Cookie Preference Centre

Your Privacy
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Performance Cookies
Functional Cookies
Targeting Cookies

Your Privacy

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences, your device or used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually identify you directly, but it can give you a more personalized web experience. You can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, you should know that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on the site and the services we are able to offer.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site may not work then.

Cookies used

ContactCenterWorld.com

Performance Cookies

These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources, so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. If you do not allow these cookies, we will not know when you have visited our site.

Cookies used

Google Analytics

Functional Cookies

These cookies allow the provision of enhance functionality and personalization, such as videos and live chats. They may be set by us or by third party providers whose services we have added to our pages. If you do not allow these cookies, then some or all of these functionalities may not function properly.

Cookies used

Twitter

Facebook

LinkedIn

Targeting Cookies

These cookies are set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant ads on other sites. They work by uniquely identifying your browser and device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will not experience our targeted advertising across different websites.

Cookies used

LinkedIn

This site uses cookies and other tracking technologies to assist with navigation and your ability to provide feedback, analyse your use of our products and services, assist with our promotional and marketing efforts, and provide content from third parties

OK
Become a Basic Member for free. Click Here

A Better Answer - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

5 Ways To Give More Personalized Customer Service

Standing out among your competitors is no longer about having cool branding or witty content — it’s about the whole customer experience.

The customer service your prospects and customers receive has a significant effect on your business. A negative interaction can make prospects write you off, while positive experiences can garner lifelong brand loyalty.

Businesses must provide a high-quality customer experience, and that involves every stage from beginning to end.

One way to stand out is by delivering more personalized customer service. Let’s take a look at how your company can provide it.

Address Customers by Their Name

A well-rounded and positive customer service experience boils down to the details.

While calling a prospect or current customer might seem like a minuscule detail, it makes all the difference.

Studies show that hearing your name stimulates brain activity.

Saying a prospect’s name when you are talking to them or greeting a current customer by name will help build a strong personalized customer experience.

If you or your team don’t know the customer’s name, try your best to find it out. Check caller IDs, past receipts, or your client database if you have a moment. 

Using a client’s name helps build a strong relationship, shows that your business cares about its customers, and makes them feel like you’re on their side.

Offer Multiple Customer Service Channels

A Better Answer(R) is to provide a personalized customer service experience and offer your support through many different channels.

Each person — whether they’re a client or a prospect — has a preferred method of communication. In-person communication is limited in the digital age; plus, COVID-19 has kept more people at home. To cater to your target audience’s preferences and hindrances, your customer support team should be available via text, chat, call and email. Your customers should have every possible opportunity to get in touch with your business. 

While many customers (48% to be exact) still prefer to call over the phone for customer support, the next preferred communication methods are text and chat.

Offer chatbots, contact forms, social media support, review forms, phone service, and email to get in touch with your customers — this way, your customer can choose the channel of communication that suits them best.

It’s also important to provide the right equipment and tools to enable your customer support team to thrive. Make sure you’ve implemented an easy-to-use customer relationship management system and filled in staffing gaps.

Rely on Customer Feedback and Preferences

Learning what your customers like and dislike is one of the best ways to gather feedback on your customer service experience.

Using customer feedback will allow you to see where your experiences fall short and need to be improved. On the other hand, it will also let you know where you’re doing a great job.

Guessing this information or assuming you know what your audience wants is not reliable. Try to gather data before making any changes to your processes. You can collect this information by offering a short survey after each customer service call or chat. Then, set up a review schedule, and be sure to request a formal survey when a client is offboarded or leaves a negative review online.

Finding what caused a negative experience, what kept a customer coming back and what would improve their experience is the best way to locate and diagnose problems in your customer service department.

Make sure you have the appropriate time and infrastructure in place to handle your support channels as well. For instance, if you are continuously receiving an influx of chat tickets, but you only have a few people answering phone calls and ignoring chat, it’s in your best interest to change employee responsibilities or outsource help. You can do this by hiring a virtual assistant or a company to help you handle your customer service.

Add a Human Touch

As our society has moved into a highly digital age dependent on automation, companies often forget that a human touch is the secret ingredient to satisfactory customer service. 

Customers and prospects don’t want to feel like they are talking to a robot or a frustrating automated system.

When communicating with current or potential customers, try to be engaging and give hints of normal human interactions, like asking how their day has been. If they mention a pet, try asking what the pet’s name is or what kind of breed it is.

On the flip side, make sure your staff has the emotional intelligence and experience to know when a customer is upset and needs a speedy resolution. When this happens, friendly chit-chat is not always advised. Your customer service should adapt to the preferences and demeanor of the customer.

Instead of relying on scripts, provide a situational outline for your employees to reference to produce more organic dialogue.

Try offering a friendly and personalized greeting, giving compliments, and ending the interaction on a positive note.

Highlight and Reward Customer Loyalty

Highlighting customer loyalty will encourage other customers to practice that same brand loyalty.

