What Is An Answering Service For Small Businesses?
In a nutshell, an outsourced answering service for small businesses consists of a person who takes incoming calls and makes decisions around them to improve your company’s communication. You may also hear the terms virtual receptionist or live receptionist as synonyms. They are not your employee but a paid service, so you can avoid adding headcount.
According to the portal Business.com, “Virtual receptionist companies offer a variety of services that can improve your business’s ability to manage incoming calls from customers, adding a layer of professionalism to your consumer-facing communications.”
One study found that 73% of consumers skip the automatic phone tree and press “0” immediately to reach a human first. Another found 61% of mobile users call a business when they’re in the purchase phase of the buying cycle. What kind of experience are you providing them when they call?
How to Find an Answering Service
If you are starting to browse the market looking for the best communications provider to solve this need, you may have noticed several options available. Their service levels differ, and even the way they charge for their solution may vary significantly, making your search complicated and time-consuming.
The best approach is to analyze your company’s needs in-depth and learn industry standards. By comparing service offerings, pricing, and support among providers and how well they align with your needs, choosing a partner for your small business doesn’t have to be hard.
The process of setting up a top-rated answering service for your small business should be relatively straightforward. Full activation usually takes between 24 and 48 hours after completing a simple interview.
Once in place, your virtual receptionist will start answering all business-related incoming calls, taking messages, and forward them to other staff members as appropriate. Other capabilities could include using alerts via texts and emails, forwarding calls to voicemail, connecting to different extensions, forwarding calls to cellphones, and even scheduling appointments for clients and prospects.
Related: Create a Polished Image with Address, Conference Room & Phone Services
Reasons to Get Answering Services for your Small Business
You may have started your venture as a one-person show or with a small team. But after working hard to position yourself in the market, your operation has grown to a point where you just can’t handle it all.
Managing all of your businesses’ incoming calls consumes a large percentage of your time and can be distracting. Just to give you an idea, it takes 25 minutes to regain concentration after you have been interrupted. Soon, productivity suffers, and your company’s reputation may take a hit if calls aren’t answered and routed quickly.
This fast-growth scenario, where you need to present your company in the most professional manner but don’t necessarily have the bandwidth to juggle incoming calls with daily operations, is just one of the many reasons to get an answering service for your small business as soon as possible. Let’s briefly explore some additional ones.
Reason #1: Your staff has gone hybrid mode or remote indefinitely
As soon as the pandemic began, remote and hybrid work options became popular. However, many organizations will continue to use these measures even after the global situation improves.
Small business owners realize they will have to deal with a distributed workforce for some time, if not permanently. Therefore, they look for ways to implement technologies to connect all staff members among each other efficiently and other external parties.
If you choose a reputable small business answering service, you can redirect incoming calls to your employees remotely, regardless of their location. The receptionists will also assist in managing appointments and sending reminders to arrive at important meetings on time, without having to search for links, codes, and dial-in numbers. A live receptionist can also schedule meetings and appointments through each relevant calendar.
Your clients and prospects will be able to reach you through a single point of contact. Rather than getting moved around from extension to extension or experiencing long hold times, they will receive high-quality customer service and connect with the right person or voicemail, even if the person is not at a fixed physical location.
Reason #2: You are planning for a vacation
Small business owners, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and solopreneurs know they continue to work when they’re on vacation, primarily via email. They are attached to their laptops or smartphones, even when they are hoping to take time off.
If you are planning for a vacation these days, you may consider adding a reliable answering service for your small business to help you make the most of your well-deserved rest.
While you are away, your business will continue to run smoothly, with no missed calls, no clients left hanging, and no incorrectly scheduled appointments.
The live receptionist can also ensure urgent calls still make it your way. This qualified person will screen incoming calls and make sure all essential telephone calls are directed to the right team members, make and professionally complete each transfer.
Reason #3: Your business is entirely virtual
You don’t have to have a physical address nowadays, mainly if you are an e-commerce business.
By having a live receptionist service, virtual companies can ensure their customers receive professional human assistance as soon as they call. Remember: Some customers prefer to make a call to place an order, receive basic troubleshooting or special assistance, or even just to make sure your business is legitimate.
Having a live receptionist gives your business, however small, a professional feel. Your callers have no idea the receptionist is remote and isn’t sitting at the front desk of your office. To them, having their calls promptly answered by a real person puts your business in a more positive light, straight from the get-go.
Reason #4: Your company has more staff
Taking care of incoming calls for one or two people is not the same as doing it for ten or more employees. If your workforce has recently grown, partnering with an excellent answering service for your small business is an intelligent decision.
As explained above, a live receptionist service will make collaboration and coordination easier between departments. It will also help keep everybody’s time organized and aligned with business objectives.
Reason #5: You have international clients or other stakeholders
Suppose your company has clients or other partners abroad with significant time zone differences. In that case, a virtual receptionist can help you take care of their incoming calls despite time zone differences.
Reason #6: You need to improve your company’s image
Your small business may be now at a point when it needs to take its corporate identity to the next level. Appearing professional and reflecting leadership in the market requires upgraded call management.
Receiving incoming calls through a virtual business phone number, answered by a professional live receptionist, helps you do just that. Your brand perception will automatically improve when you stop giving them personal phone numbers for business issues. When they get live assistance to coordinate meetings, take messages, follow up on inquiries, among other tasks, they will get the sense that your business can be taken seriously.
Related: Types of Companies that Commonly Use Live Receptionist Services
What to Look For in the Best Answering Service for Small Businesses
At this point, you probably see your own situation in at least one of the scenarios explained above. Now, it is time to understand the criteria business communications leaders fulfill to provide you with the best answering service for your small business.
- No minimum company size: A top provider will offer a live answering service with the highest standards, flexibility, availability, and versatility, regardless of your company’s size.
- Different plans: You will have different plans to choose from and fit your business needs. Virtual receptionists could help you handle anything from a low volume of calls to high-traffic services, multiple extensions, appointment booking, and more.
- Qualified staff: Leading companies provide the service through US-based receptionists who will answer your calls and direct callers to where you want, such as a voicemail box or a different extension. A reputable live receptionist service will have skilled customer service staff to give your business a personal, professional touch at an affordable price.
- Schedule management: The best live receptionists can book appointments for you and any members of your staff straight from your shared calendars.
- More office hours: Look for a virtual receptionist service that will answer your business calls even after hours and on weekends.
- No setup fee, no contract, cancel anytime: A live receptionist service for entrepreneurs and other small businesses will offer flexible plans adapted to your unique needs.
- Large call center quality: Companies focused on small businesses will give you call center quality without the elevated enterprise cost. Your company will receive the benefits of a multi-line telephone system, so callers never get a busy signal. Live receptionists will make sure you don’t get robocalls, solicitors, or other spam calls.
Taking your business communications to the next level shouldn’t be complicated or cost a fortune. With Phone.com, you benefit from a large enterprise unified communications suite without the implementation hassles and large upfront investment. Choose any comprehensive plan to get SMS, email to text, video meetings, call routing, and more features, plus the flexibility to add premium services such as a live receptionist. Sign up now.