Wouldn’t it be great to have an extra set of hands available to help you manage your day to day tasks? Small business operators typically manage their operations with the fewest number of people needed to get the job done. They have to hold down costs because additional heads makes for a higher overhead. The greater the overhead, the lower the profits and with less room to maneuver, your small business can be in for the fight of its life.
One way to get the job done is to use contractors to fill in the gaps. Such people are used on an “as needed” basis and can be dismissed when not needed. Small businesses and even freelancers can make use of contractors, managing their overhead to fit their current needs.
Workplace distractions can keep you from finishing projects, meeting with customers and employees or handling other problems as they arise. One area of distraction is the telephone, but it also may be the tool you use to connect with your customers, process sales and handle customer service issues. Fortunately, an answering machine service provider can handle these tasks for you when you’re busy, on a business trip or taking a well-deserved vacation. Companies staffed by trained individuals can provide whatever services you need including the following.
1. Answering service – Basic services that many businesses need is simply to have someone to answer the phone. When calls come in they are routed to an answering service provider and messages are taken. You can retrieve your messages by visiting your dedicated email inbox.
When calls are received by the service provider, attendants answer in your company’s name. The individual will give her first name and thank the customer for calling.
2. Receptionist service – If simple phone message taking isn’t enough, you can look for a service that provides receptionist service. The difference here is typically, one individual will be assigned to your account and will answer your phones from afar in your name. This individual can take orders, answer basic customer service questions and handle other matters as needed. If the dedicated individual is not available, a backup will step in.
The impression that a receptionist service gives is one of cordiality and professionalism. Your customers may not know that the individual they speak with isn’t associated with your company and that is fine. You want a service provider to care as much about your customers as you do.
3. Paging service – What if you’re away and need to know when a certain customer calls you right away. This is where you’ll want your service provider to contact you via pager or cell phone to alert you that a message is waiting. Given that most business people are using smartphones, you can have a detailed text message appear on your phone. You can also call in for more information if needed.
With a paging service you set the parameters for when you should be contacted. If you are a physician, personnel will ask gauge the nature of the call and recommend that emergency services be contacted if there is a life-threatening emergency on hand. You’ll want a service that understands when you should be awakened at 2:30 in morning and when a message can wait until morning if there is no emergency.
4. Calling services – Maybe you need someone to handle inbound and outbound calling just like a call center. Well, there are service providers that can give you that too. Your service can be as simple as having customer inquiries passed to you or more comprehensive with remote services handling sales and customer complaints.
A call center service can help you fine tune your own system too. When you use such a provider you’ll learn how messages are taken, what action customers took and how the service responded to each call. This information will enable you to improve your own services, perhaps encouraging the answering service to upsell a product if customers are demanding more.
What you want with any answering service provider is flexibility and done so with cheerfulness. You’ll want a service that grows and changes with your needs, and one that doesn’t lock you into a long-term contract with no ability to make changes as needed. Ask for references from current users and call each one to gauge that company’s effectiveness in serving their needs.
HubPages: What Can a Virtual Receptionist Do? — http://receptionist.hubpages.com/hub/What-Can-a-Virtual-Receptionist-Do
How Stuff Works: How Answering Services Work — http://money.howstuffworks.com/business-communications/answering-services2.htm
Cassie Lummus is an independent writer for Answering Service United. She is an expert in call center outsourcing and services.