Your company can highlight customer loyalty through social media posts, customer testimonial videos, and reviews.

To reward your most loyal customers, offer them discounts, first peeks at new products, exclusives and free trials. Recognizing your customers will improve your customer lifetime value.

Benefits of Personalized Customer Service

Adopting a personalized customer service experience offers many benefits, such as increases in:

  • Customer loyalty
  • Customer engagement 
  • Customer retention
  • Customer lifetime value

A high-quality support experience will also allow you to gather more data from your customers regarding their communication preferences and thoughts on your support process. 

Adopt a More Personalized Customer Experience

A personalized customer service experience will help you retain customers and stand out from your competitors.

To implement an exemplary support service, make sure you address your customer by name to show they are not just a number, provide multiple channels to reach you through and add a human touch to every interaction.

Once you take time to implement a unique and personalized customer service process, you will see a boost in customer satisfaction. If you don’t have time to carry out these changes, hiring an answering service might be a better answer for your needs.

Publish Date: February 20, 2021


How Hiring a Virtual Assistant Can Help Your Business During COVID-19

The pandemic has thrown everyone for a loop.

Especially businesses.

Many industries are struggling to handle the influx of calls or having trouble finding a way to increase cold calls with their current infrastructure. Hiring a business development specialist or a full-time administrative assistant is costly, but hiring a virtual assistant will free up your team for more important tasks and scale your business while keeping your budget intact.

How Hiring a Virtual Assistant Can Help Your Business During COVID-19

The Role of a Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant (VA) is a person who works remotely and provides support services to a business. Typically, they are hired to take on administrative and receptionist duties, but many can also help with support tickets, perform administrative tasks, and update CRM systems.

Whatever your business needs, you will be able to find a qualified virtual assistant to help with your endeavors. 

How a Virtual Assistant Can Benefit Your Business During the Pandemic

The coronavirus has changed the way we function in society, but it has also turned businesses upside down. Those that depended on foot traffic for revenue have been hurt the most, and many others have had to completely change their business model and transform to function in the digital space.

A virtual assistant is a cost-efficient way to help with sales and marketing, business operations and development, admin tasks, and customer service.

Cost-Efficiency

Compared to hiring for a full-time position, a virtual assistant is more cost-efficient.

Hiring someone full-time means paying for an employee’s salary, time off, benefits, equipment, training, and access to paid software.

That’s a lot to take on during such uncertain times.

Since VAs work remotely and are never expected to go to an office (post-pandemic), this option saves many costs for a business. Most of the time, the VA will already have their own equipment (like headsets and laptops) to start their position, which means no additional cost for you.

If you’re thinking about hiring a VA, figure out if part-time work will be more cost-efficient. If your business line is getting calls around the clock, hiring an assistant full-time makes sense—but the worst thing you could do is hire someone to work a typical 9-5 workday without enough work in their queue. It is estimated that hiring a full-time VA instead of a full-time employee can improve operating costs by as much as 78%.

If you hire a virtual assistant who is already well-versed in admin duties and customer service, you won’t have to worry about training them, either. The only training they should need is learning the specific programs and processes of your business.

Improve Time Management

When companies are understaffed and employees are overloaded with work that is outside their responsibilities, many functions in your business can fall short.

Imagine if a hospital or doctor’s office didn’t increase their staff on hand during the pandemic—thousands of phone calls would go unanswered, offices would be extra chaotic, and doctors would be trying to handle the receptionist desk. Anyone who is not hired to answer phones and manage customer service tasks should not be required to do so.

It is okay to have double-dipping in smaller businesses, since it is often an “all hands on deck” atmosphere, but it should be limited. Encourage your staff to do what they were hired to do.

Salespeople should be making calls to bring in new businesses. Owners should be making sure all aspects of the company are running as smoothly as possible. Receptionists and assistants should be handling customer calls.

24/7 Customer Service 

It’s important customers are tended to whenever a problem arises, no matter the time of day. Not answering a call or a support chat can result in the loss of business.

When calls are only answered at your establishment for eight hours a day in your specific time zone, you could be missing out on a significant number of customer service issues.

Especially during the pandemic, customers and prospects are looking to order from and be associated with companies that value their time and money. The majority of the world is staying at home now, with odd working hours and limited free time. Many are making personal calls late at night and companies aren’t able to jump on the phone, so the shopper opts for chat support.

Offering 24/7 customer service will help attract customers and leave them satisfied with their experience.

Help With Scaling 

Depending on the situation, scaling a business during the pandemic can be difficult—but with the right infrastructure, plan, and new hires in place, it can be done. A virtual assistant on your team can assist your company in areas that are falling short and hindering your growth.

Too many calls going unanswered? No problem. Can’t get your CRM updated? There’s A Better Answer for that. Inconsistency with cold calls? A virtual assistant can do that, too.

