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  • Michael Bolt

The Real World Benefits of a Telephone Answering Service for Online Business

Ask most people what their pet gripe is when calling a company and they will tell you how frustrated they become when they fail to get through to a real human being.

Hiring a professional telephone answering service for your business is cheaper than people think. Usually there are no massive setup costs or lengthy contracts and often it works as a pay-as-you-go service.

When you call a company on the phone, the reception you get will have a massive influence on your perception of them.

If that reception is automated, it usually goes like this, thanks for calling XYZ Limited, please press 1 for faults, 2 for new accounts, 3 to hear all about our ‘wonderful’ new product, 4 to extend your current services, and so on and on.

If you think selecting one of these numbers will get you through to a person, in most cases you’d be wrong, because then another voice will continue to speak almost painfully  slowly. Then, one of two things happen, one – you end the phone call, or 2 and even worse, they do. By accident.

So then you have to start the process all over again. A professional telephone answering service will rescue your customers from hearing this.

As an example, the U.K bank, First Direct, hires a call centre to handle all its customers’ incoming calls and queries, it has won awards for Customer Service and has a 97 per cent customer satisfaction level among its users.

This figure is unprecedented in such an environment, but how is it the business pleases its customers so easily? A real human being answers their calls within three rings.

Now, if you’re a business that typically transacts online, it’s my opinion that having a human being answer your calls is essential. Here’s why, and for your info, I have some unpleasant experience of this very recently…..

Think of the benefits:

  1. Employees will not be tied up answering the phone and will be able to get on with the job in hand whether that’s supply chain, marketing, social media, marketing, customer service, marketing, etc… 😉

  2. All businesses have peak times when calls come in and if you try and do this in house you will need an army of call centre staff ready to pick up those calls meaning lots of downtime when they don’t need to. Another round of Scrabble anyone?

  3. Customers will be so much more relieved to get through to a real human being, it’ll almost be a surprise.

  4. Customers won’t be so angry when they do manage to get through to the “front line” if – and woe betide – mistakes happen. (Anyone who has worked in a customer facing role will tell you of the daily abuse suffered from dissatisfied clients who have endured a bad telephone call experience.)

You will notice that a call centre, when run professionally and staffed correctly, will mean:

  1. You never miss a call, ever, barring biblical encounters or ofcourse in the UK, snow.

  2. A business will automatically improve its level of care, perceived or otherwise

  3. You save money – stop paying for that full time receptionist playing Sudoku.

Here are few more notable benefits

First impressions Count

In business, the experience a potential client goes through when he or she makes an initial inquiry about your services, will count volumes. Much of the time it will be the difference between whether they do business with you or find someone else that can answer the call with a human voice possessing an ability to answer key questions all customers want to hear like: How much does the service cost? What can it do to benefit me? What are your terms? The list goes on.

Let your team do what they do best

Your outbound sales team needs that time to generate revenue and help the business grow. This cannot be achieved if they are persistently answering calls from clients wanting to be put through to billing or move their engineer’s appointment to next week. The same goes for your other members of staff.

The Cost. It’s like Time Share. Just with human beings!

The average cost of hiring a receptionist can be as much as £100 per day; for the same financial outlay you could have a telephone answering service for an entire month!

Call answering services also let you filter out those calls that are of little value. It is important to remember that call centre staff can very quickly be briefed on a new set of FAQs or company values, particularly when the changes in business demand it.

The benefit of this means that when that all-important call comes through from a potential client, that customer will be greeted with a well-informed, polite and friendly message from a real human voice. We call that Knowledge Based Administration here at Need More Time.

Better when things go wrong

Apart from answering the initial call, another great time to speak to a real person is when something is going wrong. Being dealt bad news by email can destroy a customers experience and although, yes, no one likes getting bad news – if they can hear it from a person who is trying to help them, it is immeasurably better.

Alas, this is my latest experience. I placed an order online that had to be delivered overseas – hardly an unreasonable request, seeing as the company in question has a royal warrant.

Unfortunately things quickly went wrong during despatch and then in transit too, and although this organisation has a very impressive storefront in Central London, as it was their ‘Online Department’ they insisted in dealing with me by email. Not good.

Needless to say I won’t be placing a repeat order.

So, it can happen to the best of them. Maybe I should send them my business card… 


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