Many SMEs and start-ups have trouble keeping up with the volume of phone calls they receive during the day – especially when they’re growing. Unfortunately, failing to answer the phone in a professional and timely manner can have devastating effects on your company’s future prospects. With that in mind, we’re going to explore six key ways that your company could benefit from bringing a virtual receptionist on board.
1. Calls are always answered.
One of the most compelling benefits of hiring a virtual receptionist is simply the assurance that every call that your company receives is being fielded by a qualified, in-the-know representative.
Most small businesses simply cannot afford to hire round-the-clock employees to answer the phones. This becomes cost-prohibitive when you factor in training, benefits and the inevitable downtime when the phones are simply not ringing. With a virtual receptionist, you have someone standing by to answer the phone on your behalf (and in a tone that matches your company’s brand). They’re there when you need them – 24 hours a day.
Even during regular business hours, your team members are going to step out for lunch, bathroom breaks and holidays. Any of these make it less likely that every call is going to be answered. A reliable virtual receptionist, on the other hand, is always ready to handle increased traffic. You never know which a particular call is going to turn into a sale – and that’s why it’s best to have someone standing by to pick the phone up every single time it rings.
2. Your professional image is enhanced.
The brutal truth is that consistent delays in answering the telephone simply make your company look amateurish. For consumers, it’s easy to assume that you are simply understaffed – either because you don’t want to pay for extra employees or because you have trouble hanging on to staff. They seldom take time to consider the complexities of dealing with peak business hours, when any team could be forgiven for falling behind on phone calls. Outsourcing this task to a virtual receptionist gives your business a professional polish. The phone is answered promptly, politely and regardless of the day of the week or the time of the year. It shows your clients and target customers that you have your act together. Of course, part of maintaining this image requires dealing with answering services that can live up to your own high professional standards.
3. Your office productivity could increase.
In many cases, the people that end up answering the phone in the office of a typical small business are not necessarily full-time receptionists. They may even be at a higher pay grade, in which case their answering the phone is really a waste of company funds.
Not only that – incoming phone calls are a distraction to those who are not assigned to deal with them. Recovering from a distraction takes time. In fact, some studies indicate that simply returning to work from distracting circumstances consumes more than a quarter of the average employee’s workday. With that in mind, directing your incoming calls to a virtual receptionist could end up providing a substantial boost in productivity.
4. Your customers will enjoy reliable service on every call.
As we mentioned above, your team are trained in specific tasks. Even if a particular team member excels at customer service that is no guarantee that the telephone is their best mode of delivery. When you charter a virtual receptionist, you are bringing on a team of phone-based customer service experts. These people are meticulously trained and have extensive experience. Manning the phone lines is what they do on a full-time basis. Part of their training involves taking cues from you and your company. That means you can brief them regarding how you would like calls to be handled, and then rely on them to deliver exactly the type of service you asked for.
5. Calls are answered quickly.
Another problem with assigning your own team to man the lines is lag time. Small offices are busy places. During peak periods, it can impractical to expect your team to answer the phones promptly when orders are going out, customers are walking in and transactions are taking place.
Customers are impatient. They know that – if your team isn’t going to answer the phone – someone else’s will. With that in mind, a person with full intention of making a purchase may well hang up after a few rings and call the competition. With a virtual receptionist in your corner, you can rest assured that your company will be the one impatient customers end up calling when other companies can’t get to their call fast enough. It’s a strong competitive edge.
6. Save money on customer service
Perhaps the most startling reason to consider hiring a virtual receptionist to handle your incoming calls is that it’s almost certainly going to be cheaper than trying to delegate the task in-house. It may seem counter-intuitive at first, but hiring full-time (or even part-time) staff is a significant financial burden – especially when you factor in training and fringe benefits. Factor in downtime when the phones aren’t ringing, and could end up paying your receptionist to simply sit around during slow periods.
The firms that offer virtual receptionist services are sole devoted to the task of providing excellent customer service over the phone. They know precisely how many receptionists they need to hire in order to field all calls throughout the day. This means that you are essentially dividing the expense of hiring that person amongst other firms that charter their services as well. In so many words, you get full coverage at a fraction of the cost.
Conclusion: Better Service for Less
When seen in its proper perspective, it’s difficult to imagine why a company wouldn’t hire a virtual receptionist. With higher productivity rates, better customer service and less expense, it seems like a foregone conclusion that this is the way to go. The good news is that many of your competitors are not taking advantage of this service. By chartering a virtual receptionist, you could end up boosting your company image, increasing its output and even reducing its overhead expenses. Your competitors won’t be able to keep up.