5 ways a virtual receptionist can make your day-to-day business life easier and help you grow!

5 ways a virtual receptionist can make your day-to-day business life easier and help you grow!

Often when people hear the term “virtual receptionist” they think of someone who answers your phone and takes a message or an assistant type person who can do data entry.

The truth is a virtual receptionist can help you with a heck of a lot. They can do almost everything an in-house receptionist can do when it comes to the phone.

Here are 5 ways a virtual receptionist can make your day-to-day business life easier and help you grow!

#1 Live answer

As high as 80% of callers won’t leave a voice message because they don’t believe they’ll get a callback. By having a virtual receptionist that answers every call live you instantly eliminate the chance of losing a prospective new or current customer to voice mail.

#2 Live transfer

Answering services take messages, but virtual reception services act as, and in fact are, your receptionist.

When someone calls looking for you or another staff member, unless there are other instructions on file to take a message, your virtual receptionist will first try to live transfer the caller to you or the proper staff member.

If that person cannot be reached your virtual receptionist will follow the instructions on your file to either try someone else or take a message.

#3 Book an Appointment

Not every call is someone looking for an answer to a question. In many businesses, the caller is looking to book an appointment. Your virtual receptionist can take the required customer information and book the appointment right on your calendar.

Virtual receptionists are integrated with numerous popular web calendars such as MindBody Online, Appointments Plus and more.

Curious how Virtual Receptionists can Book Appointments for your business? Click here now to get our Video Demo & Price Guide

#4 Answer General Questions

“I have a quick question…” is probably what half the callers to your business say when their call is answered.

No Problem!

Your virtual receptionist can field frequently asked questions and provide answers based on information and resources you provide.

If the question is outside the scope of what your virtual receptionist deems they can handle they’ll politely let the caller know that they need to speak with someone else that specializes in that area and they’ll have them call the customer back ASAP.

#5 Take a Message

This might seem like the most basic function of what a virtual receptionist can do, but it plays an important role in your day-to-day business life.

Know you’re going to be traveling or otherwise unavailable for the day? Let your receptionist know and they’ll be able to promptly tell callers you’re tied up at the moment but you can call them back at the date you’ll be available.

The message will be taken and then sent to you via email for you to return when available.

BONUS #6 Outbound Calling

Most virtual receptionists are not call-centres, but if you need to reschedule customer appointments or follow-up with certain customers they can make those calls and follow the proper procedure you lay out for them.

How Does a Virtual Receptionist Accomplish all this?

Curious how a virtual receptionist manages to be able to do all that for you?

We’ve got a demo video you can watch and also a pricing guide ready for you. Simply select the page below that you feel caters most to your business and you can access the guide and video right away.

The Art of Telephone Upselling

The Art of Telephone Upselling

Telephone upselling is a common sales technique where the telephone representative encourages the customer they are speaking with to purchase more in order to generate more revenue. This is a very successful sales tactic to encourage upgrades, add on services or bigger ticket purchases.

Here are a few ways to maximize your telephone upselling results.

Extend the Customer Relationship

In many cases, customer service teams may be uncomfortable with selling. If this is the case, enrolling the team in sales training will empower them to sell products and services that truly provide measurable value. It is much easier for a customer service based team to upsell when it becomes an extension of providing excellent customer service.

Use a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM)

CRM systems allow companies to store data on their customers. This typically includes demographics, sales history and correspondence logs. Using a CRM will provide your team with customer data allowing them to offer targeted upselling solutions. Offers that are specifically targeted to a customer are much more likely to be well received.

Leverage On-Hold Systems

When customers are placed on-hold, it is prime time to help boost any sales messaging your team might be using. A captive audience is much easier to reach! Use this time to let customers know about possible upselling incentives. Using this time as an initiative will plant the sales seed and allow for the conversation to move to an upsell position much more organically.

Offer Telephone Upselling Incentives

Many teams respond well to internal incentive programs. Humans are naturally attracted to rewards and competition. Offering daily, weekly and monthly quotas with prize levels attached can help your team get into the selling frame of mind. Research suggests that the incentives don’t need to be grandiose and expensive to be effective. Creating goals that are achievable is the main objective. Having goals that are harder to reach will have the opposite effect.

Set Realistic Expectations

Telephone upselling can be an attractive revenue generator, but know when to pull back. Excessive sales tactics can have a polarizing effect, often leading to lost sales and possibly lost clients.

Is there anything else you’d like to know more about and in this article? Let us know!

