’s for a new receptionist with no experience.
Experienced receptionists can cost a lot more.
Plus all the added expenses like tax and pension contributions, and the admin.
And that’s all for a single member of staff to answer the phones.
When they do pick up the phone, they can’t deal with any more calls until they’ve finished with that one.
A telephone answering service means you save money on that member of staff, and allocate the additional savings to another member of staff, like a sales rep, who can contribute towards your business’ growth.
Be more productive
Despite having a strong economy and thriving business community, the UK lags behind when it comes to workplace productivity.
On average, labour productivity is 13% higher in the rest of the G7 countries when compared to Britain.
Part of improving employee productivity is removing unnecessary or time consuming tasks that could be better handled by someone else.
Telephone answering is a prime example.
It can take an employee roughly 30 minutes to concentrate on a task before they fully get into a flow and become productive.
Any break in that concentration and the clock will start again while they get back into the task.
In a busy and growing business, having employees stop what they’re doing to answer the phone every 20 minutes can constantly break that state of flow and mean they never become fully productive in the day.
Hiring a telephone answering service means employees can concentrate on important tasks and completing work, with only urgent calls directed to them.
By giving employees more space and time to concentrate you’ll see a marked increase in productivity and better results for your business.
Get rid of unwanted calls
Another problem with expecting employees to deal with calls, is they’ll end up dealing with nuisance calls or unwanted cold sales calls.
These types of calls are highly distracting and frustrating for any employee when they’re trying to concentrate on their work.
And if they’re constantly being hassled by sales calls, it increases the chances of them answering a real customer call in a frantic or annoyed manner.
A telephone answering service can remove this problem by screening sales calls and making sure they never get through to staff.
Your call service can also have you removed from any sales lists you don’t want to receive calls from, further reducing the number of nuisance sales calls you have to deal with during the day.
Invest in the right resources to grow your business
Telephone answering isn’t often seen as a key driver for business growth.
But it’s not just the reliable call answering that adds to your business’ success when you invest in a call answering service.
There’s also the costs and time savings you get by freeing up employees to concentrate on their work rather than answering the phone, as well as putting resources that would have gone into a full-time receptionist into another – revenue generating – part of the business.
Today, even the smallest edge can put you ahead of the competition.
Call answering could be just the thing you’re looking for.