When a virtual assistant handles the admin and customer service tasks, the rest of the company and leadership can focus on larger avenues that have better opportunities for growth. 

Consider Hiring a Virtual Assistant for Your Business

Devising a strategy to combat the setbacks of COVID-19 is necessary to keep operations running as smoothly as possible.

Companies need to accept the new “work from home” world we live in and hire positions to help them save time and money, grow their business, and improve operations. 

If you’re in the market to add a virtual assistant to your team, we rounded up the main qualities you should look for in one. There is A Better Answer.

Publish Date: February 15, 2021


How to Deal with the 5 Most Common Types of Customer Service Callers

As a business, customer service calls are inevitable. Knowing the types of callers to expect and how to deal with each one as an individual is the key to providing excellent customer service. Businesses reportedly lose billions of dollars per year due to callers feeling they've received poor customer service. 

Let’s learn more about the different types of callers you can expect so you can be prepared to handle any situation that comes your way—and ultimately delight the consumer.

Why Do People Call Customer Service?

There are many reasons—and they can vary depending on the industry. Tech companies will generally deal with internet issues, retail companies might deal with shipping and payment concerns—and the list goes on. 

Whatever the case, customers call in order to get a problem resolved or a question answered. If your customer service reps are prepared, “excellent customer support” and your brand name will go hand in hand.

The Top 3 Things People Want When Calling Customer Service

There are three main things people hope for when they pick up a phone or jump onto the computer.

  1. Speed: They want to get their issue solved quickly and get back to their day. Long wait times can frustrate them and easily give them a bad impression of a company—before you even have a chance to connect them with a rep.
  2. The human touch: People like to interact with people. As such, your customers are likely hoping to speak to a real human. Not a bot. Bots with limited preset commands can make them angry when their request isn’t listed, or a mistake forces them to repeat themselves. They may feel as if the company doesn’t care about their issue enough to connect a human service rep. You should avoid creating this impression.
  3. Resourcefulness: People want fast customer service from a live person, but they also want a truly helpful one. If the agent is not skilled in customer service—and doesn’t know how to talk to someone in a polite and professional manner—or if they aren’t knowledgeable enough about the brand to provide helpful solutions, the caller may think the people you hired don’t know what they’re doing. Your goal is to keep your reputation intact and delight the customer, every time.

The 5 Most Common Types of Customer Service Callers

The following are the types of people to look out and be ready for.

The Negative Nancy

These individuals are dissatisfied with your product or service for some reason and may be tricky to deal with if you don’t know how. The best way to handle them is to get your reps to show empathy. They should be extra polite, try their very best to solve the customer’s problem quickly, and keep the conversation constructive.

If your rep needs to put them on hold to check something for them, have them explain what they’re doing and approximately how long it should take. If it takes longer than expected, get back on the line and let them know. One of the worst things you can do with this type of caller is make them wait or leave them hanging without communicating what’s going on.

Pleasant Pat

This type of person is generally quite nice. They might have questions or want to leave positive feedback—much easier for your rep than someone getting in touch to complain about an issue..

Unfortunately, these may not happen as often ... but that makes it feel all the better when they do! To deal with this customer, thank them for the feedback and say you’re so happy they had a good experience. Aim to stay professional, even though they might use a very casual and friendly tone. You’re still running a business, after all. 

You might even ask them to leave a positive review online, which would be great for prospective customers to see.

Confused Carol

Carol is typically having trouble with something on your website—perhaps they’re unable to find the info they’re looking for. This one may be slightly more difficult to handle, but with the right tactics, you can do it. 

Be patient and clear when walking them through steps or giving directions—especially if they pertain to your website, since some people are less technical. Be helpful, and don’t make them feel bad. 

Never belittle or talk down to a customer. They will not be pleased by this kind of behavior. After calls with this type of customer, it’s good practice to make notes and document their issues. This will help management and owners fix any issues you covered on the call, thereby reducing the number of calls about similar problems—for instance, struggling to locate the return policy on your website.

The Know-it-all Nick

This is a talkative person who might try to correct or argue with you on details. In other words, they may think they know the business better than you and other staff do. Be patient and friendly, but firm. While still keeping a nice demeanor, don’t let them push you around. Just keep the conversation constructive, not combative, similar to the way you’d navigate conversations with Negative Nancy types.

Nervous-to-purchase Nadine

The nervous ones can have just one question—or lots. They’ll be interested in your product or service, but will have different concerns, ranging from shipping costs, return policies, a free trial, or another matter. This customer will need a little hand-holding to make the purchase, but is generally nothing to be concerned about. 

You’ll connect with this one by being friendly without getting pushy. Answer their questions as thoroughly as possible—even if it’s something you think is simple. They might find it perplexing.

Why Your Customer Service Should Be Excellent

Make sure your customer service reps know how to deal with these different categories of caller personalities. Each has a different set of problems, feelings, and goals they want to accomplish—and people representing your brand need to help them do that, so you can build a positive (and lucrative) relationship.

