Category Archives for "FAQ"

What’s the Right Way to Setup an Auto Attendant Service for your Business?

At Smiledog, our specialty is providing our customers the best in virtual reception services. Often, we’re approached with questions about auto-attendants, and whether they are worth considering as a cost-saving measure. In this high-stakes world of business where every dollar counts, it is only natural that business owners look for ways to economize in order to boost profits. While many companies opt for auto-attendants, we think that is often a mistake. You may ask, “Why?” Well, the answer is, simply, that most companies set up their auto-attendants in a way that really sacrifices customer service.

The Wrong Way To Use Auto-Attendants

If you want to increase customer frustration, then a poorly-designed phone system is a good place to start. When we say “poorly-designed,” it may be “great design” from the stand point of a phone company programming the auto-attendant. Most phone companies set up auto-attendants in a manner that makes it unlikely a call gets through to a live person. This reduces call volume and employee hours spent on the phone. However, anyone who has gotten trapped in an endless sea of options with no choice to reach a live person knows how frustrating these systems can be. Is that how you want your customers to feel when then call? Probably not.

Since the inception of auto-attendants, it’s become well-known that pressing 0 sometimes gets you directly to an operator. Once this became common knowledge, many people would just start pressing 0 whenever they reach an auto-attendant, without listening to the options. Some companies, wishing to keep call volumes to their receptionists low, eliminated this option all together. This solved the problem of companies who want to keep costs low, but it greatly increased the frustration of people who just wanted to talk to a “real person.”

The Right Way To Use Auto-Attendants

We feel that the best way to utilize an auto-attendant is to offer callers the option of a live answer, alongside automated options for things like physical address, directions, and more. Those who need a quick and easy answer can access it without incident, while those calling for the first time or with a particular concern can speak with a live person to get the help they need, say, by pressing 1. This splits the difference for businesses, allowing them to reduce call volume without causing their customers frustration.

You may think, well, that avenue defeats the purpose of auto-attendant, because you still have to have someone monitoring the phones. This is true, although there is another option. Smiledog could be your backup live call answer that you utilized with your auto-attendant. This would reduce call volume and increase your office productivity, and you maintain the level of customer service that you want as a growing business.

New Customers Grow Your Business

New customers calling your business want to talk to a live voice, not simply leave a voicemail or listen to a lengthy menu of options. There are many options these days, and you don’t want to lose a potential new client because they couldn’t get a person on the phone. Consider virtual reception as a backup for your auto-attendant, maximizing office productivity while also maximizing customer service.

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Why Auto Attendants are a Bad Idea for Small Businesses?

Here at Smiledog, we provide top-quality virtual reception services, and we’re approached by small business from time-to-time to discuss our services versus using an auto-attendant. We think virtual reception is a superior option for a variety of reasons, but when done right, auto-attendants aren’t de facto “bad” for business. In fact, auto-attendants can end up working well for businesses. The problem that we often observe is that businesses using auto-attendants have the system set up poorly from a customer service standpoint.

Why Do Businesses Use Auto-Attendants?

Most businesses using auto-attendants find that the cost of an in-house receptionist is simply too great for a growing business. Because they need the phone answered, they opt for the inexpensive auto-attendant to help route calls efficiently. However, when they set the system up, they often make a few crucial errors that can end up hurting them in the long run.

Most Businesses Have Poorly-Designed Auto-Attendants

Many of these automated phone systems are needlessly complicated, with too many options. No one likes calling those lines where there are 9 different options, and you’re never really sure if you hit the right option once you make a choice. Sometimes you just sit there pressing 0, hoping to get to an operator. And therein lies the secret of a better auto-attendant phone system: a live option.

Over the years, people have gotten wise to the short-cut of pressing 0 on the phone to go immediately to an operator to get the help you seek. In response, big and small companies alike have removed that option, with an eye toward saving money. Instead of prioritizing customer service, they’ve prioritized the capital cost of time and money for an employee. There is logic to the choice, so we understand why it happens. However, we think there is a better way.

Why Not Use Your Auto-Attendant And Smiledog For Your Live Option?

Removing the option to immediately reach an operator, we feel, is poor customer service. It causes frustration for callers who don’t have a routine concern, and it just generally appears as though the company isn’t interested in talking to their customers directly. We don’t recommend that clients using auto-attendants should ever opt for removal of a live option. However, there is no need to hire someone just to back up the auto-attendant — that seems counterproductive to the whole goal of saving money! Instead, we suggest you consider Smiledog as the live option backing up your auto-attendant.

