Few small business owners would dispute the sentiment that “busy is good.” However, when faced with a growing number of incoming phone calls while having to also handle other business demands which may include producing products and services and dealing with customers face-to-face, high call volume can begin to feel more like a unwelcome disruption than a business benefit.
That’s no way to think about it!
Small businesses thrive on driving higher and higher demand for their goods and services. For many businesses, whether brick and mortar, virtual or sole proprietor, the ability to raise awareness and drive demand is critical to ongoing business success. Doing so, though, also often results in higher call volume. That’s a good thing; but growing numbers of calls can challenge small business owners, particularly sole proprietors who need to juggle a myriad of demands.
CHALLENGES SMALL BUSINESSES FACE IN HANDLING HIGH CALL VOLUMES
While small business owners obviously know that incoming calls are a good thing, unlike larger organizations, they may be particularly challenged to handle growing call volumes, especially if they are independent entrepreneurs or very small operations.
- They don’t have, and often can’t afford, staff dedicated to answering the phone
- Staff may often be involved in handling customer needs directly with little time to divert to handle incoming phone calls
- Small businesses generally can’t afford expensive phone systems to help with their overflow call handling needs
HIGH VOLUME FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IS DIFFERENT
For a small business the definition of “high” volume is relative. A lawn services operator working alone may consider just one or two calls a challenge when working on client lawns. The same issue is faced by a wide range of small business operators – from solo medical practitioners to attorneys, consultants and many more.
On the other end of the spectrum, small businesses engaged in selling products online, across a wide geography, may find themselves dealing with hundreds of incoming calls, and lacking adequate staff to handle the volume.
HOW TO MANAGE THOSE CALLS SO YOU CAN GET YOUR WORK DONE…
Many small business owners pride themselves on their ability to multitask. After all, running a business is all about being able to wear several hats at once. Too often, however, busy individuals mistake being distracted for being productive. Nowhere is this more obvious than when dealing with a high volume of incoming phone calls. Ultimately, how a small business handles high call volumes has a significant impact on its ongoing success. You may not realize it, but your phone habits can be a silent productivity killer that’s turning off potential sales.
You need a reasonably priced, reliable way to answer those incoming calls, so you can focus on your other business priorities—and your callers will thank you for it.
…AND YOUR CALLERS CAN GET THE SERVICE THEY NEED!
What does a good phone experience look like for a customer? The answer isn’t complicated. Ideally, an incoming caller should be able to get through immediately, without busy signals or a long wait on hold. After getting through, they should be routed to a knowledgeable staff member, who has the time and resources necessary to answer their questions thoroughly.
Clearly, a high volume of incoming calls is a major obstacle to achieving this. When you’re overrun with incoming calls, your team is stretched thin and incoming callers may be turned away. This not only costs you sales, but it can significantly reduce the productivity of your staff.
When callers can’t get the service, access or answers they need they, unfortunately for you, have other options. Fortunately, for you, there are solutions. An auto attendant solution from AccessDirect can help route incoming traffic more effectively, allowing you to provide a better experience for your customers without a major investment in additional staff or infrastructure. The system is fully virtual, allowing you to upgrade your current phone system without having to purchase expensive, in-house physical hardware. Plus, AccessDirect will set up and maintain the system for you, ensuring that you can focus on your callers instead of your phone system.
HOW ACCESSDIRECT CAN HELP YOU DEAL WITH OVERFLOW CALL HANDLING
We have a number of customizable options to meet your small business needs, including:
- Auto Attendant. An auto attendant is like an automated reception that makes sure your callers get routed to the right place quickly and efficiently. Auto attendants, also referred to as virtual receptionists, answer incoming calls with a professional greeting and offer callers a menu of options to choose from—by extension, department or name. We’ll help you set up your auto attendant to best meet your, and your callers’, needs.
- Information Boxes. Chances are you deal with a lot of very similar requests or questions from callers. Offering information boxes so they can automatically and easily get the information they need, without having to connect with a live agent, will save them time and reduce your call burden. And, they always have the option to dial O, or choose an extension, if they wish to speak with a person or specific department.
