Who is the gatekeeper at your organization? When your clients and customers call, who greets them on the phone? The reality is that the phone contact is the first impression your customers and clients get of your organization — and you want that impression to be as positive as possible. A professional, organized response on the phone shows your business can meet a caller’s needs and helps to establish your authority in your industry.
So how can you get that professional image, from the moment someone calls? Call answering services are the cost-effective and efficient solution. If you haven’t considered an auto attendant for your company, there are many call answering service advantages you’ll want to explore.
Call answering services with virtual receptionists present callers with a greeting and automated menu system, which then directs their call to the right individual or department. The benefits of call answering services are numerous. For example, with this type of automated service you can:
1. Realize real cost savings when compared with a live answering service.
One of our insurance customers at AccessDirect was spending $600/month on a live answering service, and he was not satisfied with the level of service. One of the most valuable and immediate virtual receptionist benefits our insurance client realized was that our small business answering service cost far less than their live answering service.
A call answering service also saves you money when compared with hiring a receptionist. The cost of seeking, hiring and training a new employee is about $4,000, and the average receptionist will cost $26,760 or more in salary — not including payroll taxes, benefits, bonuses, holidays, sick days or workers’ compensation coverage. Of course, no receptionist can remain at his or her desk 24/7, which means you may need to pay for a back-up system or answering service for when the receptionist is away.
With AccessDirect, however, you can get an answering service for as little as $19.95 per month — or as low as $27.95 per month if you need more than one extension. This is a fraction of the cost of hiring a new employee or working with a live answer service.
2. Always sound professional to customers and clients.
There are plenty of live answering services for small businesses, but how can you be sure these services offer exceptional professionalism? Even if you outsource or hire an in-house receptionist full-time at considerable expense, you don’t have full control over how they answer the phone. If a live receptionist is having a bad day or encounters a challenging situation, you cannot guarantee how your phones get answered.
We’ve spoken to one professor who called a respected university with a research question and after waiting multiple rings the phone was picked up by someone who was clearly out of breath. “Yeah? Who’s this?” the receptionist asked.
Don’t you deserve a little control over how your phone lines are answered?
If you have a professional practice, you don’t want someone answering your phones with “Yeah?” If you want full control of how your incoming calls are answered, a call answering service tailored for small businesses with a virtual receptionist is a great solution. You can record the outgoing message, ensuring it reflects the level of professionalism you demand.
Browse the Internet for call center horror stories, and you’ll find plenty of examples of bad live answering services. In the best of circumstances, the live personnel trained to answer calls aren’t invested in your business and don’t really understand what your company does. In the worst-case scenario, they may be underqualified and undertrained — and you may not realize the person taking your calls is making your organization look bad.
According to some reports, 48% of customers polled found customer service representatives answering calls at businesses to be unhelpful. Worse, only 31% of companies carefully monitor interactions between staff and clients. Even if you do train live receptionists as thoroughly as possible, can you guarantee they will be helpful each time? With automated menus, customers can get exactly where they need to for help from your team members.
3. Make your business sound more established.
Perhaps your company is in its growing phase. With the best answering services for small business, your callers receive a menu of options, from which they can reach each department. Even if each department is only one person or if you have a team of three, your business can seem much larger with automated menu options that give callers many choices.
4. Completely customize your menu and answering service.
With AccessDirect, you can customize your experience — and your callers’ experience. Record your main greeting, which can be updated regularly to reflect what’s happening in your company. Set up departments or menu options as you like. You can even have an urgent option that allows callers to reach you directly — even after hours. This ensures you never miss an important call.
5. Spend more time on what matters.
You have a business to run. You don’t want to spend hours picking up the phone and getting interrupted. With a virtual receptionist and a phone answering service, calls are answered and filtered virtually. Information mailboxes can answer frequently asked questions, freeing you up to handle more important matters.
