What is a telephone answering service and what are the benefits?

Posted on: 19th December 2022

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From social media to chatbots, the number of ways in which customers communicate with businesses is on the rise. Despite this, 60% of customers still prefer to contact businesses via phone, showing us that phone calls remain one of the most valued channels of communication, especially in times of crisis. This is why your business needs to provide a high-quality 24/7 call answering service. To help you learn more about telephone answering services and how they can provide value to your business, we’ve pulled together some of the main advantages of call answering services and detailed how they could benefit your business.

What is a telephone answering service?

A phone answering service acts on behalf of your business to professionally answer calls and take messages. Depending on the agreement in place a virtual answering service may deal with basic customer enquiries, forward calls to the necessary contact, or take messages to pass on to you when you are available. Live answering services are usually made up of a team of virtual receptionists that work across several businesses which means you can reap the benefits of having a full-time receptionist at a fraction of the cost. 

Why would a business use a phone answering service?

Different businesses will use a telephone answering service for different purposes. For example, a start-up may consist of staff members whose main focuses are generating revenue and growing the business. This could mean staff are travelling frequently to attend meetings and conduct pitches meaning someone isn’t always available to answer the phone. This is where a virtual answering service would be beneficial as the service could ensure that a message is taken and passed onto staff members when they are available. An SME may not have enough resources to hire a dedicated member of staff to answer calls, as a telephone answering service costs less than hiring a dedicated receptionist. Instead, opting for a call handling service would allow them to never miss a call while working within their budgets. 

Increase in productivity

As a business owner you’re responsible for completing a wide range of tasks at any one time. From reporting to marketing, arranging meetings and sales - the list of responsibilities is endless. The problem with multitasking is that it can harm your productivity, the ‘ramp-down and ramp-up effect is the time you spend getting back into a flow state after switching between tasks. By having a virtual receptionist deal with your calls they can filter unimportant calls, deal with customer enquiries and notify you of any important messages. This allows you to maintain your concentration and complete your most important tasks more efficiently.

24/7 customer service:

24/7 call answering comes with a multitude of benefits, some of which are obvious and some of which are not so obvious. The most obvious benefit of 24/7 call answering services is that they show your customer that you are truly committed to helping them. An around-the-clock point of contact allows you to be geographically flexible, this is more relevant now than ever, as the development of e-commerce and the internet means that we are living in an increasingly borderless world. The reduction in borders between geographies means that a high number of new businesses today start out targeting international customers which is why being geographically flexible is essential. Phone calls don’t stop after business hours, having an after-hours answering service can make sure you don’t miss any important messages.

Reduce overheads

The average salary for a receptionist is £19,000 per year (UK) and $33,613 per year in the United States. If a business were to hire a full-time member of staff to answer phone calls, not only would you have to cover salary costs, but you may also need to cover additional costs such as upgrading the phone system to allow the receptionist to complete their job. In comparison to the figure above , buying a virtual office in London costs 10% of what it would cost to hire a receptionist, with services ranging between £540 - £2,268 per year.

For many businesses, especially start-ups and SMEs, managing rising costs and hiring suitable candidates are two of the largest challenges they face, so taking on the additional cost associated with hiring extra employees may not be an option.

A business phone answering service offers you the flexibility to cater to any fluctuations your business may see in demand for phone calls. You can easily scale up capacity to cater to busier periods and scale down in quieter periods - this is something that would be a challenge to do with a full-time employee.

Professional brand image at all times

When a client or prospective customer calls your business, they will have no idea that they are speaking to a business handling service. Virtual receptionists are trained to act as an extension of your internal team so you can ensure your brand image is maintained at all times. Business answering services also allow you to have a landline number, which helps your business look more professional and enhances credibility.

Build customer relationships

Research suggests that 61% of customers prefer to speak to someone over the phone when they are seeking assistance, while 75% believe that calling a business will lead to a quicker response time.  Satisfying customer expectations and preferences are the foundation for building solid customer relationships. Businesses that offer a phone answering service can provide customers with the personal service they desire. A personalised service is something that again helps develop customer relationships - research shows us that 80% of customers are more likely to purchase from businesses that provide personalised services.

Customisable plans and services

Our professional answering services are available as part of our Virtual Office and Virtual Office Plus plans, offering services from basical phone answering services, to transferring calls and message taking. Telephone answering services are just one of the benefits of our virtual office plans. Our virtual office services also include the use of a professional business address, mail forwarding services, administrative support, and access to global business lounges to help you build a credible presence anywhere in the world. Interested in learning more about virtual offices? Have a look at our guide to virtual offices to find out how a virtual office can support your business.

Answering services for small businesses

Around 60% of small businesses in the UK fail in their first three years. As identified by CB Insights some of the main reasons for small businesses failing in their first three years are:

1. Running out of cash

2. Being outcompeted

3. Burnout

Answering services are a great option for SMEs and startups specifically as they can help to resolve all of the issues identified above. For a competitive price, call handling can help you to balance your workload to help prevent burn out and ensure your customers receive a consistently high level of customer service which can help to give you a competitive advantage against your competitors.

Whether you want a telephone answering service to increase productivity or to give your business a competitive edge, our dedicated team can help you to find the best virtual office solution. By talking through your businesses’ needs with us, we can make sure that your virtual package is giving you all the support you need, so you can focus on taking your team and work to the next level. Click here to contact us and find the right solution for you.

Topics in this article

  • Work Trends


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