- Voicemail to Email with Voice Transcription. Offering callers the option to leave a message that you, or your staff, can respond to later is another good way to manage high call volume. With AccessDirect’s voicemail options, those calls won’t languish unattended—you can choose to have them sent to your voicemail box with SMS notification and/or email delivery. Your transcribed voicemail will come to you in the body of the email notification for quick review. You choose the method that best meets your needs and best ensures your callers get the service they demand.
- Find-Me/Follow-Me. Particularly for very small businesses, where owners and staff are frequently on the road, or off-site, the find-me/follow-me option offers a convenient and immediately customizable way to ensure that your calls go where you go.
Every business is different and has unique business needs. Whatever yours are, AccessDirect can help you find the right solutions to ensure exceptional service for your callers—however many there may be.
ADDITIONAL FUNCTIONALITY TO BOOST YOUR BRAND
AccessDirect is continually adding new and increasingly innovative options to meet small business needs. Our goal is to take the administrative burdens of phone system management off your plate, so you can get your work done. We’ll help you deal with some of those “little things” you may not have even considered:
- Professionally written and recorded greetings. What do callers hear when they call in to your business? We’ve helped hundreds of small business owners address their callers’ needs and have the background and experience to apply our knowledge and experience to your needs. We’ll help you design your menu, write and professionally record your outgoing greetings, at no cost! And, as your needs change, we’ll change along with you to update those greetings based on business and cyclical needs.
- Click to call. According to Pew Research¹, 95% of Americans now own a cellphone of some kind—77% own smartphones. Those smartphone owners are becoming increasingly likely to “click to call” a number after they’ve found a business on the web. When they do, we can help ensure they get routed to the right place or get quick access to your information boxes to get the answers they need.
Today’s consumers demand a combination of live and online support. Despite the proliferation of digital resources to gather information, it’s likely a certain segment of the consumer market will still want to connect with live people via phone. In fact, according to research by Forrester², 44% of online consumers say they want to have their questions answered by a live person.
SOME TERMS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Telephone terminology can get a bit (a lot!) complicated. We don’t want to bore you, but there are a few terms it can be helpful to understand:
- Cloud call center. You know how you can access services like Google Docs, or Salesforce or Quickbooks and others from your phone, computer or laptop without needing hardware or software on hand to do so? Cloud, or virtual, call centers work the same way. You get all of the functionality of a sophisticated virtual call center without the hardware or call center software needing to be onsite—or needing to be purchased by you! It’s in the cloud!
- Hosted and Virtual PBX. PBX stands for “private branch exchange.” It’s a way to efficiently manage the calls coming in and going out of your business. Each element or individual in your company will have its own private exchange for call handling. Actually, you can think of a PBX exchange in much the way you might think of an old-fashioned switchboard, without the personal operators!
- A hardware-based PBX is one that you would have on-site and that would use your internet connection or LAN (local area network); these require some IT knowledge and investment in equipment
- A virtual PBX, hosted PBX or cloud-based PBX, is what AccessDirect offers. It’s a more flexible system, hosted by us, that doesn’t require any technical expertise or investment on your part—other than our low service fees.
Managing high call volume has never been easier, or more economical, for even the smallest of businesses. Our options meet the needs of a wide range of businesses.
CALL MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS IN ACTION
Businesses in almost any industry can suffer from difficulties dealing with a lot of incoming calls, whether they have a staff of one or of hundreds. AccessDirect products can be tailored to help organizations of all types and sizes deal with a high volume of incoming calls in a way that maximizes their productivity without compromising the level of service they provide their clients. Our small business call handling solutions have helped many clients in the past in a wide variety of industries – from doctor’s offices to financial advisors to law firms and many more!