In the end, make sure you’re providing a pleasant experience so they want to come back for more—not shudder at the thought of calling your business again.

Is there a type of caller we missed? Leave your suggestions in the comments and let us know! We’d love to hear from you and help with A Better Answer to determine how to approach this customer type.

Publish Date: November 30, 2020


What is Customer Service? A Look at It's History & Future

The idea of better customer service dates back to the 1760s, where customer support teams emerged as a result of the industrial revolution. 

The reason customer service started is the same reason it exists today: knowing what your customers want (and how the customer experience changes over time) will help your business grow.

What Is Customer Service?

Customer service is the quality of support you offer any customers that connect with a representative of your brand. It’s about those interactions—you have to make them positive ones. It includes everything from rep personality, politeness, and helpfulness to modern issues, like maintaining minimal wait or hold times. 

Keeping your customer service in tip-top shape will increase satisfaction with your brand and create loyal customers—poor customer service can hurt your business by frustrating customers and tarnishing your reputation. 

It’s your best opportunity to show buyers you care. Use it to your advantage.

The History of Customer Service

The Invention of the Telephone and Rotary Dial

In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell patented the electric telephone. Before that point, people had to bring their product back to the store and simply hope the owner would accept the return. 

In 1894, the telephone switchboard was invented, which was a huge help for businesses that connected with customers over the phone. Then, in the 1920s, rotary dials were implemented, helping companies act as an operator by connecting dialed numbers to the proper phone line. 

These innovations were not only more efficient, they helped businesses offer higher quality service to their customers. 

The Call Center and the 1-800 Number Come on the Scene

Call centers were created in the 1960s. Now, companies could take more calls while offering better customer service. In call centers, employees answered and resolved customer issues so other staff could focus on different tasks.

In 1967, the all-important 1-800 number was announced by AT&T, which allowed customers to call a specific number for a company without the hassle of calling collect or dealing with an operator. Cutting out redundant steps reduced frustration for all parties.

The Invention of IVR

Another springboard for better customer service was IVR, or Interactive Voice Response. These systems allow you to call in and simply say “yes” or “no.”They guide callers to the correct person who can answer their question, rather than bouncing them around to irrelevant or dead ends.

The Internet Changes Customer Service

Let’s fast forward to the modern day (we’re getting closer!). In the 1990s, the internet became public, delighting callers and businesses alike by opening up a plethora of better customer service options. Customer service software made it easier to answer larger volumes of issues. Customers were happy, quicker than ever.

Social media took off in 2008 and opened up yet another support avenue to customers. 

Service opportunities have never been more abundant, and companies are taking advantage—so make sure you’re keeping up with your competition.

Who Invented Customer Service, Anyway?

The inventor of customer service isn’t documented, but the title is often unofficially given to Alexander Graham Bell. His telephone took customer service to another level. 

Without telephones, modern businesses couldn’t build quality relationships with their customers.. When people can’t get in touch, their questions or concerns can’t be answered—hurting sales as well as customer satisfaction.

The Future of Customer Service: How to Offer the Best at Your Company

Complete customer-focus is key to building successful relationships and creating a loyal following.  One way to offer better service is by staying (virtually) open 24/7. 

If you don’t want to give your current employees weekend or night shifts, you can bring in the help of a call center service provider.

Provide instant gratification whenever possible—in other words, no “we’ll get back to you in 48 hours.” If people think they can get a faster response elsewhere, they will leave—and you’ll lose a potential sale.

Soon enough, AI will enable products that “fix themselves.” At the same time, phone call volume will decrease, while instant messages increase. A good call center can handle this change—their competitive advantage lies in their ability to bring cutting-edge innovation to their clients’ customer service departments.

It’s always best to put the customer in control of where customer service experiences happen. Make the process as convenient as possible, whether they prefer phone calls, texts, emails, or instant messages..

As technology advances and service offerings develop, industries are becoming more heavily focused on customer satisfaction than ever before. If you’re not offering amazing customer service, you’re losing business.

Still have doubts? Download our customer service toolkit to learn how you can start offering more excellent service to your customers and boost  sales and customer retention.

Source: https://www.abetteranswer.com/blog/what-is-customer-service-a-look-at-its-history-future

Publish Date: November 22, 2020


Why Your Company Needs a Virtual Receptionist | Tips for Small Businesses

In order to keep a business running smoothly, there are all sorts of mundane, redundant-feeling administrative tasks that need to be taken care of. On top of those tasks, you also need to make sure you have top-notch customer service available 24/7. 

In this article, we’ll discuss why you should consider hiring a virtual receptionist to handle your customer service and admin duties so you can get some stress off your plate and refocus on other responsibilities that need your attention.

What is a Virtual Receptionist?

