The holidays are one of the busiest times of the year for a small business, no doubt. You’ll have to consider how you’ll handle increased customer service demands as business increases. Do you have a plan in place to handle the holiday rush? Who will answer late-night calls? Can you provide a contact point for customers? When customers need to check up on purchases, who will answer? What about when they have questions about your products?
If you don’t have a plan in place, it’s time to formulate one.
Handle the Holiday Rush While Protecting Your Bottom Line
Big retailers meet increased customer demand during the holidays by hiring seasonal staff. Unfortunately, hiring more staff just isn’t feasible for most small businesses. It doesn’t fit in the budget, and you likely don’t have the time to train new associates. Thankfully, there is an answer to handle the holiday rush: a telephone answering service.
Answering services field calls, interface with customers, and add valuable manpower to your business without the costs associated with hiring full-time employees. If you’re looking for a way to handle the holiday rush without getting overwhelmed, such a service just might be the perfect choice.
Here are five key ways that an answering service can help your small business make it through the holiday rush.
Handling Call Overflow
A record number of customers are frequenting your website during the holidays. They’re considering buying your product or services as gifts for their friends and family. That’s great news for sales! Unfortunately, a record number of site or store visitors also means more customers with questions, and more reliance on the knowledge of you and your staff.
If customers have problems with an order or need to ask questions about your products, you should answer quickly. After all, fast resolution times are essential to satisfaction. Without outside help, it can be impossible to handle customer inquiries in a timely fashion. When someone is dissatisfied with the quickness of your response time, they’re unhappy with the service they have received.
These days, small flubs like that can result in negative reviews of your business online. Instead of losing one customer, you could be losing many potential customers who search for your business online. You’ll want to hire an live answering service if you want to eliminate call overflow. Virtual receptionists can efficiently answer every call that comes into your business, no matter the time of day. Customers won’t have to deal with busy lines or abandon their orders because no one can take their call.
Routing Calls Efficiently
Of course it’s important to answer every call that comes into your business. But, not all calls are equal in importance. An answering service employs highly trained virtual receptionists who can provide an essential means of ranking the importance of incoming calls. After determining the importance, they can route them to the correct department. Your shipping department won’t have to take calls about product specifications. Your customer service rep won’t have to answer questions about shipping issues. Everyone can focus on their own department and their own specialty. Things are more efficient that way.
Efficiently routing calls is a great way to improve response time and impress customers. When you hire an answering service, you get to detail what types of calls should be routed to a given individual or department in your business. That saves you time, ensures that your employees can focus on their jobs and improves overall customer satisfaction too. Think of it as triage for incoming calls.
Eliminating Office Closures
Every hour that your office is closed can translate to lost business. Still, you have to close the doors every now and again, right? You and your employees can rest! When you use an answering service, though, your customers don’t have to be affected by office closures. Instead of getting a recorded message when they call your business, they’ll be able to talk to a live customer service rep who can answer their questions, help with orders and arrange a daytime callback if necessary.
One of the chief advantages of answering services is that they’re accustomed to working all hours. You might go home to rest at night, but such services have employees on staff around the clock. You’ll get all the benefits of being open 24 hours a day without the drawbacks of having to hire and supervise staff during the middle of the night. Of course, all-hours answering services do more than just cater to night owls. They also eliminate hassles for customers who are calling from outside your local time zone.
Timely Appointment Scheduling
If you run a service-oriented business, there’s likely a high demand for technicians or office appointments during the holiday season. Handling and scheduling calls can eat up a lot of time and put a serious drag on business operations. With an answering service, you can eliminate scheduling delays and snafus. You’ll let the service know how you schedule appointments and they’ll be able to immediately respond to customer scheduling inquiries.
Timely appointment scheduling is particularly important if you run an enterprise that provides emergency home or business services. An answering service eliminates the need to hire around-the-clock staff. If you usually answer late-night calls yourself, an answering service can also give you a much needed break to spend time with your friends and family during the holiday season.
A Real Touch Point for Customers
Every business owner knows that excellent customer service is essential to enterprise success. When customers call your business, they don’t want to talk to a robot or leave a message on an answering machine. They want to interact with a real, live person.
Providing a human touchpoint for your customers is perhaps the most important thing an answering service does. Instead of dealing with an impersonal automated system during the already-stressful holiday season, your customers will get to talk to someone who can truly understand their needs. When it comes to increasing customer satisfaction and driving up your bottom line, nothing is better than that.
Apply this to your small business
The Holidays are stressful enough in your personal life. Consider ways that you can lighten the load for your small business this time of year, like hiring an answering service. Consider it a gift to yourself and the people who love you.
Now, give this a try:
Contact a call answering service to reap the benefits sooner, rather than later!