Why small businesses should value professional telephone call answering

Far from being just administration, calls are an important part of the marketing mix – a bad call reflects badly on the brand and can negatively impact upon the bottom line. 

According to our latest research, when consumers were asked, “What do you consider to be important about how a company deals with you over the phone”, the most popular response (70%) was ‘that I get a human voice and not a voicemail or an automated menu’. 

The importance of good telephone call answering goes much further. Our data also highlights that 70 per cent of people feel good telephone call answering shows that staff are capable and know how to do their jobs. 

The research also demonstrates the value of having a professional answer your telephone calls because they can handle difficult conversations.

When we asked ‘under what circumstances do you prefer to phone a business as a customer’, 70 per cent of customers responded by saying they call a business to make a complaint or resolve an issue. This was by far and away the top answer with aftersales support being the second most popular response with 59 per cent.

Clearly, if the majority of customers who call a business are angry or have an urgent problem then the call handling needs to be second to none.

There are other benefits too. Having someone to professionally answer telephone calls means that certain admin tasks can be taken off key members of staff, freeing them up for higher value jobs.

A virtual PA can field sales calls and divert important calls to the right places. They can field calls at peak times, act as overflow support when your phone is engaged or support a business through a crisis, when inbound calls tend to spike.

No small business can expect to answer all their calls 24/7, so business owners need help. Increasingly, calls are being made to businesses outside of conventional office hours so a telephone call answering support is a logical choice.

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Having a good PA can also help with effective data capture.  Accurate data capture can be essential to many businesses. For example, imagine being a building contractor that takes hundreds of maintenance calls a week from their client’s tenants. 

A good telephone answering service will take more than just the name and phone number. They can capture all the basics of the customer’s requirement, plus the details of the job, where it is, what time the tenant might be home. The call answerer can even divert the call if it is urgent so a job can be escalated.  Good data capture, means happy customers and more efficient teams, contributing to increased profit.

Setting up an external call answering service is easy. Firstly, a good call answering service will create a bespoke script to make sure calls are handled effectively. They will take key details about a business, e.g. details of regular customers, who at the business should be contacted and what to do with pesky sales calls. 

Once the script is put in place, a client simply diverts their number when desired all calls are then handled by a dedicated call answering agent.

Messages will be sent via email or even SMS. Urgent calls can be diverted to alternative numbers to ensure they are handled effectively.  

In a world of smart phones it’s easier to think that we’re always in touch.  However, what often gets left behind is the quality of that contact. When we’re busy or distracted with other tasks, having someone who can always take the time out to really listen to every call and deal with it immediately should be a high priority for SMEs.

David Joseph is a board executive at professional call answering service alldayPA, which has also recently launched alldayPA Legal a specific service for legal businesses.

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