Also known as a virtual assistant, a virtual receptionist is like an in-house receptionist but has some of its own advantages. They take care of admin tasks while also handling incoming calls, making outgoing calls, and more—all from a remote location. What’s so great about this? You’re about to find out!

How Does a Virtual Receptionist Work?

Seeing growth in your customer base is a good thing—but it also means an ever-growing number of calls, more than someone can handle when they have other tasks to complete. A virtual receptionist can ease the burden of handling these client calls, so you can concentrate more on the service side of your company and growing your business.

Here’s what you can expect the process to look like:

  1. Current customers and new clients call your business number
  2. The call is forwarded to the virtual receptionist
  3. They answer in a professional and pleasant manner, using your customized script
  4. After discovering the reason for the call, they either handle the issue themselves or promptly forward the call to someone else who can better assist.

Curious what this could mean for your business? When it comes to the benefits this solution could bring, the possibilities are virtually endless! The following is how you can take your company to the next level by partnering with a virtual receptionist.

Publish Date: November 15, 2020


Outsourcing Customer Service vs In-House Solutions | A Guide for Small Business

A common problem that business owners see when growing their business is an influx of customer service calls coming in without the bandwidth to handle them. The two most prominent options that are typically considered to resolve this problem is by outsourcing a call center or hiring an in-house team of reps. 

Choosing what’s right for business can be an incredibly difficult decision.

You want to make the best choice, but there are so many factors to consider—your budget, your employees’ well-being, and the scalability potential. The list goes on.

There are pros and cons to each option for solving your customer service issues. Here are our tips to figure out which option is the right one for your business.

Outsourcing Customer Service

In some cases, the term “outsourcing” has a bad connotation. For instance, there has been a big push to move manufacturing to the United States in the retail space because outsourcing materials and production resulted in a lower quality product, communication was difficult, and their partner cut corners.

This is certainly not the case in all instances. Outsourcing services can be the ideal option for your business.

You may be asking yourself, “what exactly does outsourcing entail?” Well, outsourcing a company, specifically to fill in your customer service needs, means hiring a call center or an answering service that will work as an extension of your team. The term outsourcing means “to obtain (goods or a service) from an outside or foreign supplier, especially in place of an internal source.”

Most of these services provided by an outsourced company have different options to fit your business needs. On the simpler side, they can answer calls and route them to the right salesperson or tech. On the more involved side, an outsourced answering service can respond to emails, send text reminders, schedule calls, and answer top-level customer service questions. 

Pros of Outsourcing

Ability to Scale

Adjusting to the flow of business is simple when you outsource. The majority of call centers will be able to scale their services as you do, and as quickly as you do. You don’t have to worry about adding infrastructure or staff, and the time it takes to go through the hiring process.

Reduction in Cost

Hiring in-house customer service reps are just another salary to add to your books. By outsourcing your customer service, you will most likely have an agreed-upon fee you pay for their services on a monthly or yearly basis. This reduces the cost of an employee or hiring an in-house team in salary and overtime pay, medical insurance, and paid time off.

Frees up Time

Removing the responsibility of customer service from your employees allows them to focus on higher priority tasks. You won’t have to have someone “manning the phones” and get taken away from more important tasks like improving business development processes.

Professional Staff 

When you outsource your customer service, you automatically gain experts in the customer service industry. They are trained to be a seamless extension of your company, meaning they will work off your scripts and treat each customer as your in-house team would with the same amount of compassion and empathy. You can fully trust that your customers and clients will be treated with the same care and professionalism you would give personally.

24/7 Service

With an outsourced customer service team, they will have agents working around the clock for your business. This means you won’t miss sales leads calling after hours or customers trying to get in touch over holidays.

Cons of Outsourcing

Lack of Total Control

When you outsource your customer service, you have to give trust and control to another company to handle your clients. They will most likely provide reports and feedback of calls and issues, but this can be extra scary for companies that are still establishing themselves in their industry and trying to put their best foot forward.

Inadequate Brand Awareness

Although an outsourced answering service can fully understand your industry, they realistically won’t have a 100% clear vision of the goal you have for your brand. This is something that you can provide them with training to help with, but it can be hard to guarantee that every single rep in the outsourced call center will abide by your brand guidelines completely.

Sharing Customer Data

You will have to share private customer information with whatever company you outsource. This can be especially frightening in today's world where data seems to be stolen often, especially in the medical industry, when you have to be extra strict and guarded with your clients’ information. The best thing to do is make sure you and your customers are protected under contract, and you partner with a trustworthy company with the necessary security measures (like HIPAA compliance for protected health information) and experience in your field.

In-House Customer Service

The other option to solve your customer service needs is by hiring in-house customer service. This can be in the form of one person or a larger team, depending on your needs.

Hiring an in-house team means they will be on your payroll and direct employees of your company. You will be responsible for interviewing them, hiring them, their salary, benefits, continued education, and productivity.

