Running a business probably means that you have an endless list of tasks that only seems to grow on a daily basis. Whether you´re just a small one-person startup or managing a growing company that employs hundreds of people, customer service should obviously be high on any priority list. But when customers or clients call you in the middle of the night or on a busy weekend to ask some basic questions, it can certainly be wearisome. Hiring an answering service is not only a major time-saver for businesses of all sizes, but it can also offer several other advantages that we will explore below.
What does an answering service do?
No matter what industry or line of business you are in, one of the most infuriating things for customers is trying to get into contact with a company and either being put on hold or having their call go unanswered. Despite the rapid growth of “chat bots” and other online answering tools that rely on some sort of artificial intelligence technology, statistics show that at least 46 percent of users would much prefer to communicate with a real person instead of a computer.
Answering services are private companies that offer answering services to businesses within a variety of different industries. Answering services handle and manage inbound communications such as answering phone calls, transferring calls, taking messages, and relaying information to their clients. They also can offer basic information to potential customers, and deliver specific messages to your business any way you choose and at any time. In terms of needed technology, most answering services simply rely on call forwarding, which is a service offered by virtually every phone and telecommunications provider.
Answering services such as those offered by Hartley & Associates can tailor their services to individual business needs.
What are the advantages of hiring an answering service?
So why should a business hire a separate answering service, instead of taking on the responsibility to answer the calls themselves? Almost all businesses know that customer service is one of the most vital cogs in the business machine. At the same time, however, customer service can take up a LOT of your time. Hiring a secretary or operator will obviously add to your total employee costs. In almost all cases, outsourcing your answering services offers a more cost-effective solution to an essential aspect of a holistic customer service strategy.
Furthermore, many businesses are forced to hire additional staff during the holidays and other times of the year. In 2016, for example, American employers hired roughly an extra 570 thousand people for the holiday season. Working with answering services throughout the year can often allow companies to avoid the extra employee expenses that come with additional staffing during high-volume periods. Even if you don’t work with answering services throughout the year, temporary contracts with answering services can give an additional bump in staffing at a fraction of the cost of hiring.
Another benefit of working with answering services is that businesses can avoid the high economic costs of employee turnover. According to one estimate, “every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 months’ salary on average. For a manager making $40,000 a year, that’s $20,000 to $30,000 in recruiting and training expenses.” For business owners who are repeatedly having to recruit, hire, and train employees in answering calls and customer service, setting up a long-term contract with an answering service will be a much more cost-effective solution.
Similarly, hiring an answering service can also help businesses avoid the extra costs that come with overtime pay. Labor costs can often account for upwards of 70 percent of all business costs, and overtime hours can often put business owners in dire economic straits. Finding ways to cut down on those overtime costs is often an essential part of healthy payroll management. Hiring answering services essentially allow business owners to outsource an important part of their customer service strategy, and thus avoid the headache of having to manage overtime hours during critical business times.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, hiring an answering service will also allow businesses of different sizes to benefit from excellent customer service attention. According to some polls, upwards of one-third of consumers state that they would switch companies after having experienced just one instance of bad customer service. Many answering services offer 24/7/365 attention, which is an absolute necessity for many industries, at a fraction of the cost. Also, despite the tendency to outsource answering services to foreign countries where operators speak English as a second language, the best answering services will keep their operations in the country and commit to only hiring native English speakers.
Similarly, these companies can also provide other elements of vital customer service, including:
- On-call dispatching
- Text response
- HIPAA compliance (for protected health-related information)
- Bilingual support
- Appointment scheduling
- CRM integration
- Mobile App/Online Portal access
What to look for in the best answering services?
If you think that your company could save money and improve its customer service engagement with the help of an answering service, it is important to prioritize those companies that have the best credentials and proven experience in your industry or line of work. Hartley & Associates, for example, has ample experience serving businesses and professionals in a wide array of industries, including doctors, dentists, veterinarians, construction companies, HVAC professionals, property management, in-home care, law offices, and other small businesses.
Furthermore, the best answering services will be those who are able and willing to work with their clients to create a unique, tailored approach suited to the needs of each business. Of course, the price of outsourcing answering services for your business should also be cost-competitive, and might even lower your overall labor costs.
Recent business studies have found that 80 percent of all business communications take place over the phone. For small business owners, large corporations, and everyone in between, missing just one call can lead to potential business losses. Answering services such as those provided by Hartley & Associates offer a cost-effective solution to ensure that you never miss another potential customer. Contact us today at (866) 918-8700 or fill out our online contact form to see how we can help you.