Answering machines and voicemail are so 2005! There’s really no smart reason to use either in this day and age.
Why, you ask?
Modern customers want to speak to an actual human being when they call a business. Machines are very informal, and usually leave callers wondering when, or if they can expect to hear back from you.
Not to mention, your answering machine can’t get in touch with you when someone calls with a serious problem or other business “fire” that needs to be dealt with on your end immediately.
Here are some critical reasons you need to consider a live phone answering service ASAP:
You can’t be available 24/7 (but your customers expect you to be!)
Things happen all the time that take you and your team away from the phone. If you’re not on another call, there’s downtime, eating, sleeping, and even going to the bathroom to consider, right?
When using a service, a live person can take your calls when you’re not available, transcribe messages, and send them to your device of choice. This way, callers feel like they’ve been acknowledged, and are far more likely to patiently wait to hear back.
Eighty percent of business happens over the phone
Approximately eighty-five percent of callers who don’t get their calls answered will NOT call back. Any business that’s successful should know the customer lifetime value (CLV) of the consumers they do business with. How much is each of your customers worth? It should then be obvious how much each missed call costs you.
Even if your CLV is only $100, how many times a day is it acceptable to flush $100 down the toilet? Fact is, most prospects won’t call you back — they’ll call the next business who offers what they’re looking for. Why? Because human beings are impatient and want what they want, when they want it.
Managing and training phone staff is a constant struggle
Drama is a constant when dealing with phone answering issues, even for the smallest of businesses. Companies, big and small, constantly have to refine how they answer calls, and how they document and forward messages to the appropriate staff member. Let’s face it, customers are demanding; meaning you, the business owner needs to keep on top of your front-line staff to be successful.
A live phone answering service specializes in one thing: Answering phones. While they may benefit from your feedback, as needed, the staff they employ are trained by call-handling professionals. Calls are screened and evaluated, and issues are corrected on their end, leaving you to run your business.
You don’t need to recruit people to man phones as you grow
When a small business starts out, often the founders handle all calls coming in. However, we’ve all dealt with those days when it’s flat impossible to get to each caller without placing them on hold or sending them to voicemail. Remember, eighty-five percent won’t leave a message or call back!
A call answering service has one key function: Answering phones and taking messages. A service employs several call-handling professionals, and can easily scale to handle however many calls coming into the business at any given time. They’ll typically be able to offer value-added services such as virtual reception, appointment setting, inbound sales, and other call-center-type services too.
Live call answering services jump into action immediately
To rehash a point already mentioned: It’s hard to adapt on-the-fly when calls start coming in hard and fast. If you have to leave the office for the day, it’s rare to have the ability to call someone and ask them to answer your calls and take messages for you on short notice.
A call answering service can start taking your calls the day you sign up for the service. They can take all your calls, or jump into action when things come up that prevent you from answering your phone. You can put them to work after you leave the office for the day and have messages forwarded to your device of choice.
Several live call answering services have already serviced your specific industry
This one goes back to the training woes that come with training front-line phone staff. If they don’t understand your industry, they won’t be able to relate to customers effectively, which can hurt your brand and make prospects disappear into thin air.
Professional and established live call answering services are very diverse. They employ management and staff that understand multiple industries, who’re experienced at familiarizing themselves with the important details quickly.
This equates to more personable service to your customers and partners, and more appropriately detailed messages, too.
Call logs, call screening, and call recordings improve all processes
No SME has the time or resources to record and screen all their calls. Call logs (Ie., documenting the call in writing) are very rare, and usually poorly done when they are completed by busy staff. This can become a real problem in any number of situations, including when a dispute comes up where the caller and person who took the call disagree on what was said during an exchange.
Phone answering services know that “he said/she said” isn’t good for their business model. All calls are meticulously logged and recorded, and their management staff randomly listen in or screen live calls regularly to ensure each call is handled perfectly. When you need to verify what was said on a call yourself, all that information is made available on request.
Protip: Never hire a live call answering service without vetting them first
Phone calls are the lifeblood keeping your business in the profit zone. If you’ve decided you require this kind of service, don’t take the plunge right away! Take a step back and spend a few days looking into the call answering services you’re considering.
It’s important to do plenty of Google research first. Non-biased forums such as Reddit and review sites like BBB.org and ConsumerAffairs.com can offer plenty of insight into the quality of service a given business truly offers. Check out Google Reviews and run lots of searches on Facebook and Twitter, too.
A live call answering service is among the best investments you can make into the future of your business. Do yourself a favour: Don’t leave the door open to have another call missed, or screwed up by a poorly-trained staff member ever again!