How to make the most from your Appointment Scheduling

How to make the most from your Appointment Scheduling

How to Make the Most from your Appointment Scheduling

Believe it or not, there is a science to efficient appointment scheduling.

Scheduling appointments is a vital part to clinic efficiency and as a result, clinic profitability. Understanding the techniques that frame scheduling best practices, will ensure that you are maximizing your revenue generating activities.

As appointment scheduling specialists, here are a few of the techniques we have crafted and perfected for our clients.

Schedule in blocks

Scheduling from noon is a common best practice in the world of scheduling. Many clinics use this process to minimize gaps in the day and maximize revenue opportunities. Scheduling from noon means you schedule backwards from 12:00 for your morning appointments and forward from 12:00 for your afternoon appointments. This method also helps to reduce operating costs by enabling clinic owners to schedule providers to maximum capacity. When the odd gap does present itself, savvy clinic owners use those time slots to hold team meetings, have their team catch up on documentation or complete admin tasks.

Implement a Reminder System

Appointment reminder systems are paramount in decreasing no-shows and last minute cancellations. There are a few options for such systems, including automatic confirmation systems that leave voicemail or text messages with reminders. Alternatively, clinics may opt to manually confirm with their clients. Either system will serve as a huge asset to cutting down on missed opportunities for revenue. Additionally, having a cancellation policy and open communication systems for your clients will allow for less last minute misses.

Create a Waiting List

For those times when you don’t catch a last minute cancellation, it is a great idea to have a client waiting list that you can blast last minute opportunities out to. Social media, text or email blasts are a great way to engage with those clients who may be waiting patiently for an opportunity to come in.

Analyze Appointment Scheduling History

At least once a month and then bi-annually and annually, take some time to analyze your appointment book. Look for patterns where your day was ahead of schedule or behind. Were there certain times of the year when you had higher no-shows or cancellations? Where your waiting list was longer than others? Look for those opportunities where you can perhaps pad or streamline your staff availability. This is also a great way to see if you’re allowing the appropriate amount of time per service and perhaps make some adjustments to increase efficiency.

Double Book with Caution

Many clinics opt to maximize capacity by double booking when possible. Double booking essentially means having two clients booked at the same time or overlapping and servicing both during a window typically allotted for one. This can be a highly efficient and profitable business model, however, proceed with caution. Ensure that your provider can adequately serve both clients without the possibility for poor customer service. That may mean analyzing the efforts required for particular services and matching lower effort appointments with higher effort appointments to ensure viability.

Prioritize

Lastly, it is important to understand which services bring in your best margins and allow for those to be your top booking priority. This may mean blocking off time each day for those high priority appointments to ensure that you can get them in efficiently. However, remember to leave room for all of the services you offer.

As a clinic owner, your ‘book’ is one of your most valued tools. By following these best practices, you will ensure that you providing the most value for your customers and your team!

If you’d like to learn more about our appointment scheduling services, get in touch for a free demo!

Building trust in a virtual workplace

Building trust in a virtual workplace

How to Build Trust in a Virtual Workplace


Building trust in a virtual workplace is the cornerstone of all high-performance organizations. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, high-performance companies report 50% more productivity, 76% more engagement, 74% less stress & 70% more alignment with company purpose. 

In a virtual workplace, building trust has its own unique challenges. Without casual interactions at the water cooler, it becomes more difficult to build rapport. Often colleagues lose context for each others’ actions in a remote setting, unable to intuitively pick up on external behaviour influences. Finally, as is always the case, digital communication leaves room for many misunderstandings. 

So how do leaders build trust in a virtual workplace?  

It comes down to a number of factors. The first is kindness.

It may seem over simplified, but treating people with respect is the first step to building a trusted environment. How does this work in a virtual setting? It means allowing for flexibility, understanding that working from home may have some unique challenges and making space for that. Successful leaders carve out time to work with each employee one on one. Additionally, they set up regular weekly meetings as a team to stay connected. Not only that, they know it is important to allow time for employees to connect with each other, so they create opportunities for that. 

Building trust in the virtual workplace requires competence.

Strong leadership skills like communication and transparency are key when working with a team remotely. With so much opportunity for misinterpretation, it is imperative that leaders put communication at the top of their priority list. They don’t always need to have all the answers, but they must be honest about it when they don’t. These actions build a solid foundation for their team.  

Successful remote leaders possess is reliability.

