Telephone answering services aren't new. But the whole sector is buzzing. The thing is, business owners are getting more and more creative about the ways they use their answering service to support better bottom lines. It looks like message taking and call forwarding are just the tip of a rather exciting iceberg. If you've never thought outside the box about what an answering service could do for you, here's some inspiration.
1. Delight your customers
Marketing personalisation is best done online when you have millions of customers, as you might do if you sell a cheap and ubiquitous consumer good like tea bags or loo roll. You'd thank someone for their purchase by email or text, if at all. But when you sell services or products B2B it makes a lot of sense to do everything you can to help people remember you, trust you and use you again. And that could take the form of a short, friendly non-sales phone call, a 'courtesy call' to thank them and make sure everything's OK. They'll almost certainly love it. Even if not, they'll remember it!
2. Collect leads
Apparently 85% of people won't phone you back if you don't answer their first call. And plenty of us these days still prefer to use the phone for business, especially when making a big order or a first order with a new supplier. It's a solid base for a good future relationship, even when you transact by email or online from then onwards.
So phone calls often contain leads, and leads are gold dust. Today's answering services capture the information you want from potential customers and either send it to you straight away, forward the call, or add it to your Customer Relationship Management system so you can call back as soon as you're free. And they can do it 24/7/365.
3. Take orders
If you operate internationally, you might get calls at every time of day and night, every day of the year, including weekends. You can't possible take them yourself, but a good call handling service can. Your callers will never know the difference, and you'll be able to grow the business efficiently and effectively thanks to sales processed over the phone, either using your software or their own. Having said that, you could even hand over order-taking completely to a well trained, savvy call handler and free yourself some valuable time to innovate.
4. Integrate your marketing
Every good business has a tone of voice, a logo and a colour scheme people recognise at a glance. Together they form more than the sum of the parts, and that's your brand. You want to take that brand equity and roll it out across every aspect of your business, and that means phone calls as well as printed materials and online content. Contemporary business call answering services can do that for you, briefed to converse freely with customers in the same style as you rather than follow a script, so everything is completely seamless.
5. Know essential fine detail
Fine tune your phone usage and you can save money, time and hassle. Provide your customers and prospects with more of what they want, when they want it, and you can sell more. But you won't know exactly how people use your phone lines unless you explore the numbers. You need to spot patterns, and that means knowing how many calls come into your business every month, what times of day they come in, when are your quiet and busy times, whether or not any calls come in at weekends and out of working hours. A call answering service collects all this as a matter of course, which opens up a whole new world of insight into resources, people, systems and more.
The same goes for marketing campaigns with a phone number attached, where responses are logged on a campaign basis, telling you which of your approaches and media work best. Call reporting and marketing are a great match, and monthly reports deliver a wide spread of essential data including overall call counts, duration, average duration, geographic location, and call results.
Find a good call handling provider and there are no real limits. As long as you can give them a good, clear, detailed brief, they'll deliver exactly what you want. Can you imagine the possibilities?