10 signs your business needs a telephone answering service
It’s incredibly exciting starting your own business. You get to become your own boss, set your own hours and explore your passions. It’s a truly thrilling experience. But these new-found freedoms come hand-in-hand with a few new responsibilities, too and to make your new enterprise a genuine success, you’ll need to put in a lot of hard work. Unfortunately, sometimes small business owners end up putting in a little too much hard work.
Burnout is a real problem amongst UK start-up founders, and it’s not hard to see why.
Entrepreneurs have so much passion and such a vested interest in their company’s success that they often find it difficult to accept the help of others. But if you want your business to succeed, you’ve got to come to terms with the fact that you can’t always do it all on your own. There will be times when you’ll need to delegate tasks and outsource work to preserve your own sanity and one of the easiest and most affordable places to start is by investing in a professional telephone answering service.
But how exactly could your business benefit from a telephone answering service? More importantly, how do you actually know when it’s time to get in touch with a telephone answering service provider and enquire about their offerings? To help guide you, here are the top ten signs your business needs a telephone answering service.
1. Your business is growing fast
It’s pretty easy running a tight ship when you’ve only got a few customers to take care of. But to provide a quality service for everyone that will keep all of those customers coming back for more, you’ve also got to ensure that every single process associated with the delivery of products and services is totally seamless at all times. One simple process that tends to fall through the cracks when a business is growing is answering phones and dealing with important messages.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult for one person or a very small team to give telephone answering the attention it actually deserves and not all small businesses can justify the expense of hiring a full-time receptionist.
By hiring the services of a telephone answering service provider, you’ll benefit from constant reception service to guarantee that no calls or messages go unhandled. This frees up your time to focus on other aspects of your business that are growing, while resting easy in the knowledge that your calls are being taken care of at all times.
2. You’re giving out your private number to customers
As a small business owner, you may find in some situations that you’ve got no choice but to hand out your mobile number to clients. But if you do this too often or are overly reliant on your private mobile as a means of running your business, your privacy and your professional reputation could take a big hit.
After all, by conducting your business from a mobile, you’re sending a message to prospective clients that you’re running a small and unestablished business. That might end up scaring away business. Meanwhile, by handing out your private number you’ll diminish an important barrier between your working life and your private life. By taking on a professional phone answering service, you can benefit from a more prominent and established landline that will bolster your reputation and safeguard your personal information.
3. You’re answering calls in your free time
Even if you’ve got a business landline handy, you shouldn’t have to be chained to it and although you’ve got a lot of responsibilities as a company owner, that doesn’t mean you should have to sacrifice all of your free time to take messages.
That’s why if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the volume of phone calls you’re getting and it’s seeping into your personal time, it may be time to invest in a professional telephone answering service. By taking on an affordable package from an established provider, you can kick your feet up and relax without needing to fret over missed calls.
After all, just because you’ve got a business to be responsible for does not mean you forgo your responsibilities to yourself. To succeed in the long run, you’ve got to set time aside for yourself to focus on doing what you enjoy and getting some well-deserved rest to preserve your health both mental and physical.
4. You can’t find good help
Even if you have got enough budget allocated to hire a full-time receptionist, sometimes you may not be able to find the person you’re looking for to take that role on. Various towns, cities and markets play home to different talent pools, and so you can’t always take it for granted that you’ll be able to find a great receptionist right away.
That’s where a telephone answering service comes in. No matter where in the UK you’re based, you can expect professionally trained receptionists to be handling your calls and messages at all times. This can be an interim measure while you continue your hunt for in-house staff, or if you’re pleased with what you’re getting from your telephone answering provider, then you can save a whole lot of time and money by retaining those services.
5. Your business hours are holding you back
As previously mentioned, one of the most appealing aspects of starting your own business is getting to select your own hours of work. But in choosing those hours, you can also end up running the risk of missing out on sales. You can’t be on the phone at all times, and you can’t get a decent break without unplugging. That’s where a telephone answering service comes in.
By investing in an affordable package with a reliable and professional services provider, you can let your customers and would-be clients know that you’ve got regular and unchanging business hours and you can subsequently breathe easy in knowing that no matter what hours you choose to keep, your business will keep on running without you.
6. Productivity is low
Do you feel like you and your team are wasting time answering silly phone calls? If your business has a high volume of incoming calls, it’s easy to get side tracked answering phones. Other tasks can then get swept under the rug, and productivity suffers big time. Fortunately for you and your business, that doesn’t have to be the case.