CASE STUDY 1: A BUSY RESTAURANT
It’s not surprising that a busy restaurant experiences a high volume of calls during the lunch and dinner rushes. For one eatery — which was famous for its lunch special — this became so extreme that it began to affect their productivity and profits. Staff members were stressed; long-time customers, wishing to make reservations, were faced with busy signals and unanswered calls. Think about the potential business lost!
AccessDirect learned that the majority of incoming calls were asking about the daily special. We set up a call forwarding system to take callers directly to a voice mailbox for a recording of the day’s offerings. Customers needing further assistance could leave a message and have their calls returned when service slowed down.
Now, the restaurant owner spends a few minutes each morning recording the special, rather than being tied up on the phone throughout the afternoon rush. Staffing costs decreased, the owner saved time and money, and diners once again received the level of friendly service they deserved.
CASE STUDY 2: THEMED PUB
Another restaurant client, this one with a themed pub that attracted both restaurant guests and tourists interested in the pub’s history and heritage, presented some additional unique challenges to keep up with heavy seasonal call volume, including call handling related to various seasonal events and specials.
The solution? An auto attendant offering options for common requests (like pub hours and directions) to “answers to ultimate questions of life, the universe and everything,” illustrating how virtual receptionist solutions can be designed to be brand supportive.
Today, a wide range of calls—including calls related to accounts receivable and accounts payable—are handled effectively and efficiently, leaving the pub’s owners to cater to their unique clientele.
CASE STUDY 3: A WEDDING EXPOSITION ORGANIZER
Sometimes high call volume is seasonal or episodic. For this client, the organizer if an annual wedding expo in New York City, the busy call period stretched on for weeks each year during the days leading up to the event. Working from a personal cell phone, this client found it impossible to keep up with vendor requests, which could often be more appropriately handled by assistants. Rather than asking vendors to call assistants directly, a potential burden for them, and one that suggested a less close connection with the client, AccessDirect was able to provide a workaround.
We ported the existing cell number to our cloud-based Auto Attendant software which routed incoming calls to the appropriate assistant. We also set the client up with a new, unlisted personal number which vendors wouldn’t have access to. This simple solution maintained continuity with vendors while freeing the client from the burden of constantly managing incoming calls.
CASE STUDY 4: AN AIRPORT SHUTTLE SERVICE
Imagine a busy airport shuttle service operating in a huge metro area that also happens to be the home to a major cruise line port and popular family tourist destinations. Missing a call, or not being able to answer it promptly can mean the immediate loss of a fare. Unfortunately, while drivers are on the road they’re not in a position to be staffing a switchboard!
AccessDirect worked with this client to set up an auto attendant based on the common questions the client typically received. Information boxes address customer needs without burdening staff or drivers—or resulting in lost business.
CASE STUDY 5: A NIGHTCLUB
Running a nightclub can be a lot of fun—but can also be loud, noisy and, if it’s a good one, very, very busy. Our client’s nightclub was a very busy one indeed, in a top tourist destination serving a bilingual population. High volume phone calls could range anywhere from requests for reservations, to bottle service, to common questions on a range of topics.
Working together, we came up with a customer-friendly solution offering the option of choosing various pathways to get the information needed, including options for Spanish speakers.
Today, phone traffic is more streamlined, so callers get the information they need quickly and conveniently, without having to wait.
LET ACCESSDIRECT PROVIDE A CUSTOMIZED SOLUTION FOR YOUR HIGH VOLUME PHONE CALL NEEDS
There are many ways to manage a high volume of incoming calls to your business through a virtual call center solution from AccessDirect. Unlike other phone service providers, AccessDirect will take the time to assess your needs and determine the best possible virtual phone system for you and your customers. We’ll work with you to create a customized solution that works best for you and your callers.
Ready to get started? Contact our team today for your free consultation.
- “Mobile Fact Sheet.” Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center. pewinternet.org. 5 Feb. 2018. Web. 11 May 2018.
- “Making Proactive Chat Work.” Forrester. Forrester Research, Inc. forrester.com. 4 June 2010. Web. 11 May 2018.