 When building trust, it is essential to do what you say you are going to do. If you promised to send follow up documents at a certain time, ensure that you do. Stand by your commitments, try not to cancel meetings last minute, let your team know that you value their time.  

They foster connection

 Finally, successfully commanding a virtual team, requires creating a genuine connection. Ensuring that your camera is on for every online meeting. Looking directly at the camera emulates eye contact. Making efforts to connect ‘off-line’ via check-in texts and phone calls. Lastly, making sure your team feels comfortable to reach out when they are facing challenges without fear of repercussions. 

 
More and more companies are veering toward a virtual model based on the current situation, but also in a more longer term capacity. Understanding the unique challenges you may face as a remote leader will ensure that you are equipped to succeed. 


If you’d like assistance with building a virtual team, we can help!  

The real cost of missing a call

The real cost of missing a call

The real cost of missing a call

You’ve heard us chat about this before. The real cost of missing a call, especially on the first attempt. First, it may not shock you to know that 75% of callers hang-up if they get a voicemail. However, did you realize that 85% of those callers, never call back? Obviously, the potential revenue loss is substantial, but just how substantial?

Let’s find out just how much it costs to miss a call

A few weeks ago, our Director of Operations, Brandon, held a webinar about your phone line as your life line. In it, he opened with an example of the actual monetary cost to missing a call from a prospective customer.

Here is the breakdown he supplied: For the sake of this example, let’s assume your average customer order comes in around $75 and the average amount it costs to take a call is $5. Using these parameters, it is pretty clear to see that the cost to missing one call is $65. However, what if that customer was actually calling to book a 12 week package, with one order per week for the next 12 weeks. The cost to take the call is the same, but the potential revenue jumps to $900. In this scenario, the cost of missing the call jumps to $895.

Intangible costs to missing a call

However, that’s not where it ends.

Wasted Marketing Efforts

Let’s start to take into consideration some of the intangible costs to missing this call. For instance, you likely spend money on various sources of marketing for your business. In most cases, this marketing is aimed at driving calls to your location. Now that you’ve missed this call, that money that you’ve allocated to promotion, is essentially wasted.

Competitor Boost

Since we now know that 85% of callers do not call back, we can safely assume they have moved on to the next company on their list. If that company, your competitor, was able to take that call, then they are reaping the benefits of that new customer, including their lifespan purchases and referrals.

Reputation

When you’re unable to manage your calls, it sends a message to your clients that you are not managing your business well enough to handle inquiries. It doesn’t take much for a potential customer to wonder if that mis-management will lead into your product or service delivery.

Lifetime Value Loss of missing a call

In our example at the beginning of this article, we broke down a few examples of potential revenue loss from a call. However, what you really need to look at is the potential lifetime loss of missing that call and potential new client. To calculate this amount, you must first determine what your annual average customer value is. To do this, multiply your average order value ($75 in our example above) by the average number of orders you receive from a single client in the run of a year. For this example, let’s assume you see this client weekly for 4 months of the year, approximately 16 orders/year. So, in this example, the annual average customer value is $1200. Now, you must determine what your average customer lifespan is. For our example, we’ll say 5 years.

Therefore, the approximate lifetime value loss for a single client is $6000.

That is a substantial loss for missing a single phone call. If you’re looking to up your game but having an in-house receptionist isn’t in the cards, consider hiring a virtual receptionist. Our customized service helps to bridge this gap, keeping your reputation in tact and your books in the black.

Click here to get started!

The rise of Telehealth

The rise of Telehealth

The Rise of Telehealth

Covid-19 has swept through the Canadian provinces, bringing with it the recommendation to stay out of public spaces as much as possible. Medical clinics and hospitals are clocking in as some of the riskier places to visit. As a result, it seems, telehealth is finally on the rise.

Telehealth, or telemedicine, allows patients to meet with doctors and other medical personnel through secure video conference. In Canada, this has been a slow adaptation. In fact, for most physicians, the use of email or text messages is often an exception, rather than the norm. A lack of reliable infrastructure and support and unsatisfactory compensation for physicians have been the most common deterrents.

Telehealth: Forced Innovation

It didn’t take long to realize that the most effective strategy to fight the spread of the disease was to create physical distance. This left many medical professionals scrambling to find a way to help their clients from afar. Finding a system that could protect patient information and link to their electronic medical records (EMRs) was the biggest hurdle.
Many physicians and medical professionals are finding this to be time consuming and problematic. Toggling confidential patient information with their video conferencing software is less than ideal. Another draw back for many was the less than adequate pay structure for telemedicine. While there have been some recent improvements in this area, fee for service payment is still a relatively new concept and largely available within the private sector.