6. Work effectively with remote teams.
About 37% of workers have telecommuted at least once and 9% of all workers telecommute at least half of every month. Remote work is becoming more popular and as more workers take part in remote teams, companies are able to take advantage of lower costs associated with work-at-home employees.
One of the challenges of telecommuting and freelancing, of course, is communication. If your office is located in Austin but a member of your team works in Chicago, how can you be sure one phone system works for both of you?
With AccessDirect, it’s not a problem. Callers can call one company number and get in touch with everyone on your team — no matter where everyone works. Even if your entire organization is virtual, each caller can simply select the department or individual they want to reach. The caller doesn’t know where each person in your company is and your entire company works as a whole. Calls are routed where they need to go automatically, so everyone picks up the calls they are responsible for.
7. Receive all your messages directly.
With a virtual receptionist, you can retrieve your messages instantly in multiple ways. You can get your voicemail sent to email and get voicemail transcription with AccessDirect, so you can get your message in a convenient format. You can easily scan your messages to differentiate between businesses wanting to sell you a product and leads interested in buying from you.
8. Make your calls more efficient by sending each call to the correct department.
Imagine you run a florist shop. How much time would you save by automatically having requests for delivery go to one voicemail, having requests for weddings directed to another and having pick-up orders sent to a third voicemail? It would save you hours of time, since you could easily focus on only those calls you want to prioritize at the given moment. No more wading through dozens of calls to find what you need — with a virtual receptionist and automated menus, you can set up your calls and organize them automatically any way you like.
Your staff can also all sound like they are all in the same building, creating a cohesive image — even if you work with freelancers from around the country.
9. Use the system without any added phone hardware.
You don’t need any equipment for an automated menu. The phone lines you have already are enough, meaning you save money. In fact, with AccessDirect you can get rid of that clunky answering machine and even keep your current phone number. Alternatively, you can switch to another local number or 800-number — it’s up to you.
10. Reduce waiting time for callers.
Callers trying to reach a live person sometimes have to wait. In fact, customers report waiting 10-20 minutes on hold each day when they call companies — which adds up to a whopping 13 hours a year. With an automated answering service, your customers don’t have to wait. They can choose the department or person they want to reach right away and can quickly leave a message so someone from your team can call them right back. This reduces frustration and ensures callers have their time honored. Since 78% of customers refuse to complete a transaction or buy due to poor customer service, providing speedy service is mission critical for your company.
11. Ensure you get your calls.
Missing a call can be disastrous, especially if you are working to secure new leads. You don’t want to miss a possible sale, and with virtual receptionists you don’t have to worry about human error mucking up the works. Each caller can easily leave a message, and the system automatically captures information about each caller.
Callers never have to listen to a ringing phone, long wait times or unanswered calls and you never have to be concerned about missed opportunities. With an answering service, all incoming calls are answered and your callers get through to a personalized and professional greeting immediately before they choose how they’d like to direct their own call.
For urgent and important calls, AccessDirect makes it easy to forward calls so you can answer them quickly. “Find me” and “Follow me” features make it easy for important calls to get through to you easily and without hassle.
12. Reduce distractions.
The average employee is interrupted 56 times per day and spends about 2 hours each day recovering from distractions. The average worker wastes 60 hours of time due to distractions per month. Phones can be a big culprit when it comes to workplace distractions and loss of productivity. With a phone answering service, you can set aside a specific time for answering phones and you can choose the time best suited to that work. When you’re toiling on a project or in meetings, the answering service can ensure clients and customers get directed to the right department or voicemail system.
13. Give callers control.
With a virtual receptionist and call service, customers get to choose how and where to direct their call. This reflects how customers want to interact with businesses. Studies show that 55% of customers prefer automated self-service.
14. Keep calls coming in, no matter what happens.
If your office needs to be closed for any reason (emergency, weather, power outage), the answering service keeps working. Even when the unexpected happens, your company is still “open for business” — or sounds that way to all callers — and you don’t have to worry about missing any calls.