By choosing this method, you retain the auto-attendant to handle your most routine phone tasks, like providing your business address or basic directions to your location. But, you also give your customers the opportunity to speak to a live person immediately if they feel the need. If you want to use auto-attendant services, Smiledog can help you set it up in the best way possible so that you save money and time, but you don’t sacrifice customer service.

If you want to learn more about our services or are ready to sign up today, visit our GETTING STARTED page or call our office direct. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

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Why is it So Essential for Small Businesses to Answer All Calls Live?

In our business, our biggest competitors are auto-attendants and voicemail. The reason why businesses choose to go with these companies is pretty simple, actually, and that reason is price. When a machine answers the phone instead of a human, the price is going to be lower. When making the choice between using an auto-attendant and using virtual reception, we suggest our clients look beyond price and consider the total picture.

People Like To Speak To A “Real Person”

Have you ever been talking with a friend, and they describe to you a frustrating customer service experience when they sought information by phone? Most people have had a negative experience with being unwillingly pushed to voicemail or getting lost in a phone tree that never seems to reach a live voice. These types of experiences leave a negative impression of the company. Using an auto-attendant is a low-cost option, but it could end up costing you business.

It’s Hard To Know If You’re Losing Business When Using Auto-Answering

There’s really no way of knowing whether you’re losing business when you use auto-attendants or voicemail. If someone is calling to set up an appointment for a quote or to learn more about your services, and they reach voicemail, they may leave a message and move on. However, plenty of people simply don’t like leaving voicemails — there is always the chance they just hang up the phone and go to the next name on their list. These hang-ups represent a certain amount of lost business, which is why we ask our potential clients to consider the use of virtual reception an investment in better customer service, and hopefully, a bigger bottom line.

Live Answer = Better Customer Care

Let’s face it: people want to talk to a live person. Technology is great, but just because you can fully automate your phone answering doesn’t mean that it’s the best choice for your business. You could be losing potential customers every day when using auto-answering, and you’d never know it.

We believe that virtual reception is a superior option, since we offer your callers the ability to communicate with a live person every time. When a customer picks up the phone to call, they want to reach someone on the other end of the line — otherwise, they’d email!

If you’re ready to learn more about our services, or are ready to get started today, visit our GETTING STARTED page, or call our office to speak with us about your needs. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

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How Does a Virtual Receptionist Handle Cold Callers and Solicitations?

If you are a business that receives a lot of cold callers and solicitations, Smiledog can help streamline the time you spend on the phone. Let’s face it, most of the calls are more a nuisance, but some of those cold calls might be a product or service your business could use. By using Smiledog virtual receptionists, you can ignore the nuisance calls and follow-up on the promising ones.

Smiledog Virtual Receptionists Are Professionals

At Smiledog, we train our virtual receptionists to handle all types of callers. Solicitations are just one of the many types of caller our virtual receptionists are trained to speak with effectively. Often, we’ll get calls from the same solicitor for different clients! Whatever the case may be, we make an effort to treat each caller with friendliness and respect, no matter what the nature of the call. Our method of screening ensures that we get enough information from the solicitor so that you can judge whether or not the opportunity is worth pursuing.

Special Requests Are Accommodated

Do you have a special request as to how you’d like your calls handled by Smiledog? Our services are highly customizable, and we can follow special instructions as to how you’d like solicitation calls handled. Perhaps there is a particular set of information you want collected — we can do that! When you sign up for Smiledog services, be sure to mention your preferences as to how you’d like us to handle your calls, and we will make sure things happen according to your wishes.

Let Smiledog Screen Your Solicitor Calls

Even when you are interested in a solicitor’s services, the calls never seem to come at a convenient time. When you use Smiledog to screen your solicitor calls, you can pursue the opportunities that look promising for your business, without having to deal with those that are more nuisance than they are helpful.

Call our office today or visit our GETTING STARTED page to learn more about how Smiledog can streamline your business operations and help stretch your bottom line.

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How do Virtual Receptionists Handle Personal or Sensitive Information?

If you work in a profession where personal or sensitive information is regularly conveyed over the phone, you might be wondering if Smiledog is something that could work for you. We assure all of our clients that all of their sensitive or personal information is safely handled by our professional receptionists, and they sign confidentiality agreements in connection with their job duties. This meets the legal requirements for confidentiality in the medical and legal fields, which protects both your business and Smiledog as well.