The option of hiring in-house customer service representatives is appealing to business owners because they have full control over what is said, how it’s said, and can oversee their employees better. Still, all of this responsibility is not ideal when you’re running a business. It all depends on what you are looking for as a business owner.

Pros of In-house Solutions

Personal Touch and Control

By handling your customer service in-house, you will get full control over the process. While this makes sense for companies with few clients, as you acquire more customers, this will be difficult –and impossible—to maintain. If your goal is to be a very attentive, more of a mom-and-pop shop, hiring an in-house team may be the best option for you, so you don’t have to relinquish control.

Quick Implementations of Policy Changes

Company policies are inevitably going to change over time. By having an in-house customer service solution, you will be able to implement these changes immediately, while a third party may drag out the implementation. It doesn’t mean an outsourced team is incapable of agility, it may just take them longer to adjust as a third party.

Technical Support

In-house solutions are also able to give your customers and clients the appropriate technical support. This means your company will be able to resolve resolutions on the spot and help with troubleshooting issues where an outsourced partner might only be able to create a trouble ticket and schedule appointments.

Cons of In-house Solutions

Costly Infrastructure

One of the biggest cons of hiring an in-house solution is the costly infrastructure and overhead. As the business owner, you will not only be responsible for equipment but also all the liabilities that come with retaining an in-house team including salaries, overtime pay, benefits, training, and continued education if necessary. This can quickly get expensive, especially when you start to scale.

Requires Training and Management

The amount of time it takes to hire one person or a team alone can be a big deterrent to any company owner. You will have to come up with the criteria and post job openings, give interviews, schedule follow-ups, then prepare them with training once they are hired.

You may have an HR team to help with this, but as the business owner, you will most likely be involved with part of this process. Again, these responsibilities can be an issue when you are trying to scale your business.

Downtime for Support

When your office closes, your phones and your customer service closes. This causes frustration for your customers, especially in a time-sensitive situation, because they have to wait for their issue to be resolved the following business day, or even longer. This can give your business a bad reputation over time.

Takes Valuable Time

Dealing with customer service and in-house your employees takes time away from your more important tasks like tightening up processes or working on business development.

Choose the Best Service That Works Best for You

Deciding between hiring an answering service and hiring an in-house team of customer service reps can be a big decision for your business, but either option you choose will help out with your business needs. Go with the option that best fits your needs. If you’re trying to scale, outsourcing an answering service would be your best bet, but if your main concern is that your clients have an ultra-attentive experience you can micro-manage, hiring in-house might be ideal for you.

Publish Date: October 30, 2020


How to Help Your Call Center Reduce Wait Time and Abandoned Calls

Many businesses rely on phone services to stay in touch with their customers and their employees. All too often, customers are put on hold, and if the call is not picked up quickly, they hang up. Businesses should do what they can to avoid putting customers on hold for more time than it takes to transfer a call. It might sound like an impossible goal, but there are several things businesses can do to reduce hangups.

4 Reasons Why Customers Abandon Calls

Before making decisions about improving phone service, businesses should understand why their customers are abandoning calls

Poor Customer Caller Experience

The most common reason why customers hang up a call is because of poor customer experience. Employees might be difficult to hear, they may not know where to direct the call, or the quality of the call might be poor. There are numerous reasons why a customer might be disappointed enough in their experience to hangup. 

Download: Improve your customer service with these 3 strategies!

Phone Lines are Busy or Cannot Be Reached

If a customer calls and continually gets a busy signal, they will eventually stop calling. The same will happen if the customer calls, and no one answers. 

Waiting Without Explaining

Customers will not wait if they do not know why they are waiting. As the clock ticks, customers will begin to overestimate how long they have been waiting. Some businesses have automated messages that tell their waiting customers that they are important and to continue to hold. But, if no one actually picks up and the customers hear this message repeatedly, they will hang up. Sometimes, customers will call back after they’ve hung up, but it’s not a guarantee. 

Waiting and Doing Nothing

No one likes to wait, and customers are more impatient than ever. If they do not know why they are waiting, and there is no sound coming from your end of the phone, customers will hang up. As they wait with nothing to do, they will grow impatient and abandon the call. 

How Do You Calculate the Percentage of Abandoned Calls?

When you want to improve your telephone service, you should collect data to learn what is and isn’t working. If you have abandoned calls, then you should look closely at how many and when they tend to happen. Abandoned calls can become a key performance indicator (KPI), but first, you have to get benchmark data. Once you do that, you can then set goals to reduce the number to see if your staff is doing better in attending customers they put on hold. 

When you want to calculate the abandonment rate, you collect the number of incoming calls in a set period. Then, you gather the number of calls that were actually handled. To get useful data, choose a period of time, like a month or a quarter. Then, subtract the calls handled from the actual calls received. Divide that number by the calls received. You will get a percentage that shows you how many are abandoned. Unfortunately, the number does not tell you why they were abandoned. 

