A common complaint among small business owners is the battle to beat out the competition that exists in this day and age.
Since businesses open and close every year, estimates as to how many companies there are in the world are hard to make. Some experts place numbers well over 100,000,000 global businesses operating at any one time.
So how then is it possible to compete, even beat the competition operating in your industry?
There are a number of things a small business can do, but today I’m going to suggest setting your business up to be able to take more calls — immediately!
A 24/7 answer service can do just that, without the need to incur thousands of dollars a year in extra expenses.
Check out what a call answering service can do for your business:
Extended business hours mean fewer missed opportunities
How many hours a day can the typical business keep its literal or proverbial doors open? Most businesses start taking calls between 8 — 9 am in the time zone they operate in. Those same businesses rarely stay open after 6 pm in the evening. You and your physical employees only have so much gas in the tank, and the majority have families to spend time with, too.
Most businesses, product or service, or both, can benefit from extending their hours of availability to take calls. Many call answering companies will offer comprehensive customer services such as sales and support, meaning your business grows faster by making sure no call goes unanswered, as detailed further down the page.
Extended reach outside your original area of operations
You don’t necessarily need to be in the office to land customers. Offering great customer service can bring more business in, simply by making a good impression on prospects when they call. Even if you need to be the one making the sale, the initial impression made by a well-trained and mannered agent can go a long way toward buttering them up for an eventual sale.
A virtual receptionist can accomplish this feat quite easily by answering the phone in a professional manner, listening carefully to what people are telling them, and assuring the prospect their call will be returned by a sales rep ASAP. Don’t think your brick-and-mortar is exempt — why aren’t you offering your product online? Some professionals offer extended services such as sales (order taking) and support.
Save money on staff
Consider the cost of hiring a single receptionist for your business. It’s somewhere in the neighborhood of $60,000 plus per year ($30,000 in salary, plus benefits and government tax obligations. This puts you at a disadvantage over the competition if profits aren’t coming in fast and furious just yet.
Even for an established business, that’s a lot of money! Virtual receptionists and other virtual customer service professionals cost a fraction of that. What this means for your business is faster growth and the ability to beat out the competition, by extending business hours, extending geographic reach, and saving money on expenses that are often a pitfall for SMEs.
Seamless order taking and appointment setting
A sale can take a long time to iron out. Customers have questions and proper answers can take time to explain to customers who may not understand your product. Just because they’re calling, doesn’t mean they’re buying, right?
With a phone answering professional taking over the phone lines, you can have an entire virtual team handling calls, answering pertinent questions, and spending the time you and your frontline team don’t have to spare in order to get the sale or that all important face-to-face meeting with prospects.
Get more out of ecommerce
You can’t simply set and forget sales with an ecommerce site and hope to capture customers off Google and social media. It just isn’t that easy, as many upstart business owners force themselves to learn the old fashioned way (Ie., the hard way!) Nearly 50% of ecommerce visitors feel frustrated if they can’t call a company directly with their pre-sales questions.
Rather than making it tough on yourself, you can offer a toll free business number (many virtual calling services offer this, too) and give interested people the ability to call your business 24/7 for phone support that compliments your online business. Not to mention, many services offer comprehensive ecommerce services such as live chat and email support.
Voicemail doesn’t inspire communication
When calls go to voicemail, you’re unlikely to get very much information you can use to plan an effective call back. While an existing customer “might” leave a detailed message, usually when a problem is the reason they’re calling; a new customer doesn’t know you that well and the reason they’re calling is to actually talk to a live human.
A virtual receptionist or call center agent bridges this gap, regardless if they can’t close the sale for you. Simply by asking pointed questions about their needs, the best time to call back and any other pertinent data you need, you or your sales staff will be armed with all the information you need to really engage with and build a relationship to close sales with new prospects.
As a business owner, it’s important to realise you can overtake the competition on any given day with just the slightest of tweaks. Tweaks like upping the level of service your brand offers over the phone.
A 24/7 phone answering service may just be the single factor missing from your business. Of course, as many entrepreneurs before you know all too well: You never know until you try!