“The only difference between success and failure is the ability to take action.” Do you know who said this? None other than Mr Alexander Graham Bell, yes, the inventor of the telephone.
We live in a world where people do not like to wait. It’s not that we are unable to delay gratification or that require everything now, now, NOW. It’s more that we live incredibly busy lives. Most people in the modern world run around trying to cram so much into their 24-hour day that when they have a need, it’s a need now.
With this in mind, how does your business handle customers who wake up at 3am wanting to schedule an appointment, or remember at 6pm they need to reorder? People who like things done immediately, who like to tick off their to-do list, also like to speak to someone and know that the job really is done.
This is one of the benefits of using a telephone answering service, and there is a nice explanation of the competitive advantages in using an external service found at https://www.directlineinc.com/hours-support/.
In-House Telephone Staff versus After Hours Answering Service
Some days you are rushed off your feet, some days you get time to catch up on that backlog of paperwork. This is the same for all aspects of your business – and you will see this 24hours a day. The advantage of hiring someone in-house who can answer your phones after 5pm is that you can, hopefully, train that person into taking on more rolls within the business so that they are able to fill in their time.
Although you are more likely to need 2 or more people, to allow for 8hour shifts, lunch breaks and illness.
The advantage of using an external after-hours answering service is that if your phone is ringing hot, they have a team of people so you won’t miss a call. However, if everything is quiet, you’re not paying staff to sit around creating busy work.
They don’t know my business
You are right. They don’t know your business like you do. But an answering service doesn’t need to. They have a script to follow, that makes sure your clients are asked the right questions so that not only do you get the information you need, but your customers know that they will have their needs met, just as if they’d been speaking to you yourself. Telephone services hire people who love customer service, who can communicate well, and who can look after your clients as you would.
It’s an emergency
If your business requires your clients to be able to get access to services immediately, your options are back to having someone on-call 24/7 (if you’re a small business owner, chances are high that person will be you), or you can consider an answering service.
Although each business is unique, there are certain scenarios that can be worked out without needing to contact you directly.
For example, a firm that manages property might have a tenant ring up with a burst water pipe. If you’re the person on-call you wake up, calm the tenant down, assure them you’ll have someone there to fix it asap. Then you need to try to find the details for your normal plumber, get hold of them, and get them to go fix the burst water pipe.
In this scenario you could easily have enjoyed a good 8 hours rest and woken up to an email from your telephone service detailing that they had despatched your preferred plumber to the tenant (and probably an email from a dry and happy tenant to say thank you).
Every Client is Unique
It is absolutely true; every client has unique wants and needs. But if you really think about the sorts of calls you get, they can all probably be broken down into several ‘types’. The emergency call, the sales call, the payment call, the booking call… in every industry your clients will mostly fit into a category, no matter how complex your needs. Once you’ve worked out what the general scenarios are your answering service can help you work out what the work flow should be in order to meet those needs.
It’s that time of year
Maybe you have a seasonal industry, from chimney sweeps to educational enrolments, some businesses really do have huge increases in call volumes at certain times of the year. This is when it really helps to have extra people who can make sure that you don’t miss calls and that your callers aren’t sitting on hold for hours.
No matter if you are a one-person show, or if your staff is in the hundreds, having a dedicated team who can make sure your customers calls are answered and responded to makes good business sense, and is something to investigate further.