How Can You Reduce Abandoned Calls in a Call Center?

It is possible to reduce abandoned calls after collecting data, analyzing it, and creating a solution that works for your organization. 

Provide a Better Queue Experience

You and your staff should look closely at the customer experience and how long they are waiting online. This is a data point that could be collected to get an accurate picture of the average wait time. 

Once the data is collected, management and call center employees should talk to each other about ways to reduce wait time. Some companies will actively engage with callers to let them know why they are on hold. Call centers try to improve their services by sharing information like this with customers:

  • Automate wait time announcements
  • Share information as customers wait on hold
  • Play music to distract customers while they wait
  • Gather required information from customers before putting them on hold

Implement a Customer Call Back

There is one sure-fire way not to have callers abandon a call: setting a call-back time. Rather than asking customers to wait, call centers arrange a call-back time, so the customer knows when the phone will ring, and they can talk to their agent. 

This technique is called “virtual queuing” or “virtual hold” - because the customer is still waiting to talk to an agent, but they are waiting with an expected call back. The key to success is actually having agents call them back. 

Some organizations will also have agents call back abandoned numbers during slow times. This can only be done when customer information is collected upfront or when call centers gather phone numbers from a caller ID service. 

Establish Channels of Communication 

Another useful way to reduce abandoned calls is to set up different channels, so customers do not have to call into the same line. This lets customers have a personalized experience while taking away some pressure on the call center. Customers can reach agents with direct phone lines and leave messages for call-backs.

Improve Training of Customer Agents

Training is another necessity, especially for call-center employees and agents. Call-center employees need to learn how to speed up their calls to reduce abandoned calls. And, agents need to do the same, so their customers aren’t waiting too long to talk to them. 

Prepare a Better Schedule for the Customer Agents

Some organizations look at phone data, so they can make staffing changes to meet the demands of a busy call center. Automated technology can look at historical data to predict when call centers will be busy. They can then suggest staffing ideas based on 15-minute intervals. They can also adjust agent schedules so they are available during peak phone hours. 

Hire More Agents

Lastly, if the phones are overwhelmed, and agents do not have time to attend to all of their customers, then it might be time to hire more agents. 

Abandoned calls are necessary to measure success when providing customer satisfaction. Fortunately, there are several realistic steps organizations can take to speed up their phone service and reduce abandoned calls.

Source: https://www.abetteranswer.com/blog/how-to-help-your-call-center-reduce-wait-time-and-abandoned-calls

Publish Date: August 30, 2020


Celebrating Hildie's 40th Anniversary With A Better Answer!

Hildie interviewed 40 years ago on August 11th with June Danner, Manager. June instantly saw that Hildie would make the perfect addition to the ABA Family and so Hildie was hired on the spot. How little did we know way back then that Hildie would be a huge anchor for ABA for 40 years – and still going and going and going.

Hildie started as a Telephone Service Receptionist (TSR) but after only a year was advanced to billing and collections where she was a super star. After doing that job for a few years, she moved and took her family with her to the Houston office where she managed 7 years. Missing family and friends because of the long-distance commute, she transferred back to the Dallas-Plano office where she trained, supervised and always did customer service. After several years with a fabulously trained operations staff, ABA moved to Plano and Hildie took over Managing not only Customer Service (her first love) but also took on Billing. These jobs have kept her busy, challenged, and doing a marvelous job. We were proud of her when she began, we remain proud of her now and we will always be proud of Hildie and all her wonderful achievements.

Hildie came to us as her first job and until now, her only job. Isn’t ABA the lucky and blessed one? Hildie was single when hired, then married, had 2 wonderful children, was widowed and now has 5 lovely grandkids – all the while working full time. We wish Hildie "Big Congratulations" on a highly successful career, family and friends and many, many more happy years and joyful memories! God Bless you Hildie as you have been a blessing to so very many other lives.

Dee Hawkins,
CEO

Publish Date: August 20, 2020


Why Having an Answering Service for Your Hospice Services is Extremely Beneficial

Managing a hospice service involves several difficult challenges. Hospice managers must be able to offer empathy as they support patients and families during their most difficult times. They also need to be able to work with health care providers and insurance companies while managing other typical office needs, like hiring workers or ordering supplies. Hospice service managers are busy, so hiring a medical answering service can take some of the jobs off of their plates and boost the quality of their patient services. 

How Can an Answering Services Help Hospice Services?

Medical offices of all types rely on answering services to improve their customer service. Hospice services can benefit from using an answering service, so they can meet the needs of their patients and families. 

Never Miss a Call

Medical answering services answer calls 24 hours per day. This is critical in the world of hospice because patients also require care at all hours of the day and night. With an answering service, hospice offices never miss a call, even if the office is closed. The answering service can contact nurses, doctors or other hospice staff at any time. 

