In our series of articles dedicated to digital transformation we seek to identify technologies and tools to improve business efficiency, especially in the IoT world. Here we look at virtual receptionist solutions for a small business.
The real life of small businesses
When you’re a small business owner any time you spend away from completing customer work or finding new clients could be money lost.
And when cashflow is king, that’s not good.
There are lots of things – particularly admin – to juggle when running a small business.
Booking meetings, managing your diary and dealing with incoming calls (which are even more annoying when they’re unsolicited sales or spam calls) are just some of the things pulling you away from revenue generating tasks.
But it would be expensive to invest in a resource to take all this off your hands, wouldn’t it?
You’d have to hire a receptionist, wouldn’t you? And that comes with it’s own challenges.
Like dealing with payroll, taxes, holiday pay, sick pay and everything else.
Not if you hired a virtual receptionist.
Although you may think virtual receptionists are for larger organisations dealing with dozens and hundreds of calls a day, they’re incredibly beneficial for smaller businesses too, and can help you accelerate your growth, it that’s the goal.
At the very least, they can take a lot of the stress out of your day and free you up to focus on the most important parts of your business – your customers.
In this blog, Andy MacGregor, MD at virtual receptionist provider Face For Business, outlines how this investment can be good for small businesses.
Professionalise your small business call management
Despite all the ways customers can contact a business today, the phone remains the favoured option with 60% of customers when getting in touch with a small business.
Missing calls is costly too.
The average missed call costs a business around £1,200 according to BT Business.
So call answering is among your main priorities as a small business.
But it’s not always easy, or possible, to answer the phone in a small business.
Especially if you’re a micro-business and are dealing with a customer, or are in a meeting when your phone rings.
A virtual receptionist can take over the management of your incoming calls.
They’ll ensure all calls are answered professionally and quickly.
A virtual receptionist can either take detailed messages to be passed on and dealt with by you later.
They can transfer calls to the right member of your team (whether they’re working in the office or remote) or, they can even deal with some basic customer enquiries directly.
Create a virtual switchboard
As a small business you’ll no doubt be trying to keep control of your overheads.
Today that could mean not investing in a fixed office space and operating a remote business, or perhaps using a shared office space that you use occasionally.
Either way, you may not have a single fixed office location but still need a single office number so customers can easily contact you, and then forward these calls to your employees’ business phones.
Virtual receptionists fit perfectly into this new, more modern, method of working.
You can connect your main office number to a virtual receptionist so customers still have a single point of contact, but you won’t need to invest in the office space for the receptionist to work – because they’re already remote.
Your virtual receptionist can then forward calls to any number you want, making it perfect for small businesses looking to take advantage of more flexible working.
Take calls away from untrained members of staff
There’s a lot riding on the professionalism of your call answering.
Around 40% of customers will expect to be able to speak to a real person if they need a complex issue resolved, according to research by American Express.
Around two thirds of customers will switch companies because of a poor experience, according to Accenture.
A quarter will give up if they’re kept on hold for too long and go somewhere else, according to NewVoice.
So it’s worrying that more than three quarters of employees say they’ve had no training and don’t feel confident dealing with customer calls.
A virtual receptionist can take this stress away from your employees and remove the risk of losing customers or seeing complaints escalate because of a poor experience on the phone.
Reduce the number of spam calls you get
It’s inevitable when you start a small business that you’ll eventually be bombarded with unsolicited sales calls from providers offering you everything from better rates on your business’ internet, to recruiters, to stationary and office supplies.
Sometimes you’ll need these services. Most of the time you won’t.
Dealing with these calls can be a strain on your time and resources, taking your focus off your business and customers.
A virtual receptionist can be a barrier between you and these calls.
If you prefer, your virtual receptionist can even have you removed from these sales lists, reducing the number of nuisance calls you receive in the long run.
Get your diary management off your hands
Keeping on top of your diary as a small business owner can be a full-time job.
Booking and preparing for meetings, rescheduling appointments (which is never easy when you’re busy) and trying to navigate multiple diaries to find time for a call is a real hassle, and none of it is directly generating revenue.
Not to mention the problems you can find yourself in when you accidentally double book your time when you agree to a meeting on a call without checking your diary first.
With a virtual receptionist you’ll never have this problem.
They can deal with booking all your appointments and keeping on top of your diary for you and your team.
If someone needs to rearrange a meeting, your virtual receptionist will be able to sort that for you.
You’ll get real-time updates and notifications of any changes to your diary so you’ll know what’s happening with your day, without needing to deal directly with any admin.
And because your diary can be synced to your virtual receptionist’s booking systems, you’ll never need to worry about your time being double booked.
If you have specific hours in the day you want to keep free, you can block these out.
Get more hands on with your business’ future and more hands off your admin
Time is money in any business, but especially in a small business when everything is focused on creating cashflow.
Answering calls is a big part of your business’ success and you can’t run the risk of missing calls or customers being treated unprofessionally when you’re in a rush.
A virtual receptionist can help you get hands off with your business’ admin and get more hands on with helping customers and growing your company.
All without the excess spending that comes with hiring full-time or part-time employees.