It’s the new world of the ‘always-on’ society. Convenience has been elevated to an art form. You can buy almost anything online at any time, day or night. Workers are expected to be available way outside normal business hours. Consumer demand has seen the rise of the 24/7 pharmacy, the 24/7 gas station, the 24/7 diner, even the 24/7 shopping mall. Business is increasingly global, extending way beyond local borders and time zones.
In the 24/7 society, your customers will expect you to be always on, all the time.
If you aren’t, they will walk out the door and take their business with them. It’s not really very fair, though, is it? As a small business, you can’t possibly afford to spread yourself too thin. Keeping the lights on is enough of a daily concern, without having to worry about being there all night too. There’s likely even some periods during business hours that you struggle to cover the phones, let alone deal with after-hours calls.
But every call that you miss represents a missed opportunity for your business.
And yet there isn’t enough volume to devote internal staff hours to covering the phones. You will agree we have come to a conundrum. An impasse. A dead end.
But what if there was a way to get around all this?
A way of increasing your company’s real, live responsiveness to customers while DECREASING the amount of time your team spends answering calls? Sounds too good to be true, right? and yet it’s entirely possible.
It’s called a virtual receptionist, or small business answering service.
It involves real, live, warm human beings whose main aim in life is to provide insanely high levels of customer care to your customers.
The benefits to your business will be innumerable, but let’s go through a few :
1. Your business will avoid making the mistake that drives 75% of customer’s crazy
Want to drive your customers insane? Have a robot answer your calls. Not being able to talk to a real, live person was recently nominated as equal top customer service gripe by 1,000 American consumers interviewed in a recent survey (Equally as bad was receiving rude or condescending customer service. Enough said).
Here’s the deal:
A full THREE-QUARTERS of respondents rated this as highly annoying. If you’ve ever had to deal with a recorded call yourself, you’ll know why.
For starters, it seems like the company doesn’t value your call. Especially when they say that they appreciate your call, but that message is recorded anyhow. But then to add insult to injury, often the options don’t match your requirements.
Maybe, just maybe, you listen to the menu options twice before hanging up. But more often, you will ditch the call. The answer? Have a real, living, breathing person answer your call.
Note: This does not have to be you or someone on your team. It can, in fact, be someone who is hired purely and simply to answer your customers’ calls and address their needs.
These services exist. They are called virtual receptionist or telephone answering services, and they’re dying to take your call. No, really. They are.
2. You will never miss an incoming call from your customers. Ever.
It’s 4 am, it’s a medical emergency, who is your customer going to call? No, it’s not the Ghostbusters if that’s what you were thinking. But it might be your competitors.
Some calls are important. Some calls have desperation, urgency and anxiety dripping down the line. Are you going to let that call go to the machine? It may be the most important call of your customer’s life. When they call your company at 4am and get a real live human being instead of a dial tone (even if it is a live telephone answering service), you will be their hero. Like, forever.
This is how you get raving fans by the way. They will never forget you were there for them in their hour of need … never. And if it turns out to be critical enough to wake you up for, someone will do it, no sweat. But if not, you can rest assured in the knowledge that the call will be waiting for you to pick up and follow up with again once you are back in the saddle.
This means you and your team can focus on the things you do best (i.e. growing the business) while your virtual receptionists focus on what they do best – customer care.
Which leads us to the next benefit:
3. You can relax, knowing that your customers are being met with the utmost professionalism, courtesy, and respect.
Outsourcing some of your business to external providers necessarily involves a certain amount of in-house preparation. Nothing excessive mind you, but certainly the act of considering what your key business processes are and how they should be handled by an external agency may get your team questioning how well things are handled internally.
You wouldn’t think it, but the sheer necessity of your team having to explain why you do it the way you’ve always done it to someone on the outside … and coming up short as to why this is the ‘best way’ … may lead to some internal reflection and suggestions for improvement.
Of course, it may also result in some challenging of the status quo and probably some noses put out of joint … if that needs to happen, so be it. Challenging the status quo is an essential part of business growth.
There’s a certain element of fear in every new situation … but also lots of potential. The truth is: Great business is born from innovation, not stagnation.
If you’ve not considered a virtual reception service before, you may be pleasantly surprised by the wealth of benefits that await you. It may be tempting to do things the way you’ve always done them. But as the saying suggests, in doing so, you’ll get what you always got.
Isn’t it time to get something different?