7 Phone Answering Services for Small Businesses

If you’re a small business owner, you likely spend a great deal of time on the phone. There are numerous calls to manage, including calls from vendors, suppliers, and so on.

Among those will be calls that will waste your precious time. And with the time you put into running and growing your business, you can’t waste energy on frivolous calls.

For this reason, many small business owners turn to a phone answering service for help. At their very most basic level, these services can be configured to handle incoming calls that you may not have the capacity to handle on your own, whether they come during the busy hours of the day or after you’ve closed up in the evening.

These services will not only make it easier for you to manage your phone traffic, but they also afford you greater opportunities in terms of client acquisition and retention.

The services don’t stop at merely taking extra calls during or after hours either – there are numerous phone answering services that benefit small businesses in particular. Here, we’ll review seven of them:

1. Virtual Receptionist Services

The first phone answering service, and among the most commonly used, is the virtual receptionist. This service essentially gives you all the same benefits of an in-house receptionist with none of the drawbacks—namely underutilization and high salary.

The purpose of a receptionist is to represent your business to callers, take down important information, and ultimately help customers. They take messages, transfer calls, and make sure there is a live human being on the line to assist callers.

Most businesses handle this through an in-house employee, but that means managing extra people who may not be fully utilized throughout the course of a day.

A virtual receptionist, on the other hand, costs less than an employee, and can even be written off your taxes as a business expense rather than adding to payroll taxes. They are highly efficient, highly flexible, and—by virtue of the way the service works—don’t take breaks or miss calls.

2. Order Taking and Processing

For businesses that take and fulfill orders, order processing operations can take up an exorbitant amount of company time, particularly if the orders come over the phone.

That time can be much better spent focusing on tasks that are more closely aligned with growing your business and fulfilling key operations, which is why order processing is often part of phone answering services.

Through these services, the phone agents who act as part of your phone answering services take orders and payment information and submit that data to your website or fulfillment house. This is all handled securely while providing your customers the best possible service.

3. Appointment Setting

Another key function that small businesses rely on is appointment setting. Whether you’re a medical practice seeing patients throughout the day, a consultant meeting with various clients on a regular basis, or a contractor who needs someone to schedule estimates, you need to make sure your schedule is well managed and doesn’t result in wasted time.

Handling appointment setting through phone answering services takes away the stress and hassle of managing that schedule on your own.

You no longer have to worry about canceled appointments creating gaps in your schedule or double-booking errors that diminish the quality of your services, plus the cost to set appointments goes down.

These services can easily be synchronized to your calendar software, and you can even set it up to receive notifications and reminders through your smartphone or email. In the event that someone cancels, they will quickly let you know and strive to fill the gap as promptly as possible.

4. Time and Attendance Tracking

Phone answering services aren’t reserved only for the customer service side of your business. They can help you better manage your employees’ attendance as well. Employee time and attendance tracking services allow you to better adapt to employee absences and avoid unnecessary downtime.

When your employees call in to report that they will be late or absent, the call is recorded, which can help prevent disputes later on, and data on attendance is taken down, helping you make more informed decisions about fulfilling upcoming shifts, making changes in personnel, and keeping production rates up where you need them.

Attendance tracking services have saved companies millions over the years by helping them keep productivity rates up and avoid issues with order fulfillment, company operations, and so forth.

5. Customer and Technical Support

Customers call in for a variety of reasons and they often need support with your products or services. These calls can require thorough expertise on an issue, such as technical support.

Phone answering services provide additional technical and customer support to your clientele, which can save you a great deal of time.

For instance, suppose there is one question that customers have about a product or online service you provide. You inevitably have people call every day about this particular issue, and it is always resolvable with the same answer.

With customer and technical support services, you don’t need to spend hours each day handling these calls. Instead, those are handled through your service provider while you have the more complex issues passed on to you as needed.

6. Emergency Message Dispatching

Small clinics, dentist offices, and other medical practices often have their patients call in with emergency problems.

Having someone on the line to take their calls is absolutely vital to making sure they get the help they need. But, so is making sure their plight is made known to an expert who can give adequate treatment.

Many emergencies require on-call specialists, and it may not always be easy to reach them. Setting up an emergency dispatching system within your practice through your phone answering service provider will be instrumental in making sure you are notified of urgent calls.

These services typically consist of setting up emergency reaching instructions through the service provider along with secondary instructions if the first attempt goes unanswered. The ultimate result is making sure you can help your patients who are in urgent need and retaining their trust.

7. Lead Capture

Growing a business requires increasing your clientele, and that requires generating more leads. But, generating more leads is just the first step. Ensuring you capture those leads and deliver a great first impression is critical to winning the business.

This can be difficult if you have too many people calling during the course of a day or when they call after hours and reach an answering machine. If that person calls and can’t reach you – or gets stuck in voicemail – that’s most likely a deal breaker.

Phone answering services can help small businesses capture leads by providing a live person on the line whenever potential customers call.

From there, they can ask qualifying questions to make sure they are viable leads and send that information along, either by forwarding the call to your sales team or taking down their information and sending it to you.

Boost Your Small Business Today With Phone Answering Services

Each of these services are designed to help you minimize the costs of running your business and ultimately facilitate growth. To learn more about these phone answering services and others, contact Keener Communications today at 804-200-5696.