A current necessity

However, regardless of the pitfalls, the move to telemedicine is timely and important. Keeping people out of busy emergency rooms is paramount to keep Covid-19 at bay. This keeps potentially immunocompromised patients away from possibly infected patients with Covid-19. For many providers, this was the urgent push needed to get their telemedicine products ready for market. Jane, which offers online booking, charting, scheduling, secure video and invoicing on a secure system is one of such providers leading the cause in Canada.

Here to stay

While telehealth isn’t considered a full replacement for traditional healthcare, it may be here to stay in some facets. Certainly virtual appointments can not replace physical examinations. However, it can help to alleviate some of the demand on busy emergency rooms and walk in clinics now, while we face this global crisis, and perhaps well into the future.

If you have questions about implementing Telehealth with our services, we are happy to help!

How to deal with an angry customer on the phone – 10 steps

How to deal with an angry customer on the phone – 10 steps

If you work in customer service, chances are you’ve had at least one run-in with an angry customer on the phone. 

Believe it or not, with the proper tools, it is possible to turn a nasty situation with an angry customer into a positive outcome. As customer service experts, we have dealt with our share of difficult situations. These are our top 10 tips for turning a customer’s frown, upside down.

First up, listen.

In many cases, the customer just needs to get something off of their chest. Giving them the space to talk it out maybe enough to deescalate the situation. Make sure to offer constructive responses and to stay calm, even if the customer is getting heated. Really listening to what they have to say allows you to gain insight into the situation but also show genuine concern for their dissatisfaction.

Validate the problem

Whether the angry customer is in the right or not, they perceive themselves to be. Acknowledging their feelings can help to quickly bring down their emotion. Talking down to a customer or not taking their concerns seriously will only fuel their anger and will not help to resolve the issue.

Keep your emotions out of it

As difficult as it may be, try to keep your emotions low when dealing with an angry customer. You may have heard of the saying, “Emotions high, intelligence low”. When we are speaking from emotion, often we are not speaking rationally. The key is to separate yourself from their emotion. Treat them objectively, as a problem to be solved.

Practice pleasantries

Believe it or not, being pleasant is a skill. The best part is, it is a skill you can practice and master. Speak to yourself in the mirror in a pleasant tone. Respond to friends and family in a practiced tone. Most of all, remember to smile in your responses, which will automatically enhance your telephone tone and demeanour.

Get to the bottom of things

Figuring out what is actually bothering the angry customer will help to level the playing field quickly. Getting to the bottom of their discomfort will allow you to move into problem solving mode and hopefully resolve the issue.

Offer Solutions

While apologizing for the customer’s dissatisfaction is certainly recommended, offering solutions is also necessary. If possible, provide several options for the customer to consider. Having choice will give them control, which typically diffuses an angry situation quickly.

Avoid delays

If possible, avoid putting the customer on hold. Adding additional wait time will only make the situation worse. That said, sometimes you have to confer with others to solve a problem. In such cases, try to keep the customer on the line so they know you are working hard to find a solution.

Be Transparent

Trying to solve problems with lies or vague responses will not alleviate the situation. Instead, be clear, tell the truth and admit wrong doing if warranted. It can be tempting to simply tell the angry customer what they want to hear, but that will only lengthen the process. Find a real solution and if you’re unable to resolve it on the phone, find someone that can.

Find a way to relate to the situation

Having empathy for what the customer is going through will allow you to be considered relatable. Even if you don’t have a direct connection to the person or perhaps even the outcome, letting them know you understand their position will go a long way.

Know when to quit

If all else fails and the customer is still angry and aggressive, know when you’ve reached your limit. If you’ve gone through all of the above tips and the person refuses to calm down and continues to yell or speak rudely, it may be time to end the call. 

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! 

 

The key elements to excellent customer service

The key elements to excellent customer service

Some say great customer service is an art. Others say it comes down to a scientific mix of character traits. We think the key elements for success lie somewhere between the two. We have put together a comprehensive list of skills, that are both developable and observational in nature. Meaning, your team can start working on these skill sets without having a natural aptitude for customer service.

Patience
For many, when they reach out to a business with an inquiry, it is from a place of confusion and sometimes frustration. Answering numerous and often repetitive client requests requires patience. Patience in dealing with clients is one thing, patience with each other and for the core of the business overall is crucial to an efficient and high-functioning organization.