Professional Handling Of Your Sensitive Information

We understand that your clients trust you with their sensitive information, and we want you to trust us as we provide you with top quality virtual reception. We believe that that entails our receptionists be as polite and professional with each caller, and treating any sensitive information to which they’re exposed in a confidential manner. We require that each receptionist sign a general confidentiality agreement protecting us, them, and of course, you, the client.

Some clients with particular concerns may have their own confidentiality agreement that they require as part of their legal compliance. If you have one of these agreements, we can arrange to have that signed by our receptionists to help you meet your compliance requirements.

We Strive To Serve Our Customers

Our goal at Smiledog is always to serve our customers in a way that best meets their needs. We don’t want someone to dismiss virtual reception as an option, simply because their line of work is one where confidentiality is a concern. When you set up your account with us, we thoroughly examine your business needs and concerns, and come up with a plan that meets your business needs.

Increase Your Productivity and Stretch Your Bottom Line

Using virtual reception services is one way that you can increase your office productivity while saving money over traditional in-house reception options. We customize all of our services to meet your business needs. If you are curious about Smiledog virtual reception and want to learn more, we encourage you to contact us today. We want to be your virtual reception solution.

Contact us by phone today or visit our GETTING STARTED page to learn more!

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Will My Virtual Receptionist Make Outgoing Calls for my Business?

Though we are not a call centre, Smiledog is able to make outgoing calls for your business. If you’re wondering what those calls would be like, let’s take a closer look at the Smiledog service. Our basic services entail answering your incoming calls, announcing and transferring those calls, and taking messages as you direct. In addition to these services, we can also perform phone-based small tasks for you, such as filling out forms or collecting certain information. Appointment-setting services are also another option for those seeking our virtual reception services.

What Outgoing Calls Does Smiledog Make?

An example of an outgoing call that Smiledog makes is the example of one of our clients calling in sick. When one of our clients is ill, he or she can call our office and request that the day’s appointments be rescheduled due to illness. Our receptionists can call the scheduled clients for that day and rebook the appointments for a future date.

Larger offices may not need this service because of coworkers who can take up the slack, but for smaller businesses or solo practitioners, this service is invaluable. It’s just like having an in-house receptionist ready and willing to perform in an emergency situation.

Smiledog’s Commitment To You

Our primary goal as a business is to provide premium virtual receptionist services to each and every one of our clients, with the hope that our service is completely transparent to incoming callers. The idea that we have in mind is that it always appears as though we are in-house receptionists to callers.

Call Today For More Information

If you’re curious to learn more about how virtual reception can streamline your business operations, call us today. We are excited to meet with you to learn more about your business, and to offer suggestions on how Smiledog can make a big difference to your productivity and bottom line!

Contact us by phone today or visit our GETTING STARTED page to learn more!

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Do Virtual Receptionists Handle Customer Service Issues For My Business?

At Smiledog, we really consider that every incoming call is a “customer service” call. Though they may just be looking to speak with someone for a moment, we still consider the transfer of the call an experience that should satisfy the customer. When customers get an auto-answer or a voicemail, we think customer service is compromised. We feel that the best customer service comes when a business is answering each and every call during the business day with a live, friendly greeting.

What If An Angry Customer Calls?

Every business has the occasional irate caller, no matter how hard they work to satisfy their customers. We’re not afraid of these callers, in fact, our virtual receptionists are trained in how to handle every kind of caller in a calm, professional manner. They are able to reassurance and support, without compromising your position as a decision-maker in your business.

You may already have “best practices” in place to handle customer issues when they call in. You can discuss these protocols with us so that we understand them, and that we can properly direct our receptionists in your preferred procedures. Typically, our clients have a certain amount of information they want collected from customers with issues, so they can return a call with a solution in mind. You can create forms to ensure proper information is always collected.

We Want To Be Your Receptionist, Not Just Your Answering Service

Many who sign up with answering services get just that: an answering service. At Smiledog, we aim higher, hoping to replicate the experience of having an in-house receptionist. This is what sets us apart from the competition — we’re not just your answering service; we’re something more.

Call us today or visit our GETTING STARTED page to learn more about our services, and how we aim to provide the best customer service to you, and your customers too!

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Can Smiledog Help A New Business Get A Phone Number?

Startup businesses interested in virtual reception may wonder if Smiledog can be your phone provider, and the answer is, yes! One of the great advantages of using Smiledog for smaller startups is that we can get everything ready to go as far as phone services go. When new companies come to Smiledog, they may not yet have a business line. Smiledog clients can use the number issued by Smiledog as their main number, and never have to worry about call forwarding.

