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Measuring the Business Value of a Live Receptionist

In an ever-increasing competitive landscape, measuring the business value of any endeavor is vital. From marketing to technology to personnel, companies large and small need to understand the business value each project or capital expense ultimately delivers.

If it’s not working, after all, why keep doing it? Or, by contrast, if you aren’t doing the work that brings the most value to your organization because you are in the weeds with administrative tasks, including answering the phones, why not delegate it? When it comes to staying on top of the phones, a virtual receptionist can eliminate that frustration and add measurable business value to your operation.

“We don't have enough staff to man the phones during business hours,” says David Waring, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Fit Small Business. “So the primary advantage to having a virtual receptionist is that having a live person answer the phone is much more professional than sending calls to voicemail during business hours.”

With that in mind, there are several key ways live receptionists provide measureable business value to your firm:

1. Calls are answered promptly during business hours.

With a virtual assistant, if you are in a meeting, out to lunch, or at a doctor’s appointment, you won’t miss a sales lead that could turn into a new client because your phone lines will always be answered. Market research firm Forrester reports that more than 65 percent of callers will not leave a message in a voice mail. Just one missed sales lead could mean thousands of dollars of lost income for your company.

2. You don’t have to hire a temp worker during employee vacations.

Hiring a temp service comes at a premium. You could pay twice as much as the going rate to bring in a temporary service to manage your phones, effectively doubling payroll during vacations, sick days or employment gaps.

3. Provide strong customer service.

Answering the phones is just good customer service. According to market research firm Gartner, 80 percent of a company’s future revenue will come from 20 percent of its existing customers. What’s more, Bain & Co. reports that a 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75 percent.

4. You can spend your time more wisely.

What’s your time worth? If your time is worth $100 an hour, or even $25 an hour, you are wasting valuable resources answering the phone. Think about it for a minute. How many times have you got stuck talking someone who wasted so much of your time that you missed another business opportunity or didn’t complete an important task—or had to stay late to do it?

5. Broadcast a more professional image.

Perception is reality most of the time. Answering your own general corporate line can give the appearance of a one-man operation—even if you are not a one-man operation. You want to present a professional image and that often means keeping up with appearances. Answering your own phone lines may feel like a personal touch, but it can send the wrong signal to clients that you don’t have anything better to do.

Of course, not just any live receptionist can get the job done. It’s vital that you choose a live receptionist firm that gets to know your business. In other words, you need to train live receptionists with the knowledge that they need to direct calls to the right people at the right time, take clear messages according to the guidelines that help you streamline communications, and otherwise understand the nuances of your business so they can be in synch with your company.

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Using Hosted Live Web Chat to Act, Look, and Compete Like a Big Business

The jury has met and reached a verdict: businesses that deliver personalized experiences and proactively engage visitors on their websites outperform their competitors. This is something that not only pertains to larger companies, but rather applies to businesses of virtually all shapes and sizes.

Simply having a website is no longer enough. Buyers and customers expect businesses to know their preferences and offer them unique digital experiences. This is important due to the rising costs of paid search and online advertising; businesses must offer visitors multiple engagement options. In addition, they need to proactively segment and engage buyers and customers who require virtual guidance and assistance.

Digital Engagement

While digital engagement can mean different things—from targeted content personalization, to chat, to messenger apps—live chat remains the predominant channel today.

Small businesses that offer digital guidance and support through live chat give visitors what they want, when they want it. More than half of online visitors prefer live chat over phone, and nearly half cite live chat as the most helpful website feature while they are in the midst of an online purchase decision.

Here, first impressions play a crucial role. Visitors form an opinion—positive or negative—of a brand within five seconds of visiting a website.

Having a state-of-the-art website is a critical starting point. To use the now famous line from the 2012 movie Jerry McGuire where Dorothy (played by Renee Zellweger) tells Jerry McGuire (played by Tom Cruise) that “You had me at hello,” businesses either have visitors at “hello” or they have likely lost them altogether. Put bluntly, if you don’t have a great website, you need to fix it (read our two-part blog post, “10 Things to Consider When Building and Optimizing Your Website,” for a checklist).

Assuming website visitors aren’t lost in the first five seconds, businesses have about 90 seconds (and the window continues to shrink) to engage with them. This is where live chat plays a critical role—and it is important for both buyers and customers.

Consider the typical buyer—both B2C and B2B. They are often 60 to 90 percent of the way through their journey by the time they engage directly with vendors. Instead, they spend their time researching options and talking to their peers. When they do get to your website, they are much more likely to purchase (versus bounce) and moreover return to it when live chat is available and humans are able to answer their questions.

Likewise, customers prefer live chat over other engagement channels when seeking assistance with a service-related issue or question. And when they cannot get prompt, accurate answers through traditional channels such as email and phone, they take their business elsewhere.

