How to manage calls – business phone answering tips for SMEs
Posted in The virtual assistant blog
Getting a small business off the ground is hard, but arguably it gets tougher when you have to keep all the plates spinning by yourself. When you have orders to process, products or services to create and market, and an online presence to manage it can be easy to overlook that ringing phone.
Ensuring your phone is always answered is crucial to your business marketing strategy, as it is very often the first point of contact for your customers and clients. We have some phone answering tips that should prove useful for you.
Why is good call handling so essential?
First of all, it’s the easiest way for customers to contact you, and many people would rather deal with a friendly, knowledgeable person on the other end of the phone than email or use the website. Secondly, phone calls are the second line of customer service; good response times and friendly service can set you apart from the competition.
Customers that receive good service over the phone are more likely to recommend your services and to come back to you in the future. This is why it is key to ensure that any callers are treated with respect, are given quick service, and are made to feel that they are dealing with people who are capable of meeting their expectations.
Our first bit of advice would be to avoid relying on an answering machine. Getting through to a machine will subliminally communicate unfavourable perceptions about your organisation in your client’s mind. For example, it can make your company seem small and under-resourced. That might be somewhat true, but it’s not what you want a potential client to think! It might also raise concerns that if they choose to use your services, they will have ongoing problems getting hold of you when they need to. And, as most of us know first-hand as customers, nothing turns people away quicker than a labyrinth of answer machine menus or un-returned calls.
Should I hire a receptionist?
A professional receptionist certainly would know the correct phone answering procedure, but this is an expense that most SME’s won’t be able to cope with, or simply cannot justify.
So what’s the answer?
Well, you could consider outsourcing to a professional call answering service. You’re good at what you do, whether that be making art or fixing computers, so it makes sense that others hire you to provide this product or service. By that logic it makes equal sense to outsource to a phone answering company if you find that your calls are getting missed, neglected or being dealt with poorly. Here are five reasons why you should consider outsourcing your call answering;
1. It frees you and your staff up
If you’re a freelancer, or have just a couple of employees, answering calls takes up time that would be better spent running your business. A phone answering company can take on basic admin duties such as diary organisation, call-outs, and appointment booking, which leaves you to do what you do best.
Some companies go beyond offering simple phone answering solutions by offering more in-depth services such as order processing. It’s a good idea to look for a provider that offers this even if you don’t need it straight away, as it will give you scope to grow. The upside of having this service provided by a specialist partner is added security. You and your customers can rest easy in the knowledge that their financial details and other data are being handled securely. Furthermore, the ease of a call-to-order service really appeals to many people, and those who do not have regular internet access, giving your business a competitive edge.
3. More options, less expense
Phone answering services are capable of offering you more than you could otherwise afford. For example, increased responsiveness, or even call recording. Recording calls is harder to do on your own, and will often come at a premium, but there are plenty of call answering companies who will do this for you and give you the security of going back to double check the details of a call or order, should you need to.
4. Good brand image
The perception people have of your business is key. No matter how young your business is, it is important you present yourself professionally in order to convince people that you are the right business for the job. With a professional outsourced partner working on your behalf, not only will your clients perceive you as a larger, more credible organisation, but you can ensure that calls will always be answered, even at peak times. This is so important; did you know that approximately 80% of people won’t make another attempt to call you if they get a busy tone or the call goes unanswered? With this in mind, the most important thing you can do for your business is ensure each caller receives a personal, friendly response.
5. Grow without limitations
An outsourced call answering provider will take up the mundane, day-to-day tasks that would glue you to the office, forwarding messages and order details to you no matter where you are. Such phone answering solutions mean that you are always in touch with your customers, and that you have time to market, create and evolve without constraints, being secure in the knowledge that nothing is falling through the cracks.
We hope that you found these phone answering tips and advice useful, and if you’re short of time or resources when it comes to answering your own phones we hope you’ll keep us in mind. Our friendly team would be more than happy to give you more information about our business phone answering service. Feel free to call us on 0800 994 9016 or, alternatively, click here to request a free consultation.