Let Smiledog Help You Get Started

Starting a new business can be a challenge, and by letting Smiledog handle getting your business phone set up, you save time and energy for the more important things. You can use a local or toll-free 800 line; whichever suits your particular business. You can publish this number in your marketing materials and in advertising with confidence, because you can always keep this number. If you decide to leave Smiledog in the future, you don’t have to worry about the hassle of getting a new phone number. (Of course, we hope you always stay with Smiledog!)

Smiledog Service Basics

If you’re wondering how our services work, it’s actually pretty simple. Either full time or part time, we can answer your incoming calls during business hours. We answer all calls live, with a friendly receptionist delivering your preferred greeting to all your callers. Our sophisticated phone technology makes certain each caller gets the appropriate greeting, and we can even do small tasks and make appointments for you as well.

Contact Us Today To Learn More!

New businesses just getting started can discover the convenience and ease of handling phone calls by trying virtual reception. You can call our office and discuss more about your specific needs, and discover how we can custom-design a phone plan that meets your needs while accommodating your budget.

Call us today to learn more, or visit our GETTING STARTED page today! We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

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Is Virtual Reception Available Part-Time? Or Only Full-Time?

There is an incredible degree of flexibility when you work with Smiledog as your virtual reception solution. Some of our clients come on board with Smiledog as full-time users, meaning that Smiledog handles all incoming calls and messaging. However, many businesses don’t need that much coverage, and would prefer using Smiledog on a part time or backup basis. The good news is that our services are entirely customizable, and we can arrange a coverage solution that meets your individual needs.

The Smiledog Way

Whether using Smiledog full or part time, the way our service works is the same. If Smiledog is answering your incoming calls for that day, each caller is answered with a live receptionist, using your preferred greeting. After announcing the call, we complete the transfer, or take a message as directed. Full time reception users get this service throughout the business day, every day.

Part Time With Smiledog

Those using Smiledog on a part time basis can manage their service in a few different ways. The first option is to simply turn on the call forwarding feature, sending calls coming directly to your business line to Smiledog’s dedicated line for your business. This is a great feature that you might use when you have meetings, are out of the office, or otherwise need phone coverage. It’s also convenient for call answering while your receptionist is at lunch, on vacation, or otherwise unable to answer calls.

The second option for part time Smiledog services is is to use our busy call forwarding service, which sends the call to Smiledog if the incoming line is busy. This is great for businesses who have occasional high call volumes. Another option is to have the call automatically transferred after 3 or 4 rings, a great option if you don’t want to worry about remembering to turn on the feature when needed.

Smiledog Strives To Meet Your Needs

At Smiledog, we understand that every business is different, and we want to meet your needs, whatever they may be. Our services are completely customizable, and we focus our energy on making sure we fulfill your needs and expectations.

Call Smiledog today and learn how virtual receptionist services can change your office operations for the better! If you’re ready to begin now, visit our GETTING STARTED page!

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Offsite Virtual Reception for Business to Business and Manufacturing Firms

Businesses of many different stripes can benefit from giving virtual reception a try. Business to business and manufacturing firms are great candidates for virtual reception services. Incoming calls to these businesses must be handled quickly and efficiently, and Smiledog can help make that possible through friendly, capable virtual reception.

Support Staff Can Focus On Their Work

What tends to happen in growing businesses is the administrative staff juggles the incoming calls while also completing their other office responsibilities. Occasionally, these two objectives conflict, and often the ringing phone gets the “short end of the stick.” Perhaps there is a client in the office that your admin is helping with an issue, and the phone starts to ring. Typically he or she would be at the desk, available to take the call, but certainly can’t walk away from a client to take a call.

This is a scenario where virtual reception really makes sense. Your administrative staff no longer has to juggle incoming calls with administrative work — they can focus on the job duties that keep the business humming along. Our virtual receptionist can answer calls quickly, route them effectively, and everyone gets to experience even greater productivity.

Virtual Reception for Your Business to Business or Manufacturing Firm

Callers to your firm will hear your personalized greeting via our Smiledog receptionist. Our receptionists will announce the call and check availability prior to transfer. If you prefer a message, they’ll be happy to do so, or they can send the call through to you promptly. Every call is answer live, which means nothing slips through the cracks. We’re confident that you’ll be satisfied with the improved productivity in your office even as your clients experience even greater levels of customer satisfaction. Everybody wins!

Ready To Get Started?

Are you ready to get started with Smiledog? You can visit our GETTING STARTED page for more information about how to sign up, or you can call our office to discuss how we can help your business grow with virtual reception!

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