Hosted Live Chat

Many small businesses are likely nodding their heads in agreement. However, you might be concurrently shaking your heads “no” because you simply don’t have the resources to manage live chat. Outsourcing the work is one option, but conversations—digital, phone, or even email—with buyers and customers are core to nearly every business; tapping into the global pool of professionals through one of the freelance marketplaces isn’t a viable option.

When we launched Davinci Virtual more than a decade ago, we sought to deliver business capabilities that were previously inaccessible to small businesses. For the development of our Live Web Chat services, we elected to leverage the same technology—LiveEngage from LivePerson—which we initially honed on our own website. For the human element of our chat solution, we didn’t need to look very far. The team-based approach employed for our Live Receptionist services was a perfect model.

Dedicated Live Web Chat teams—typically comprised of four to five representatives—are assigned to a group of customers and serve as virtual extensions—and experts—of those customer teams. These teams work with each of their customers to configure solutions that meet their requirements. Then, leveraging the predictive intelligent capabilities in the LiveEngage technology, our representatives engage with the highest value visitors at optimal moments. This ensures that we engage with buyers who are most likely to purchase, and with customers who have genuine support questions and problems.

Admittedly, it is difficult for small businesses to compete as large businesses in today’s Digital Age. Technology can be both an enabler and an inhibiter. This is also further shown by our easy to set up solution that works on WordPress, static html, Magento and Shopify, just to name a few platforms.

This is where services like the ones we provide can make a big difference—helping small businesses to look, act, and compete like much larger companies. Live chat is a great place to start. Contact us today!

You can call us, email us, and of course chat with us.

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Premium vs. Business Live Receptionist Services [Infographic]

Davinci Virtual is proud to present an infographic guide to Live Receptionist Services for your business. Utilize this graphic to learn about premium vs. business live receptionist services and the benefits that each can offer you.

To share this infographic across social media use the image below.

Premium VS Business Live Receptionist Services

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Davinci just raised $1,100 for Wounded Warrior Project & Veterans

Each month at Davinci, all of our employees join forces to get behind and support a charity. Over the last two years, our November charity has been Wounded Warrior Project. Davinci has supported entrepreneur veterans by providing business solutions for over a decade now, so we definitely want to further show that we care about them on Veterans Day, by supporting an organization that helps not only veteran entrepreneurs, but all veterans that are returning home.

For the Wounded Warrior Project, we held a silent auction that featured gift baskets assembled by the different teams throughout our company. These assembled baskets had various themes, from all of the ingredients needed for a candle lit dinner with great wine, to throwing a party with included ingredients to ensure a great time. Our teams got super creative this year, as you can see from the pictures below.

 

Silent Auction Basket

Margaritaville Basket

Silent Auction Basket

Janet with the basket she won!

Silent Auction Basket

Jess with the basket she won!

Silent Auction Basket

Asia bidding on the baskets.

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SEO Benefits with a Virtual Office

Do virtual offices help your SEO efforts? Short answer, yes.

There are a lot of businesses in today’s world that have figured out that a good SEO strategy can pull in heavy benefits for their bottom line in the long run. By nature, all SEO efforts are in a way very cumulative, and most people get the difference between paid search and search engine optimization. So while a paid ad strategy gives instant and short term results (the results keep going as long as you are paying), search engine optimization is different in that you are always building upon it for a steady uptick in the long run. Things you do today will add to the tsunami wave that will grow two or three months from now and wash away your competition.

One proven strategy for businesses that want to rank better in a territory they don’t have presence in currently, or would like to expand and test the waters in another territory, is to set up a virtual office. This strategy has been successfully used by various professionals like lawyers, plumbers, consultants, and many others that could use extra local presence. Virtual offices are an affordable and practical solution when you are looking for a cheap way to boost your SEO performance in local search results. And with mobile searches growing, which are by nature usually local centric, you want to get this going as soon as possible to beat the other companies who will catch on later.

Just as with all search engine optimization, this is a strategy that needs to be executed efficiently and logically for it to give you the return you are looking for. As a search engine optimization specialist, I would like to give you some tips in order to start you off on the right path for getting that desired ranking.

Below I outline the things you need to do to make sure that it benefits you and your company or client. The main ideas are to look at the location you want to rank in, see current competition and start testing. Let us begin with the first strategy.

Are there any other businesses in your category at that address?

The main idea of using a virtual office with SEO is to have a location that will be unique to your business as much as possible. You want the office to be a second, third or tenth location that customers can find you at when looking online and you would preferably be the only business at that location. First step would be to look at the locations available. Davinci has over a thousand locations worldwide and in major cities; you can see all of our virtual office locations here.

When you find the location you are looking for, go to google.com/maps and zoom in over the city you are looking to rank in, possibly even the neighborhood. When you are in the city you are looking to get a virtual office in, do a search for your main keyword and see what comes up for competition. Pay attention to these competing businesses locations, especially the ones in the area you are looking to get your chosen virtual office in.

