Answering services have been a hallmark of professionalism in many industries for decades, and to many customers, they still signify a company with enough established cash reserves and assets to be able to fund after-hours customer service. Even among those who realize these services are inexpensive outside contractors who handle many clients and not dedicated employees of the company itself, they help establish trust by providing the peace of mind that comes from communicating directly with another person instead of leaving an impersonal message.
Today, many of the uses of an answering service can be automated in ways that still sound like a live service. Other services have moved to digitize the experience while still keeping live answering available, making it easier to get your messages. No matter which service level suits you, today’s answering service software helps communicate to customers that you care about helping them even when you aren’t open and that you will respond. The best part is, modern services using the software are inexpensive compared to the answering services of a couple of decades ago. If you’re wondering exactly what you get from them that you don’t get through email or social media, here you go.
1. You Provide Responsive Service To Wider Demographics
It’s not just that answering services let you take messages offline from people who prefer that form of communication, it’s also the case that some people find online communication inaccessible for a variety of reasons. Whether they are customers who do not have constant access to a computer or simply those for whom disability makes navigating a keyboard difficult, there are a lot of people who will need an alternative to your digital messaging options, and sometimes they need to call when your offices are closed. Answering services let them leave their concerns in detail even when problems occur early in the morning or late at night.
2. Your Business Gets Direct Customer Service for Unfulfilled Orders
Often, when an order is placed it’s not the end of communication with a customer, just the beginning. For consumer-facing businesses, this might mean changing shipping methods or addresses, adding last-minute additions before processing shipping, or even responsive cancellations of orders. For B2B businesses, it can be even more important, because clients often need to increase order, modify delivery times, or arrange for non-commercial delivery options like the use of their own drivers and vehicles. All of this is easier when they have a way to leave you a message, especially if you are a small business with just a single person on reception.
3. You Can Outsource Reception During Business Hours
Speaking of the cost of maintaining a person on receptionist duty full-time, the right answering service will make that entirely optional. You can configure the service itself to provide front-line reception services that include funneling the call to the right extension, so your core staff can focus more on their core duties. Extending the service to business hours and using it for full-time reception duties can be temporary or permanent too, so a flexible plan can give you a fallback option for full-time receptionists on sick days even if you aren’t using them full-time as a regular matter of course.
4. You Give Yourself a Buffer
You might think investing in an answering service is a good idea, but still an idea for when your company is a bit bigger. The fact is, as inexpensive as plans have become, this investment could be a way to give yourself some breathing room even when you’re still a one-person operation looking for a chance to bring on more help. This lets you focus on the business, filtering unsolicited calls and setting pass-through exceptions for important vendors and contacts so you control who has access to you and who has to leave a message.
5. You Look Like a Bigger Business
It’s an unfortunate fact that people gravitate toward businesses that look more established for a lot of reasons, and that makes competing as a smaller operation difficult. It’s also true, though, that you can look big without being big, and an answering service is one way to do that. Even when a customer knows your operation is still in its fledgling phase, the right extras show that you’re headed for big things.