A phone answering service can prevent this productivity drain and turn things around. By taking on all of your company’s phone calls, your service provider will hand the gift of time back to your team boosting productivity and helping you to spend more time generating leads and making profits.
7. Your company is only online
Once upon a time, it was nigh impossible to try and run a successful business without an established brick-and-mortar presence. But in this day and age, it often takes little more than a great internet connection and strong ambition.
A huge proportion of UK companies are now run largely (if not entirely) online, and in many cases, this can be done incredibly effectively. As long as an online-only business model fits your company’s overall strategy, you can easily run a small business remotely.
That being said, there are elements of an online-only business that aren’t necessarily appealing to all of your customers. Some of them will want a number to phone, and some of them will want peace of mind they’re dealing with a reputable, established organisation.
A professional telephone answering service will give your online-only business a major image boost by letting customers know that your business has got links to the real’ world and it will also enable you to continue powering your business online without sacrificing your fledgling reputation.
8. Most of your calls are straightforward
Does your company take a lot of basic calls? Routine phone calls can be a major drain on your time and energy. Answering the same questions over and over again can decimate your productivity and drive you crazy. That’s why you may want to consider outsourcing your phone answering to a professional services provider.
Telephone answering services are a fantastic way to address a high volume of short, transactional phone calls to address simple and easy-to-answer questions. A professionally trained receptionist will be able to field all of these easy questions and follow through on any and all simple enquiries. Meanwhile, they’ll be able to connect you with more important calls that only you can handle. If you want to exhibit great customer service, you can’t afford to let a single call go even if it can be a real chore having to pick up and address simple and straightforward calls.
Similarly, a professional phone answering service can serve as a brilliant frontline defence against cold callers and unsolicited calls. At some point or another, this happens to all companies and it can be infuriating to pick up the phone hoping for a customer, only to be hit with an unrelated sales pitch. Your service provider will be able to filter out these calls, so you never get bothered with cold calls again.
9. You have multilingual clients
Have you got customers or clients whose first language isn’t English? Language barriers can be a huge problem for small business owners, and foreign language calls can often throw business owners off kilter. You may find yourself stumbling through a conversation and losing yourself a valuable customer which is why it pays to have a professional answering the phone in the first instance and serving as your receptionist.
Many telephone answering services employ bilingual receptionists specifically to intercept incoming foreign language calls, to make your clients and customers feel comfortable at all times. But even if your telephone answering services provider does not have a capacity to field foreign language phone calls, having a buffer to connect you with a multilingual client can help give you a chance to prepare for a call, to make the best possible impression.
10. Your budget is low
We’ve already covered the appeal of hiring a full-time receptionist, and for many companies it makes perfect sense. It might even make perfect sense for your company. But when you’re just starting out, budget can definitely be a huge barrier.
The National Living Wage in the UK is 7.83 per hour for adults who are aged 25 and over. That means if you wanted to hire a receptionist to work for your business full time during ordinary business hours, you would need to pay them a bare minimum of just over 293 per week, or 1,174.50 per month. That being said, chances are you won’t be able to find a talented and professional receptionist willing to work for that rate of pay they’ll want a considerable amount more.
You may be able to offer a higher salary to find the talented in-house staff you need. But if you can’t and you can’t yet afford trying to attract part-time staff with the budget you’ve got, then it makes sense to hire a professional telephone answering service and virtual office services provider to act as your full-time receptionist at an affordable price.
The bottom line
At the end of the day, telephone answering services aren’t for everyone. Your small business might be wandering along just fine without the assistance of a team of full-time, professional receptionists. But if your business is growing uncomfortably fast, you’re having to sacrifice your privacy by handing out your private number, or you’re spending chunks of your free time chained to your work phone, you might want to consider hiring professionals.
Likewise, if your budget is low, you cannot find the trained staff you need, or your business hours are preventing you from landing new sales or bigger accounts, then chances are it’s probably time to do some research on virtual office providers to find an affordable and professional solution to your telephone answering woes.
Ready to get started?
Blue Square Offices provides a professional telephone reception service for a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time member of staff, letting our clients relax in the knowledge their calls are being handled by professionals at all times. For a monthly fee of just 19.99 excl VAT. You’ll be able to take advantage of a landline number of your choice, call answering in your business name, call forwarding, messages by email and SMS, voicemail and more.
So, what are you waiting for? Discover more about our telephone answering package
This blog was brought to you by Ewan Sutherland of Blue Square Offices - Scotland's Nr 1 Virtual Office Provider.