One of the harsh realities of being an ecommerce store owner is that you can’t be available 24/7 in order to capture every potential sale. In days gone by, customers would readily search for the product they were looking for and check out with no desire to contact the store owner. Now, customers — particularly those that fit into the millennial demographic — expect more personalized service.
Online customers want to get a feel for a service before they buy. It’s also a given that many will have a variety of pre-sale questions, too. This brings on the need for impeccable service. To be competitive, you need to have representatives available to take calls, emails, and chat support requests even when you and your front-line staff are busy.
A live phone answering service accomplishes this task mightily. An answering service can put you back in the race for endless sales, ensuring no call goes unanswered.
Voicemail equals lost sales
Consider the example of a customer who lives in a different time zone who suddenly decides they want to buy a t-shirt from your site. They have a question or special request they’d like to make on their order, and want to make a purchase decision before they go to bed. If you and your staff aren’t available when they decide to call the support number listed on your website, you just lost a sale.
A live call answering service can take care of your off-hours needs by taking calls for you. The extent of service offered varies by company. Some offer basic phone answering and message taking. Others will offer full-on reception, and even call center services to handle sales and support. Remember that customers will engage with a human far more often than they will a machine!
Added level of professionalism increases sales
Modern online customers are definitely looking for a higher level of personalized service from the brands they do business with. However, simply having a “receptionist” answer your calls and forward them to you or an appropriate staff member will increase the perception of your brand. If you’re a small upstart brand, a live receptionist can make you look bigger and more established than you are.
Another area where professionalism can be increased is during busy business hours when you and your staff are bogged down with endless calls and requests. A live answering service can be called into action on-demand, to help ease call volumes, preventing long wait times and decreased professionalism over the phone. We all know as stress levels rise, service levels go down.
A live call answering service is often just what the doctor ordered for small and medium-sized ecommerce businesses.
Call forwarding a game changer for virtual teams
The advantages of virtual teams – headquartered in a Virtual HQ – are many. One of the disadvantages is that employees can live in a variety of places. The last thing you want is to list multiple contact numbers for the various departments in your online business for customers. An online customer wants a direct, clickable link to your business phone number on your website for pre-sale service.
A live phone service bridges the gap between your customers and virtual employees. Receptionists can be trained to quickly screen callers and determine the appropriate employee to forward the call to. Callers needn’t know that you and your staff aren’t firmly planted in the same location, increasing confidence in your ability to satisfy their service needs with minimal hiccups.
Assistance with outbound follow up
There are plenty of call answering services that also offer outbound calling services. Consider again, the off-hours situation, where you and your regular staff aren’t available. What if an online customer selects the “Let us call you” option to discuss a product or service you sell?
Look at how fast Ebay and Amazon call their customers when a request is made. They call customers immediately because they realize time is money. When a customer has to wait, they’re going to look for other options. Having a virtual reception team on duty at all hours ensures requests and regular follow-ups can be made with ease.
How to choose a call answering service for your online store
1. Check reviews first
There’s no sense moving forward with any call answering service until you scan their online reviews thoroughly. Avoid round up sites or blogs with blatant and shameless affiliate links to a chosen provider’s site. Instead, focus on social media reviews, check the Better Business Bureau, Ripoff Reports, Consumer Affairs, and other reputed review sites online.
2. Call each service
Emails and online chats aren’t going to give you enough of an impression about what a call answering service can offer. You want to actually call them, as your prospects will be doing, to get a sense of their professionalism and ask questions about their call volume capabilities and pricing information.
3. Compare features and pricing
There’s literally no standard in this industry when it comes to pricing. A small service may charge more for after-hours calls because they’re a single individual operating out of a set location. Larger services might seem to offer more inexpensive service, yet will have tons of hidden fees and rules that leave you shaking your head at the end of the month when the bill comes. Shop around carefully, and avoid services that try to lock you into an extended contract before you’ve had a chance to test them out thoroughly.
A live phone answering service can help online store owners no matter what level you’re at currently. Don’t let your competition get the better of you by avoiding the added benefits — including increased sales — a service like this can offer.