6 Ways an Answering Service Can Help Scale Your Small Business
Competitive Business Landscape
More businesses were launched last year than in any previous year. For small businesses and entrepreneurs, the competition is steeper than ever. This requires organizations to differentiate themselves by developing unique messaging, creating distinct products and services, delivering unparalleled service and support, and leveraging innovative technologies. The objective is to drive revenue while optimizing operational efficiencies for maximum impact.
The unfortunate reality is that many of the five-plus million businesses that were started this past year will fail. Research reveals that around 50% of businesses fail after five years, and about 70% do so after a decade. There are numerous reasons for this abysmal failure rate. Sometimes, the market need for the product or service doesn’t exist or simply isn’t big enough. In other instances, the business owner and team fail to execute in one or more business functions—marketing, sales, operations, customer service, human resources, and finance.
Phone Remains a Critical Communication Element for Many
Despite a proliferation of different communication channels and a healthy adoption of those by many (e.g., chat, text, etc.), voice remains a critical component for virtually every business. The latest Hiya State of the Call Report found that nearly 3 out of 10 businesses prefer voice over other channels. And for certain inquiries or problems, that rate goes up significantly. Thus, it makes sense that 65% of consumers indicate they called at least one business in the past month.
Small Businesses Cannot Scale Due to Missed Calls
Here is the problem for a small business or entrepreneur: answering all of these incoming calls can be a challenge. Handling all of these calls is exacerbated by an increase in spam and fraudulent calls since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the rates remain high even has the global economy reopens. Knowing which calls to answer and which ones not to answer is crucial. One outcome—though the data varies based on the research report—is that a number of calls are missed: between four and five calls per day, per one study. Unfortunately, customers and prospects that are unable to reach someone in their initial attempt are likely not to try again. 75% of them won’t even leave a voice mail, and around 85% won’t call back (they will call competitors instead). These missed calls translate into lost revenue and increased customer churn.
Hiring a full or part-time receptionist to answer incoming calls is cost-prohibitive for most small businesses and entrepreneurs. Assuming a qualified candidate can be found, the cost to do so is around $37,000 in many metropolitan areas. Instead, many businesses are turning to on-demand answering services. Many of the solutions are structured so that businesses only pay for services when they are rendered. Davinci Live Receptionists, for example, can be purchased in incremental blocks of calls answered. This enables a business to control its cost while ensuring that all of its incoming calls are answered.
How an Answering Service Can Help a Business to Scale
Regardless of a business’ location and size, an on-demand answering service can help it to scale. Following are some of the ways that an answering service can do so.
Fielding Incoming Calls
Calls from customers, partners, and prospects can become a big distraction. Urgency levels vary, and the calls often do not come at the most opportune moments. An answering service can field these incoming calls and push those that aren’t urgent into voice mail and route others that need real-time responses to the right person on the team.
Having the right virtual receptionist system like Davinci Auto Receptionist in place is a critical part of an answering service strategy. You should look for a service that includes capabilities such as voice mail to email and text. This gives voice mail in real time and enables you to respond to those calls using the communications channel that is available and most effective—email, text, or phone.
Fielding Incoming Emails and Texts
While voice is a preferred communication channel by some, a growing number of individuals and businesses prefer to use other modes of communication such as email, text, and live web chat. Just as an answering service can field incoming calls on demand, it also can do the same when it comes to email, text, and live web chat. Not every answering service has capabilities beyond voice (unlike Davinci Live Web Chat, for example), and thus it is important to evaluate your options carefully.
Calendar management and scheduling meeting is the last thing a small business or entrepreneur has time to do. For those businesses and entrepreneurs with customers, partners, and employees scattered across multiple time zones, calendaring can spiral out of control. An answering service can assume that responsibility, enabling you to focus on running your business rather than managing your calendar.
Providing Customer Service and Order Processing
Customers become very frustrated, very quickly, when they call for support and seek to place an order and are unable to do so. Pushing them to voice mail or putting them on hold can create frustration—turning a happy customer into a detractor. Simply put, customers want real-time responses over the communication channel they prefer. Further, they expect businesses to give them the ability to transfer seamlessly between those channels.
Making Outbound Calls, Emails, and Texts
An answering service should be more than just incoming calls. Services like Davinci Live Receptionists give businesses and entrepreneurs the ability to place calls and send emails and texts. The purpose of these can be for different reasons: confirming meeting times, rearranging schedules, ordering supplies, making or changing reservations, and placing orders.
Collecting Customer Feedback
That extra call from a business can make all of the difference for customer. This confirmation call can collect customer feedback such as next steps following an important meeting, recommendations on product features, or confirmation that a support issue was resolved.
Selecting the Right Answering Service
Not every answering service is the same. As a result, a small business or entrepreneur needs to carefully evaluate solution options before settling on one. Things you should consider include:
• Ratings on review sites like Trust Pilot
• Breadth of answering service capabilities (incoming, outbound, administrative support, etc.)
• Communication channels support (phone, text, email, live web chat)
• Size and experience of the team
• Flexibility of pricing options to allow your business to scale over time