7 Unexpected Benefits of Hiring an Answering Service
An answering service can do much more than take your calls. Your virtual receptionist can be responsible for scheduling, pulling permits, reminding your clients to pay, and many more duties. The broad skill set of an answering service, and the low cost, can benefit your business in many ways. Here are seven unexpected benefits of hiring an answering service.
1. Let them Handle Lead Collection
How much business are you missing out on because you’re not available when your potential customers are calling? It can be challenging to even get a metric for this number because most of the people who call you probably do not leave a message even to let you know why they were calling. Instead, they call your competition. You can use an answering service to capture that business and make more money. Your answering service can take your calls while you’re working, or they can take your calls 24/7. It’s wise to look at when you miss the most calls, or the most lucrative calls, and make sure you have coverage for those times.
Of course, lead collection isn’t just about taking the call. Your receptionist should be able to collect the information you need to serve your customers best.
2. Stop Doing Your Own Scheduling
What’s the point of having your answering service handle lead collection if you still need to get on the phone to handle the scheduling? Luckily, you don’t have to if you use a quality answering service with receptionists who can do the scheduling for you. If you want certain types of calls scheduled for certain times or days of the week, they should be able to accommodate that. They should also be able to schedule your work with your travel in mind so that you minimize travelling time between each call and save some money.
3. Save Money and Stay Flexible
For what they offer, an answering service will save you a ton of money. First, it may pay for itself simply by getting you the business that you were missing by missing calls. Second, an answering service is significantly cheaper than hiring a dedicated receptionist.
When you hire your own receptionist, you have to worry about:
- Hiring costs and training time
- Sick pay and benefits
- Vacation pay
- Hiring someone else to cover for the receptionists off time
- Hiring multiple receptionists if you want 24/7 coverage
An answering service saves you all this money, plus the time and hassle of having an additional employee. Plus, you can cancel with a quality answering service if you go through a challenging time financially. But you can’t just let go of an employee, at least not without worrying about how you’ve impacted their life. It’s better to stay agile and flexible with an answering service.
4. Start Offering Emergency Services
In order to offer emergency services, your business needs to be available 24/7. Even if most of your emergency calls would come in during the day, there’s always the possibility that someone will call during the night too. And few small businesses can afford to take calls in the middle of the night unless they use an answering service. Overall, an answering service will allow you to always be available in case someone has a critical problem, and your receptionist should be able to distinguish true emergency calls from those that can wait until the next day.
Another closely related benefit is that your business will appear to be more available when someone is answering your calls 24/7. That gives people the trust they need to feel they can reach out to you when they have an emergency or just a problem they want dealt with quickly.
5. Pull Permits and Make Appointments
Is pulling permits or making appointments with inspectors a big part of your work? It can be frustrating to deal with city officials, who have their own sense of time and often don’t care about how paperwork, delays and rescheduling impact your business. You can limit their effect on your business by having your virtual receptionist handle them for you. Most municipalities allow you to pull permits online or by phone. If not, the receptionist can always complete the paperwork ahead of time and email it to you before you head in. If you need to make appointments with other officials, subcontractors, or customers, your receptionist can handle that too and help you save time.
6. Call About Payments and Reminders
Are customers ready for you when you arrive? Do you have some customers that miss payments? You may spend a lot of time trying to remind customers and collect the money you’ve already earned, which can be highly frustrating. You can save time and potentially even get better results with your collection efforts if you use an answering service. Virtual receptionists can complete payment processing over the phone so that you don’t have to head over to your customer’s home. They can follow a pre-set schedule to remind people about their outstanding accounts so that the collections process is fully independent of you.
7. Change the Perception of Your Business
An answering service can make your business seem larger than it is. From a customer’s perspective, it seems that your business isn’t just you and your handful of employees but also support staff such as dedicated receptionists. Appearing to be a larger company can change the way that potential customers think of your business. You seem more profitable, larger, and more available. They may trust you to take on larger projects or see you as more trustworthy than your smaller competition.
Better Connect with Customers
You’re an expert at your line of work, not necessarily at customer service. A quality answering service will employ highly trained receptionists who can communicate well, diffuse conflict, and better connect with your customers. You may find that you have more loyal, happier customers as a result of how well they connect with your virtual receptionist, and that will benefit your business in the long run.