When is an answering service right for your business?

When is an answering service right for your business?

When is an answering service right for your business?

It can be difficult for busy business owners to measure when it may be time to hire a virtual receptionist. The most obvious question is when does the benefit outweigh the cost? Luckily, there are several key indicators that can help determine the answer.

Professional Image

If your business requires the image that you’re ‘always on’ or that you have a large support system in place, missing calls can be a huge red flag for clients. As a business owner, you may not be able to answer every call that comes in. Or if you are, chances are you’ve been caught with your dog barking in the background or sounding out of breath as you run out to complete an errand. Even with a full time receptionist or support team, between sick time and vacation days, gaps will arise. If your professional image can’t afford to have missed calls, it may be time to look into receptionist support.

Business Growth Opportunities

As your productivity grows, so do your opportunities for growth. I can be overwhelming as more calls come in while you’re trying to hold everything else down. A professional answering service can alleviate the pressure of mounting inquiries, allowing you to focus on building your business. If you’ve noticed that your call volume has increased to a level you can’t keep up with, it may be time to hire a virtual receptionist.

Affordability

It may seem like a frivolous expense to hire an outside company to answer your calls. However, if you look at the cost to set up a similar service in-house, it may not seem quite as daunting of an expense. Not only will it cost much less to hire a third party, your team won’t be interrupted incessantly by the phones ringing each day, lending to higher levels of productivity! So, if you’ve been thinking about expanding your support team, it may be time to consider a third-party instead.

If any of these indicators sound familiar, it might be time to take your business to the next level by working with a virtual receptionist. If you’d like a quick demo of how Smiledog works for our clients, click here! 

 

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

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.

[sc:GuideCTA]

Why Auto Attendants are a Bad Idea for Small Businesses?

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!

[sc:GuideCTA]

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!

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.

[sc:GuideCTA]

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!

[sc:GuideCTA]