AnswerNow's Call Center Blog

Live Virtual Receptionist Services: Do They Matter?

Posted by John Black on Aug 16, 2017 6:05:00 AM

A 2014 Forbes study revealed that 80% of callers hang up when confronted with voicemail, and that number has probably gone up in the intervening years. Why is this the case? It could have something to do with the fact that actually reaching voicemail is so unlikely these days.

While plenty of individuals and businesses still have voicemail simply because it is provided as part of standard phone services, few people actually utilize their voicemail. When a missed call pops up, people generally just call back and ignore the voicemail, which is perhaps why so many people fail to leave messages. Why bother when no one is listening to them?

As a business owner, this should concern you if you still rely on voicemail to interact with customers during off-hours or when your call volume is too high for your phone lines to handle. How many patrons or prospective customers are calling and failing to leave a message? How many calls are you missing and how many clients could you lose in the process?

There is a solution. You could turn to a 24/7 answering service to field after-hours calls for you. That said, there is a big difference between a messaging service and a live virtual receptionist service. What can a live virtual receptionist offer that voicemail and messaging services can't? Here are some of the benefits you and your customers stand to gain when you choose a 24/7 call center populated by live virtual receptionists.

Immediate Assistance

Customers call your business because they have a need you can meet or a problem you can solve. When you fail to answer the phone or provide a means of immediate assistance, they're going to be understandably disappointed, frustrated, and generally disgruntled about your lack of suitable customer service.

A round-the-clock live virtual receptionist service means that someone is always available to answer customer calls, and that there won't be any wait time. A voicemail or messaging service, on the other hand, simply isn't as accommodating. Even if callers are able to reach a live person willing to take a message and pass it along, customers still have to wait for a call-back, with no idea of when it might come.

Suppose a client is calling a lawyer from jail and ends up having to spend the night because he/she couldn't get through. What if a client's HVAC goes on the fritz during a heat wave and residents have to suffer intense temperatures until morning? What if a business client is under ransomware attack or is experiencing downtime with a website?

These customers need some form of immediate assistance, and if you want to retain their business, you need to provide it. Otherwise they might go looking for a more accommodating competitor that has the resources to meet their needs.

Customer Importance

Is the customer always right? This used to be a common mantra, but these days it seems anathema to corporate concerns. Don't think consumers haven't noticed, either. Businesses often complain about the fickle nature of the consumer public, but the truth is, when you treat people well and provide for their needs, they're going to reward you with ongoing patronage, and even referrals and positive reviews. Customers just want to be treated like they matter, and hiring live virtual receptionists is a great way to prove you care about the customer experience.

For one thing, a 24 7 answering service is convenient. Most consumers work the same 9-to-5 schedule during which your business is open, and this can make it difficult for them to call in with questions and concerns during standard business hours.

When you utilize a call center that is capable of addressing customer needs during off-hours, you're proving your commitment to meeting customer needs and providing the best possible service. Whether you run an HVAC service, a legal office, a dental practice, or tech support, your customers expect a level of availability, reliability, and customer care. You can deliver very simply by providing a live human being to pick up the line when they call.

When you treat consumers right, you're not only going to see high levels of customer retention, but probably also increases in referrals that can help your business to grow, not to mention a strong reputation for excellence. Live virtual receptionist services help to ensure customers remain satisfied with your business even when you're off the clock.

Training

If you utilize a live message service, you might as well be using voicemail for all the benefit your customers will gain. These operators may be a friendly voice on the line, which gives them a decided advantage over an impersonal answering machine or automated message system, but they're really just glorified voicemail.

True, customers calling in and speaking to a live person are more likely to leave a message, whereas those who reach voicemail are probably going to hang up. However, your business can offer them a lot more with an answering service that actually works with your business to provide customers with the same expert advice and assistance you might offer.

Naturally, operators at a third-party call center can't know everything you do, with your years of education and experience in your field, but they can work with the information you give them, such as common fixes for FAQs. You can select a service that is already familiar with your industry, for starters, and then work with them to create fact sheets and troubleshooting guides that will help operators to address basic customer questions and concerns. You can seek a service that has a staff dedicated to problem-solving, patience, and etiquette to ensure that even the most frustrated customers come out of the experience feeling cared for.

If all else fails, calls can be escalated to on-call service providers, or operators can schedule a call-back or appointment for customers to meet with service professionals in your business. When customers encounter a call center operator that is not only friendly, but also knowledgeable, there's a good chance they'll have a positive experience, whether they receive the help they need, their call is routed on to a more experienced professional, or they receive a call-back later on.

Topics: Virtual Reception

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