Running a small business generally calls for ruthless cost-cutting at every opportunity. Yet, some cost-cutting actually hurts your business more than helps it.
Take a receptionist, for example. Whether you use a live or virtual receptionist, many business owners see that as a cost.
They think, “I can answer the phone.” What they don’t consider is what their own time is worth. How much does it cost you to answer the phone?
Take it out another step to answering services for small business. That looks like a pure cost, but it’s not when you dig a little deeper.
Keep reading and we’ll show you five ways an answering service can actually make you money.
1. More Leads
Even the most driven of business owners must sleep. Sooner or later, you go home and drop into bed.
Thanks to the Internet, though, the business world keeps right on chugging along. Depending on your industry and specific offerings, your office could receive business calls at 3 AM from across an ocean. What happens when you don’t pick up?
The caller leaves a voicemail, right?
Not as often as you might think. In fact, around 80% of callers will hang up and call your competitors if they get sent to voicemail.
The worst part is that those callers are probably prospects. Your current customers will know your normal working hours. They’ll typically call when you keep normal business hours or shoot you an email.
An answering service catches those potential customers before they abandon you for the greener pastures of your competition. The live answer reassures them that their message will find it’s way to the right person. You get more business.
2. Happier Customers
What’s the first thing you do when a company doesn’t meet your expectations? For a lot of people, it’s the cue to consider some alternative services.
Happy customers, on the other hand, are loyal customers. Loyal customers spend more over the long haul. They also refer more business.
In short, happy customers drive your profit margin.
Do you know a fast way for turning happy customers into unhappy customers? If you guessed, endless phone menus or sending them directly to voicemail, you’re right!
Customers hate feeling like you see them as an inconvenience. Just like a live answer makes prospects feel like their message will get to a human being, it also makes customers feel that you take them seriously.
In fact, most business answering services offer more than just answering. Take alldayPA, for example. They’ll answer calls, forward them, transfer them to the right person, and even manage live chats on your website.
All of that converts into more happy customers and more profit.
3. Promote Current Sales
Every small business does a certain amount of promotion. You may advertise on social media, in the local paper, or even on the local radio station. It’s the very rare small business that can achieve advertising saturation.
You just can’t afford the expense involved in making sure almost everyone in your customer base knows about your sale. This especially applies when your customer base isn’t centralized. If you offer cloud-based services, for example, your customers might be halfway across the country.
You can always email your customer list with promotional materials, but there’s no guarantee they’ll open the email.
What an answering service can do is make sure that everyone who calls finds out about the sale. You don’t need any aggressive hard selling. You can just ask the answering service to include something like this in their greeting:
“Thank you for calling (Business X). We’re running a promotion on (Service or Product X) this week. You can learn more on our website.”
Letting customers know that the sale exists can prompt additional purchases.
4. Promote New Services
Promoting new services is similar to promoting sales, but it’s not identical.
Sales run for a defined period of time. You give the answering service specific dates for the sale promotion.
Introducing a new service means a long-term change. The promotion must run for longer because it improves the odds of informing more customers.
The upside is that the answering service needn’t provide details. As with the sale promotion, customers can learn more on the website.
Letting customers know you provide a new service encourages them to use it.
5. Improved Focus
You probably take it for granted, but the always-on, always-connected lifestyle saps focus. It’s called cognitive overload and many entrepreneurs suffer from it.
See if this sounds at all familiar. You settle into a productive groove and you hear a text alert on someone else’s phone. You pick up your own phone just in case you got an important email.
You move on to all the social media sites, check your email again, and then go back to work. Except, that’s when your phone rings. You answer it because it’s probably a business call.
An hour of your workday just evaporated and you can’t point to a single thing productive thing you accomplished.
Now, imagine that your phone never rings because someone else is always there to answer it. It’s one big distraction gone from your working life. At a certain point, simply getting a few extra hours of focused work into your week makes you money.
An answering service takes you a big step in that direction.
Parting Thoughts on Answering Services for Small Business
On the surface, answering services for small business might look like an expense. You’re paying for a service. The reality is that those answering services can make you money.
You pick up more leads because potential customers never hear a voicemail that makes them hang up. You can pitch them on your services or products.
Answering services promote happier customers because they feel like they get treated right.
You get an opportunity to promote any sales and new services to your callers. Awareness of sales and services can often prompt purchases.
Answering services can also serve as a buffer between you and distraction. A few hours of focused, distraction-free work can often prove very profitable. After all, no amount of advertising can replace completed work.
Looking for more small business advice? Check out our post on essential small business hacks.