The concept of “business hours” is changing. It used to be nine-to-five — now it’s pretty much whenever the Earth is orbiting the Sun. More people are getting connected and staying connected than ever before in human history, and that means that any business that wants to compete needs to be open 24/7. And with over 90% of Americans within reach of their mobile device all the time, your telephone answering service needs to be up to snuff.
“I don’t need a phone answering service. I’ve already got voicemail.”
Of course you have voicemail. Everyone has voicemail. Your great grandmother has voicemail. And you know what else? Four out of five customers will simply hang up on you if your phone system sends them to voicemail. Your customers (and your potential customers) want to know that concerns are important, and voicemail just doesn’t convey that. Voicemail says “We’re too busy to waste time talking to you.” And you might very well be busy. But voicemail is poor customer service, and if great customer service isn’t at the top of your priority list, you might want to rethink your career choice.
“We’ve got a great automated system to handle that kind of thing.”
Well, it’s a step up from voicemail at least, but it’s still not great. Customers are looking for an actual person to handle their problem, not some labyrinthine mess of menus and hit-or-miss voice recognition software. Any customer that has taken the time to call your business is looking for a quick solution — because chances are good they’re carving out time during their own busy day to get in touch with you.
“We can just have our staff answer calls as well as do their main jobs.”
Not if you want your staff to continue to do their “main” jobs well. Not everyone is a great customer service rep, and forcing them to try would do far more harm than good in the long run. Companies in the United States annually lose over $40 billion because of poor customer service experiences, so unless you’re putting your absolute best foot forward, it’s best to let Harriet in Accounts Payable keep doing the job she was trained to do — she’s not much of a people person anyway.
“Okay, okay, I’m sold. But we’ll just hire a dedicated in-house person to handle all the calls.”
Glad you’re on board, but let’s think this through. You allocate funds to hire a full-time customer service rep to handle incoming calls. But what happens when they go home at night? Are you missing out on any overseas opportunities? What about late-night emergency calls right down the block? Can you afford to have that in-house person be on-call for every contingency? Of course you can’t.
Professional telephone answering services are available all day, every day. They handle customer complaints, process orders, schedule appointments, answer questions… basically everything you’d ever possibly need done over the phone. And they do it for far less than it would cost you to hire your own in-house team. You set the parameters, you provide the scripts and the training, and in return you and your employees get to focus on doing what you do best — taking care of business. Helpful sites.