Phone Answering Service: Do You Need One?

by Small Business Planned

If you’re a small business service provider or someone that’s constantly on the go, being contactable is a key area of your business. If your customers can’t reach you, your level of trust and professionalism will suffer and they’ll be less likely to refer new business to you. And if prospects can’t contact you, they’ll spend their money with a competitor and you miss your important first sale. Ouch. Enter the phone answering service. I’m going to explain how this service rocks and how it beats any of the alternatives for small business service providers.

What’s a Phone Answering Service?

A phone answering service is a paid service that has an external company remotely answer telephone calls that are incoming to your small business. The external company will answer incoming phone calls as if they are part of your business and then answer basic questions, make bookings or pass on messages directly to you either by email of SMS. So in short, a phone answering service will take care of all you incoming calls and send any actions to you via an agreed channel. This frees you up to concentrate on other areas of your business.

phone-answering-service

A Phone Answering Service Will Improve You Business

Can’t I Just be Contactable on My Mobile Phone?

Sure that’s an option. An option that many small business owners take. Everyone’s got a mobile phone, but you need to realise that these present some negatives both to your customers and yourself. These include:

  • Mobile phones are more expensive for your customers to call. This increase in cost can put prospective customers off, especially if they believe they are going to engage you in an extended conversation
  • Having a mobile phone number as your sole method of communication can paint your small business as being less trust worthy or more amateurish than other more established businesses. A local phone number provides more trust and a feeling that this business is solid and will be easy to deal with if difficulties arise
  • When answering your mobile phone, you could be anywhere. There’s a good chance that you won’t have your essential business tools nearby to answer questions that arise. This may come across as unprofessional and disorganised
  • Again, as you may answer your mobile phone anywhere, the background ambiance may distract from the conversation. You could be in a noisy area which makes key details of the conversation hard to hear. Let alone jotting down notes on a piece of paper that you haven’t got.
  • Yes phone reception is getting better, but there are still pockets of the country which can drop out or render you uncontactable. Good bye service
  • Listing your mobile phone number means that people could call you 24/7. Now that’s annoying

Can I Just Hire a Receptionist?

Yes by all means. And a lot of small business owners do. Receptionists are a good option because the receptionist will answer your calls and sort out the details on your behalf. They can also perform other duties essential to the ongoing health of the business. But with this benefit comes cost. A receptionst adds a significant cost to the running of your business. For small business owners that are just starting out, this cost is often unpalatable. Who can afford an extra couple of hundred dollars a week? Ouch. This increases your break even point. And whats more, a receptionist can’t answer calls every minute of the day. A receptionist is a fantastic option for established businesses, however small businesses that are just starting out, simply can’t afford it.

All in Favour of a Phone Answering Service

So how do we maximise the benefits of a fulltime receptionist, but minimise the cost? The answer is with a virtual receptionist. I’ve been involved with a small business that has used a virtual receptionist for about two years. The service pays for itself in the first two days of the month, by answering sales calls that would otherwise be missed. And best of all, it costs a fraction of a full time employee. About $300 or so per month, depending on the number of calls you receive. And that’s for 24 hour service. I genuinely believe more small businesses should use them.

There are a number of companies and solo providers who offer virtual receptionist services. If you’re just starting out, differentiating between each offering can be confusing. For this reason I recommend you read my article on selecting the best phone answering service for your small business.

Growing your small business,

David Moloney
Small Business Planned

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9 thoughts on “Phone Answering Service: Do You Need One?

  1. Jackie Stenhouse

    Having a phone answering service certainly seems the cheapest alternative. I know my mother won’t ring anyone who has a mobile phone listed as she is worried about cost and it is so frustrating when you can’t get hold of someone when they are out of service.

    Reply
    1. David Moloney Post author

      Cheers Jackie. I shy away from ringing mobile phones myself, if I can help it. You’re ‘on the meter’, which doesn’t help you relax and take your time. Mind you, if you’ve got a mobile phone plan with a large limit this isn’t as much of a hassle

      Reply
  2. Lisa Wood

    Hello David,

    I like how the service can take the calls for you, and free up ones time to keep going in the business!! It sure sounds like a great way for small business to run – and far cheaper than hiring a receptionist

    Cheers
    Lisa

    Reply
    1. David Moloney Post author

      Yes it is a great system. It’s not a full on alternative to a receptionist, as nothing beats someone that’s actually there with local knowledge – but it’s a close second

      Reply
  3. Leo Bookham

    Hi David, you make a very convincing point. The funny thing is I thought I knew what an answering service was but I knew nothing! Thank you for enlightening me.

    Reply
  4. Caroline Labour

    Hi David,

    My husband and I run a catering business and we have considered getting some help with answering calls. I’d heard of mailboxes for leaving messages but didn’t realize that it was possible to have someone answer your sales call. I’m looking forward to reading more about this in your next post.

    Thanks,
    Caroline

    Reply
    1. David Moloney Post author

      Thanks Caroline. To be honest I didn’t know about the industry prior to joining up a few years ago. I was after a virtual assistant, but then stumbled across this whole niche industry. It was a great find. Stay tuned for my full list of what to look for in a good phone answering service.

      Reply
  5. Carolyn

    It’s all about finding what’s best for your business. A phone answering service sounds like a great idea, to help keep costs down. Not everyone has a mobile phone and is happy to use one.

    Reply
  6. Wil Porter

    David,
    Thank you for calling attention to a wonderful “niche” industry. Answering services have been around almost as long as the phone. Our industry is very strong and still growing even during these challenging times. If you are looking for more information on the services provided or the history of this industry i am happy to help. wporter@ansaphone.com or you can call me direct at 617-328-7300. Our industry is also represented by an association. http://www.atsi.org. More information can be found there as well.
    Thanks again and i look forward to future posts

    Reply

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