15. Reduce managerial tasks.
Hiring a receptionist or hiring an answering service with a live receptionist is a lot management work. You need to train the live personnel answering the phone, monitor their work to ensure they are being professional and adjust their training as necessary. You will need to offer performance reviews and deal with any concerns or questions they have. If a service receptionist turns out not to be a good fit, you may need to arrange to hand them a pink slip.
With an answering service and virtual receptionist, you can avoid all these added managerial tasks. Once the answering service is set up to your liking, you won’t have to do more than update it once in a while as you see fit.
16. Enjoy flexible communications.
Call answering services are flexible and allow you to fulfill a number of functions. For example, you can use the service as an informational line, allowing callers to get details about your hours, offerings, directions and more. In addition, AccessDirect allows you to use your call answering service as a fax-to-email service (both outbound and inbound), and offers as an app to make mobile communication easier. From virtual fax services to an easy-to-use forwarding system that allows you to either pick up your phone when you’re available or let your phone ring through when you’re busy, AccessDirect makes it easy for you to work on your terms.
17. Secure services specific to your industry.
Call answering services are not a one-size-fits-all solution. At AccessDirect, we make sure to offer support and services for each of our clients to reflect the needs of their specific fields. If you run a medical clinic, for example, you may need to set up a simple system to let other doctor’s offices reach you, or you might want to use the system to make it easy for patients to schedule appointments. You might also want to provide urgent or after-hours information for patients calling after the clinic is closed.
If you are in charge of a place of worship, you may need to give your congregation information about upcoming events, services and donations. If you run a small business, on the other hand, you may need multiple extensions, enabling calls to be routed to specific departments.
With AccessDirect, you can get all these services and more. AccessDirect works with companies across many fields, so we understand your industry and are always willing to listen to your needs so we can serve you better. If there’s something you need, just contact us and we’ll work to create a solution for you.
18. Keep a running list of calls and voice mail.
With AccessDirect, you have a record of all calls that come in to your account. Every incoming call is logged, regardless of whether the caller spoke with anyone or left a message. This makes it easy to see your business call traffic as a whole, and it also helps you with analytics.
Did you need to know how many incoming calls are going to sales? With AccessDirect, it’s easy to find out because the system lets you keep track of the calls heading to that department. Would you like to know the most frequently asked questions your clients and customers have? Just review the voicemail transcriptions of your calls for an instant snapshot of what’s on the minds of your callers. Imagine how useful this information might be when you’re updating your marketing materials or the FAQ page on your business website!
Since AccessDirect lets you access voice recordings and transcriptions, it’s easy to review who calls you, when they call and what their calls are about. This gives you powerful insight into your callers. You can use this information when creating service or product offerings, informational content and more. It can even shape how you set up your answering service.
For example, if you review your voicemail transcriptions and find that many callers contact you asking for directions to your offices, you can set up your voicemail to include a voice recording offering directions. You can also add directions on your website and social media accounts, making it easier for customers to find you. Customers and clients will appreciate seeing you are offering them information they need, and with the information automatically added in this way, your team will spend less time repeating the same material over the phone, freeing up their time for revenue-generating activities.
A call answering service with automated menus offers many advantages, especially for smaller businesses looking to save time and money. Quite simply, an answering service lets you offer the highest standard of customer service while also keeping you productive.
If you need call answering services for your business, contact AccessDirect or review our options. AccessDirect can have your new system up and running in less than 24 hours, ensuring you don’t miss another important call and don’t lose any more time at work. Our services start at just $19.95(/month), making them far more affordable than an in-person staff.
AccessDirect makes it easy for you to ensure your phone calls are answered professionally and effectively every time. No matter what time clients and customers contact you, they can be directed to the right phone number or department. Even when you’re on the go, our call forwarding features make it easy for calls to be transferred to your cell phone, so you never have to miss an important call.
Why not experience the AccessDirect difference today? Browse our call answering solutions and learn more about the options that best suit your business. Or, contact AccessDirect now to find out how we can help you succeed!