Most businesses only attend to their phone-calling customers for about one-third of the day. If you only have a secretary or receptionist that works the normal 9-5 schedule, you might be missing calls from hundreds of customers every day. As any entrepreneur or small business owner knows, however, keeping your personal phone “on-call” throughout the night, will often leave you dreadfully tired the next morning.
Having someone else handle incoming calls to your business is certainly an enormous time saver and opens up opportunities for small business owners to dedicate their time and energy to the infinite list of activities needed to grow and sustain a successful company. Unfortunately, hiring a private receptionist, especially around the clock, can be a prohibitive cost for small startups who are struggling to pay off their business loan and stay up-to-date on the seemingly infinite list of business costs. Hiring a specialty answering service is one option that can help businesses improve their customer service, gain customers and improve sales, free up time for other job tasks, and reduce their employee and labor expenses.
What Exactly is a Specialty Answering Service?
A specialty answering service is a private company that is hired to answer phone calls on behalf of another business. In the best of cases, an answering service will increase the number of potential customers successfully contacting your company, while also improving your customer service experience.
Whereas generic answering services only answer calls and forward them on to others in your company, a specialty answering service will have specific knowledge and expertise in a wide variety of important industries and businesses, including medical, dental, veterinary, HVAC, property management, among others. A specialty answering service will have the necessary experience to properly handle and respond to your customer´s inquiries. For example, in the case of an independent plumbing contractor, a specialty answering service should be able to tell the difference between a real plumbing emergency and a common, run-of-the-mill problem. Instead of waking up the independent contractor in the middle of the night, the specialty answering service would be able to detect a routine maintenance issue that could wait until the morning.
Furthermore, some industries may require specific certifications that guarantee customer privacy and confidentiality, and a specialty answering service will have those needed certifications. Hartley & Associates, for example, is a highly qualified specialty answering service that serves the medical community. They ensure that all of their messaging protocols withstand HIPAA compliance scrutiny.
Why Should You Consider Hiring a Specialty Answering Service?
Though it might be nice to hand the duty of answering your business phone calls to someone else, what exactly are the tangible benefits of hiring a specialty answering service?
Reason # 1: Improve your customer service
We have already outlined above the fundamental importance of customer service in building a successful business model. Because so many customers prefer to contact small businesses over the phone, quality phone receptionist service is at the forefront of an excellent customer service strategy. Regrettably, one recent study found that 62 percent of phone calls to small businesses are left unanswered. Simply put, you cannot convert a customer into a sale if you never have the opportunity to talk with them. A specialty answering service can ensure that your business receives 100 percent of your customer calls, thus drastically improving the “first line” of quality customer service.
Consider the following statistics related to the absolute importance of customer service:
- American consumers have stated that are more than willing to pay up to 17 percent more to do business with companies that have a proven reputation when it comes to customer service.
- Well over half of consumers (52 percent) will make an additional purchase from a business after a positive customer service experience.
- Attracting a new customer is up to 7 times more expensive than retaining a current one.
Of course, the first step towards a positive customer service experience begins with actually receiving a customer phone call. Recent research has found that up to 60 percent of customers prefer to connect with small businesses over the phone.
Reason #2: Gain customers and improve sales
A specialty answering service should have demonstrable experience in your business niche or industry. This experience will ensure that when customers call your company, their questions and concerns will be effectively and succinctly answered by someone with practical knowledge related to your business. In the best of cases, a specialty answering service can also help to market your business products or services, thus leading to increased revenue for your company.
Reason #3: Free up time for other job tasks
It´s no secret that running a small business comes with an endless list of tasks. Instead of frantically trying to answer every phone call while simultaneously doing payroll, attending to your in-store customers, and developing next month´s operating budget, hiring an answering service will free up an enormous amount of your time. Furthermore, a quality specialty answering service will be able to efficiently sift through the received phone calls in order to pass on important messages from your customers to the trusted employees that you have designated.
Reason #4: Reduce your employee and labor expenses
As a general rule of thumb, payroll expenses for small businesses should fall somewhere between 15 to 30 percent of your company´s gross revenue. Unfortunately, many small startups end up paying considerably more on their labor expenses during the first years of operation. Hiring a specialty answering service is a cost-effective alternative to hiring another full-time or part-time employee. With the average secretary salary in the United States costing over $25,000, a specialty answering service can provide an additional bump in staffing at a fraction of the cost of hiring.
Hiring a specialty answering service might initially seem like another business cost that could be potentially avoided. However, the best answering services, such as those provided by Hartley & Associates, will often pay for themselves through lower labor costs, improved customer retention levels, and even increased sales and business revenue. Contact us today at 866-918-8700 or fill out our online contact form to see how we can help you