Communication
This one might seem fairly obvious but you’d be surprised how easily communication styles can be misconstrued. Having consistent communication guidelines in place for your team can eliminate gaps from representative to representative. Implementing language you would like your team to use and holding regular training and role-playing will ensure that clients always receive the same level of service when they interact with your company.

Attention to Detail
Listening is one of the most important concepts behind excellent customer service. Active listening; looking for cues ‘between the lines’ will make the difference between placating a client in the moment and building a loyal client relationship for life.

Knowledge
Knowing the product or service they’re selling/supporting should be second nature for customer service experts. However, without proper training, many front-line representatives are left without the proper tools. Encorporating product and service training and ideals into your onboarding process will ensure a consistent knowledge base for your front-line team.

The power of positivity
Training your team on the power of using positive language will make a huge difference in how clients feel. Specific training on reframing statements from a negative perspective to a positive perspective will have a huge impact. If you’re not sure where to start, this positive language starter guide is a great resource.

Keeping your cool
While being completely unflappable can be difficult in heated situations, the ability to do so can turn a situation around in a hurry. While most interactions will likely remain civil, there are certain situations where keeping your cool is the ultimate solution. Clients will mirror the demeanour of their representative and often need that structure to see that the situation is solvable. The saying ‘cooler heads prevail’ should be the motto for your client service team.

Empowered Work Force
Giving your client service team the autonomy to make decisions on the fly will allow them to solve problems quickly and efficiently. This sense of empowerment will also give your team the confidence they need to handle situations with ease and professionalism. With proper training and role-playing scenarios, you should feel confident that your team can make decisions that reflect the values and goals of the company as a whole. 

Always be Closing
Your customer service team should know that their main mandate when concluding a client interaction is their satisfaction. Clients should leave the conversation feeling that their needs have been met or will be as soon as possible. Your team should verbally acknowledge that this is their mandate and confirm with the client before ending the conversation that their needs have been met.

Changing Perspective
Having empathy for client concerns can turn a situation around quickly and efficiently. The ability to think from a different perspective will allow your team to see issues from another angle, often resulting in creative solutions that work for everyone.

Time Management
Your team should understand that there is an adequate amount of time to dedicate to each issue. Sticking to those boundaries will result in more efficient conversations and a clear course of action should things veer out of scope. Finding another resource and acknowledging the inability to help is the best course of action.

If your team is struggling to reach the level of client service you’d like, we can help, reach out if you’d like more information!

 

 

 

The science behind answering the phone with a smile

The science behind answering the phone with a smile

It may sound like a gimmick, but believe it or not, answering the phone with a smile makes a difference. Not only that, there are scientific reasons to back it up. We believe in this so much at Smiledog, we named our company based on this premise. Today on the blog, we’re going to identify how it works.

Smiling affects your vocal tone

The acoustic effects of a smile’s stretched lips on speech changes the tone of your voice. In fact, when you’re auditory smiling, your tone is upbeat and friendly. Often the effect is so obvious that you may not even realize it until you’re smiling yourself in response!

This response is so powerful that we train our Smile Team to start smiling before they even answer a call. Try it, you’ll find that regardless of what you say, if you say it with a smile, it will have a positive outcome.

Moods are contagious

Moods are as contagious as the common cold. Psychologists call this phenomenon emotional contagion. It is actually a three step process where one person’s feelings and demeanor transfer to another. The first stage is called non-conscious mimicry, where you mimic the other person’s actions, often subconsciously. Second, you experience the feedback from the action, meaning if you frowned you may feel sad and conversely, if you smiled, you may feel happy. Lastly, you begin to synchronize your emotions until the nonverbal cues of those around you physically alter your own behavioural state.

When customers call in a frustrated or angry state, greeting them with an upbeat and positive tone and demeanor can change the course of the call nearly instantaneously.

Smiling actually makes you happy

Having a bad day when you work in customer service just isn’t an option! That’s not to say it doesn’t happen from time to time. Research suggests that even forced smiles can boost your mood. A smile spurs a powerful chemical reaction in the brain that can make you feel happier. We encourage our team to smile before, during and after their calls. Hopefully they’re mostly genuine, but if needed, our team knows they can quickly boost their mood by forcing a smile, in most cases, it doesn’t take long before they’re smiling for real.

There you have it, smiling is a simple, but effective, action that can improve your mood and in our case, also improve the experience that your customer receives. If you’re not convinced, give it a try and see for yourself how powerful a simple smile really is.