While you don’t want it to be crowded, if it is in an area where your customers are in, then having two to three competitors in the immediate area is still fine – you’ll just have to outrank them with other signals (reviews, categories and tags). If there are more than ten competing businesses on the same block, then the area might be too saturated, and you are late to the party. If you don’t think you can beat any that are dragging their feet with SEO, then my honest opinion is to look at another location.

Can you serve the customers in that area?

Second piece you should look at when choosing a virtual office location, is whether or not you can serve the customers in that geo. Everyone wants to rank everywhere, I’ve worked at SEO agencies where we had clients that tasked us with this, but unless it makes sense for you to, it will be a long uphill battle. If you can’t reasonably fulfill the needs of the customers in the area you want to rank in, it’s important to ask yourself if you want those customers in the first place.

The magic of a virtual office is that it gives you a mailing address wherever you want, but also know that customers will expect you to deliver with the same speed they would get from other businesses in that area. Now, the one thing that helps you with a Davinci Virtual Office, is that you are able to also schedule meetings in almost all of the virtual offices we have listed, as well as receive mail and packages. The rest will be up to you to figure out how fast you can get things moving, if speed is an issue in your industry.

Does the geo location in that city make sense?

You also need to ask yourself if the geographical location where the office is in will make sense for you to optimize for. Local ranking depends on the proximity you are in to the city of the population you are looking to target. It should be easier for you to rank if you have a virtual office in the same city you are looking to rank vs. three cities over.

Personally, I’ve seen businesses in competitive niches (plumbing) rank in the Salt Lake City local pack, and the business is 20-25 miles in a different city, but these results are not typical. It will all depend on your SEO knowledge, competition and other optimization strategies. When picking your location from Davinci, we will show offices that are within your chosen cities borders, but we also offer a map view so you get a better sense of where our different offices are map-wise.

Do you have a local phone number?

A local presence is not complete without having a local phone number. This might be easier to accomplish for businesses that are looking to use a virtual office for search engine optimization efforts in their home city, but if you are in a different state, or even a different area code, you should consider getting a number local to that location. Not only will it boost the trust consumers have in dialing it, seeing as it is a phone number in their area, but it will further send “local” signals to the search engines you are looking to accept you.

If you are already a local businesses, you should definitely get a second phone number, instead of using one number for all locations. Using the same number is somewhat acceptable, but we are looking to create a full-on separate location, and having a number unique to each office, helps show that the locations are fully different.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Davinci offers live virtual receptionist service, which is a great complimentary solution if you have one or even ten virtual locations. You get one free phone number and can get additional phone numbers for pretty cheap; and best of all is they can be toll free or local, but in this case you would want local. Plus, now you no longer have to answer multiple phone lines from all the potential customers that will be calling, just let us do it.

Use the address on your website

A big piece of your SEO strategy for the virtual office that takes little effort, but offers huge rewards, is using the address on your website. You want this address to be associated with your business and to get a boost from whatever your websites ranking power is, so use the new address and mark it up with the correct schema markup for locations.

Using the address on your website just sends further signals to search engines that you take this location seriously, that it is a location associated with your business and that it should be given the same serious consideration as your website.

Make sure to register your location with Google Local and get the postcard to verify your location

I’m using Google My Business (also known as Google Local) as one example, but you should also be using the equivalent Bing Places and maybe even consider the paid Yahoo Local Listings to maximize your use of the virtual office location across the web. The good thing with Davinci virtual offices is that you get your mail and packages forwarded, so when you get your card mailed to you by Google or any other listing directory, you will get that card forwarded to you. Most locations also offer scanning and forwarding through email, getting you your letters and documents even quicker.

When you register your business with the local database these providers have, you will get more options when it comes to optimizing for the categories and keywords you would like to rank for. Other benefits that come with registering might include – being able to update your information, adding a website associated with the business, getting call analytics, hours of operation, times of day people are searching for your location and just being listed there. This is another pretty important step to getting your local SEO optimized the right way.

Optimize the location for relevant keywords, but don’t go overboard and spam

Last little bit of advice when you set up a virtual office location for your SEO, is to not go overboard with optimization. If you are taking the location seriously, then use it kindly by being reasonable with categories, topics and keywords that you are trying to rank for in that geo. I would suggest starting off a little less aggressive on your new location so you can gauge what is working and what isn’t. Whatever you learn at the virtual location, you can definitely apply to your other location(s).

So there you have, some strategies to get you going with your coverage area expansion using virtual offices. SEO is not easy, and everything I’ve mentioned in this article should all be considered as tips from a practicing professional, but you won’t get anywhere without trying. If you have any questions, post them in the comments. If you have any virtual office questions, call us or start a chat session right now to connect with a Davinci associate.

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