Answering services for small businesses in the USA

Why Every Small Business Needs An Answering Service:

 

Running a small business is no easy task. It requires intense focus, an insane amount of effort, many, many sacrifices and a whole lot of organisation. But if you're here, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, right? Dotting every ‘I' and crossing every ‘T' falls to you and that responsibility can feel overwhelming. There's a lot to be across at all times and if you drop the ball, it can have real impact, especially when you're newly figuring out how to find your footing. That's why every small business, in my opinion needs an answering service.

Now, if you're sitting there wondering what on earth an answering service is, don't worry. you've come to the right place for some answers. First of all, from a sales pitch standpoint, I guess you should know that they're an incredibly popular tool at the moment for managing stress, keeping things organised and giving your business the best shot possible for it thrive in the extremely cut-throat competitive climate of today. They will make your life infinitely easier.

At a more literal level though, an answering service is when your business's calls are answered and handled by someone externally. OK, I realise that the concept of ‘external' employees might be a little confusing and worrying for some of you; how will I stay in the loop? How will I make sure they best represent my business? Doesn't this mean sacrificing control and by extension, quality?

No, it doesn't. Not in the slightest. All it means is that the people behind the answering service, which is a cost-effective alternative to an in-house receptionist by the way, don't answer the phones from inside your office. They do it remotely, often from home or other places that are convenient for them. Importantly, your customers will never have to know the difference because there can be customised scripts put in place with exactly what you'd want them to say in any given event, so it sounds as though they're speaking right from your office. It's the company line.

Not only that, but you can request to be sent a daily rundown of anything important you need to know, such as who called and what they wanted to discuss. This increases your ability to still have control over your business's narrative and maintain some version of the all important hands on approach with your customers without having too much on your plate which you all know is the most important relationship in your business.

It's the relationship that could essentially make or break you. Giving your customers a good service experience is a sure fire way to gain their repeat business and have them encourage friends to go with you, thanks to the power of and credibility given to word of mouth. With an answering service onboard, your customers will never associate you with the damning frustration of not dealing with a human being on the other end of their query or need. Having someone there who can respond to them in real time and with humanity and nuance, that can adjust accordingly depending on their needs is an invaluable advantage in keeping them satisfied. These are extremely vital tools for keeping a small business afloat; good customer service will do wonders for your reputation and could end up being the deciding factor for someone between your business and the competition.

An answering service can obviously handle everything to do with calls, from answering and making them to smooth and effective transfers but they can also send and reply to emails and schedule appointments for you and your team. If your customers have queries or questions they'd like answered, an answering service can do that too. They're also adept at using web-chat services for communication if that's something your business provides.

According to our own internal research here at Ivy Answering, someone in a standard managerial role, or the equivalent whatever your business's structure, will spend a surprising 25% of their time on admin tasks. Unfortunately, while they do that, even if they're aware of the importance of talking to and dealing with customers in the right way, some things will slip through the cracks. That's inevitable and it's definitely the nature of the beast in a small business environment when you have so many balls to juggle and a million things to think about and keep straight in your head, even while you're doing something else.

This is where an answering service can be the saving grace and the ace in your back pocket. Their only job is to focus on the admin side of things so in a best case scenario, no one slips through the cracks. No one's question is left unanswered and hopefully no call is left unattended. Of course, there's still room for human error but we can report that across the board, Ivy Answering has seen great satisfaction from its clients who've invested in an answering service. Things are running smoother and people are less stressed which has created a more comfortable working environment for everybody involved.

It's no secret that if a person isn't stressed and their workload feels manageable, then they're more likely to enjoy coming to work which means they're healthier and happier. Using an answering service is doing your other current employees an incredible service as it gives them room to breathe and focus as well as some much needed space to be creative and free thinking. It is this space, to be creative and fresh with ideas that allows small businesses to expand, because without the burden of admin, people are free to focus on other priorities. This is of course assuming that expansion is the unspoken goal of pretty much every small business in the game. Answering services are equipped to handle the increased volume that comes with expansion, they can be run by sole individuals or multiple person teams.

Throughout this article, I've made a couple of quick references to the fact that an answering service is cheaper and more cost-effective than an answering service. It feels important to explore that a bit further as let's face it, money will really determine whether an answering service is a viable option for you. The main reason an answering service is cheaper than an in-house receptionist is because the role avoids overhead costs. There's no furniture (desk or chair for example) or stationary needed and nothing to be maintained or looked after. On top of that, the people behind an answering service are considered to be employees on a wage, which works out cheaper than paying salaried employees and all their extras.

Here at Ivy Answering, our payment plans operate on the principle that you pay a small monthly retainer and then receive a set number of calls free of charge for the month. After you exceed that number, it becomes a system of paying a small fee for every additional call. To give you an example, our most popular plan is the “Virtual Receptionist 25” where you pay a retainer of $55 per month and receive 25 calls free of charge in return. From there, if you exceed 25 calls, you pay $2 per extra call and this rate remains fixed no matter the length of the call, which can't be said for all of our competitors. They often appear cheap at first glance and then hit you with hidden costs later, which can really add up and demand more than you bargained or budgeted for. There's also the risk that a cheap service equates to a lack of quality. We can proudly say Ivy Answering doesn't follow that business model in any way and is always upfront with how much things cost so you're prepared and have all of the information. We are also sticklers for quality and demand the best of our employees who will not be given the job without proper training and clear communication skills. In fact, if, when you're researching which of our plans fits your business best and you don't feel there's a clear winner that suits you, we're more than happy to work with you and find a mutually beneficial solution.

We offer a free 7day trial with no locked in contracts or obligations. Obviously, we'd love you to stay with us and stick around but if things don't work out or you realise we're not the best fit for you and your business, you can opt out pain-free. It's also worth noting that should your business's needs change while you're working with us, your answering service plan can be easily upgraded or downgraded as needed.

I think I've made it pretty clear as to why your small business should definitely engage an answering service. It makes life better for your employees, it's cheaper and flexible with proven results in quality, customer satisfaction and other vital metrics I talked about earlier.

If you're interested in working with us or learning more, call us on 866-833-3356 or send us an email info@ivyanswer.com.

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