Are you wondering if you should use an answering service? I know many small business leaders are often faced with this question. In my professional opinion, absolutely! An answering service gives you back freedom and peace of mind. Before you make up your mind about whether or not you should use an answering service or not, please indulge me for 3 minutes. I know once you are done reading this article you will have an answer to your question, one way or another.
Quick Personal Story
Recently all the descendants of my grandparents gathered together for a camping trip. Their children, grand children, and great grand children were all there. We visited Stephen F Austin State Park and we all had a blast. To go on this trip, I took three days away from the office. Thankfully, I didn’t have to be worried because I knew that a team of professional virtual receptionists had me covered. I wouldn’t miss any important calls, and that was a relief. I used an answering service to put my mind at ease while on vacation and didn’t worry at all about losing business. Instead, I just had FUN!
Ok, you got me. My company is the answering service. Regardless, I utilized our answering services on this weekend. I can not imagine the opportunities and messages I would have missed. In those three days I was gone I received eight new phone leads! That is eight prospective clients I could have missed out on if their calls were not handled professionally. However, I had our Houston answering service team on stand by to take care of these calls for me.
Answering Service Alternatives
Only one of out of all of the prospective clients was already using an answering service. This tells me that when they are on vacation, celebrating holidays, or out of the office for the evening one of three things happens to their calls:
- The call rings, unanswered.
- The caller is sent to voice mail.
- The caller is forwarded to the business owner’s cell phone.
A call left ringing without an answer is never good. It’s absolutely the worst way to handle calls for your small business. I would never call a company that did not answer their phone more than once. How would I know that number is correct or if that company is still in business?
Never do this.
There are a plethora of other options, even if you wouldn’t like to to use an answering service. You should take advantage of these options even if your not in a position to afford the cost of a professional answering services. Because leaving a phone call unanswered is not the way to project a positive image of a company, whether you’re an accountant, a startup, or in any other industry.
Voicemail? In this day and age, who likes to leave or receive voicemail messages? Most people don’t. They are awkward, and take up the caller’s time and the time of the person being called. With all of the options at our fingertips for communicating, voicemail is second only the postman as far as least efficient, slowest form of communicating. And honestly, with two day shipping, someone may get the message sooner than that red badge next the phone icon on their smartphone.
What if the message is urgent? Would it just sit in your voicemail box, all weekend, until you were available? I’m sure you wouldn’t want any of your current or potential clients waiting that long. Their concerns could wait several days unanswered, or go completely unattended. What makes voicemail even worse is that all calls are treated equally. There is no way to tell which calls are urgent or which ones can wait. However, using voicemail will offer your small business a more professional image than not answering at all. If you are deciding between using a voicemail and nothing at all, go for voicemail. While I believe it to be lacking, many small businesses and professionals are perfectly happy with voice mail.
Answering on your Cell
Many small business utilize their cell phone for their after-hours calls. This is the best alternative to an answering service. However, there are many times that cell phone reception is poor. Other times, we are not in the best position to answer our business calls. During a hike, a restroom break, or in the middle of the night are some examples of these moments. You could be unprepared and not gather all the information from the call that you would need to process your client’s concerns.
While I was away our team processed the 8 potential client calls beautifully. Some of them were connected directly to me, when I was not preoccupied fishing or hiking through the forest. Messages were taken for the others, and I returned their call promptly when I was available. Plus our team immediately sent all 8 leads an email with a link to view pricing for our answering services on the website. We brought on 4 of those 8 clients to our service! I am so thankful I did not miss that opportunity.
Apply this to your small business
Consider what happens to your business calls when you are on vacation. What about during the upcoming holidays?
Nothing can represent your business better than professional receptionist. You can use Answering on Demand, for example when you are ready for bed, and answer calls directly your self the rest of the time. Or you can use an answering service, after hours and on weekends. Some people even choose to use an answering service 24/7 to ensure they never miss any calls. An answering service can always transfer a call back to your cell if it is urgent.[Revised & Updated in February 2017]