Cost Savings

Hiring an answering service can highly reduce operational and administrative office expenses. , Hospice offices have staff on-site to answer phones rather than hiring an answering service but this is an expensive alternative. With an answering service, hospice offices pay only for the service, rather than the cost of employing people to answer phones with so much idle time in between. 

With the cost savings, hospice offices can allocate funds for other things such as equipment upgrades, hire staff members to work with patient care or many other areas. 

Build Professional Reputation

Medical answering services are more than just fancy answering machines. The service hires people who are knowledgeable about the hospice services provided. The professionals at the answering services can answer most questions with sensitivity and concern. If they are unable to answer questions or they recognize the caller needs care from the nurse or physician, the answer service employees take the necessary steps to reach the providers. 

With a medical answering service, the hospice office builds their professional reputation as their phones are always answered promptly and professionally. Family members who have loved ones in hospice care can rely on the answering service to help them get the answers they need when they need them. They can also use the answering service to get to the health care provider, too. 

What Can An Answering Service Do For Your Business?

Once you turn to an answering service, you will quickly wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. The benefits are far-reaching as they make it easier to get your other work done more effectively and efficiently. It can truly be not only A Better Answer but a great decision.

Set an Appointment 

Receptionists and other office staff can make appointments, but answering services can do it, too. With someone always available to answer the phone, patients and their families can manage their appointments with more efficiency. Someone is always available to make, change, or cancel an appointment at all hours of the day or night. And, when a family is in the throngs of hospice services, they often need to make appointments at unusual hours. 

Without an answering service, patients and their family members are restricted from making appointments when the office is open. This is not always convenient for family members who might be providing care at odd hours. 

Helps with Influx Calls

There will be times when the hospice office is busier than others. And incoming calls can become overwhelming for office staff who often have to juggle several duties at once. When calls pick up, answering services can provide respite for office staff so they can work with the patients and their families who are already receiving care by handling calls which overflow.

Answering service employees are trained to handle phone calls with efficiency. They know how to get to the point of the call while maintaining empathy for the caller. They take care of business quickly and effectively so they can get to other calls without having to leave anyone on hold for long periods of time. 

Relay Important Messages 

Answering services will help patients and their family members with their needs. Sometimes the calls require quickly getting in touch with doctors or nurses. Other times, answering services know when to take messages and relay them to the appropriate person. The hospice center manager can work with the answering service to determine when it is time to contact a health care provider or when a message works best.

Escalate Emergencies and Medication Reminders

In the world of hospice care, emergencies happen frequently. A top-notch answering service can calmly talk to patients and caregivers when an emergency happens. They are trained to help a frantic caller stay under control with compassion and professionalism. The answering service can also contact a healthcare provider in real-time when necessary. 

Answering services can also be used to make reminder phone calls, so patients do not miss appointments. This is an important service that can free up time for the office staff. The answering service can also send texts or emails for patients who prefer those methods of communication. They can send reminders to patients when it is time to take their medication, which is helpful for patients and their caregivers who are in hospice care. 

Hospice centers that use answering services find them to be beneficial. They can help hospice offices save money and make better use of their limited funds. They can help hospice offices provide better customer services as every patient and family member can trust their phone calls will always be answered. 

Answering services can take messages, contact health care providers and send medication reminders to patients. They can also help hospice offices with emergencies and with busy times. By hiring an answering service, hospice offices are able to better focus their energy on patient care rather than managing phone calls. With a medical answering service, patients and their families can trust their calls will be answered at all hours of the day and night. 

Publish Date: July 30, 2020


Why an Answering Service is Critical to the Medical Field During COVID-19

Outsourcing medical answering services for the medical industry is not a new trend; it has been a widely used option now for decades. However, as COVID-19 spreads globally, health care workers on the frontlines are at risk of acquiring this dangerous disease. The medical industry has been overwhelmed with this pandemic and it is an “all-hands-on-deck” time right now.

Let’s take a look at why and how outsourcing an answering service is beneficial for you and your staff in the medical industry.

What Does Outsourcing an Answering Service Entail?

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, the medical field has been taxed nearly to the breaking point. Given that we haven’t seen the end of this worldwide pandemic, frontline personnel is poised to continue offering around-the-clock medical services in an already-strained environment with no end. With the scenario that medical professionals are immersed in, many staff members are unable to deal with the high volume of calls that come into doctor’s offices, hospitals, and other medical facilities. on top of that, staff are out-of-office due to self-quarantine, illness, or vacation with a backup of messages and calls creates a nightmare scenario.

When you outsource your answering service, a well-trained experienced agent is available to answer calls, much like your front desk reception would. They can also answer common questions and forward necessary calls to medical staff. Depending on your practice and customer needs, with current conditions, you could save hundreds of hours each week by using an answering service. Answering service professionals will work with your desired call overflow and ensure all necessary calls make it through to your desk.

Benefits of Outsourcing Answering Services

Enhanced Customer Support

We are living in an unprecedented time and each one of your patients is facing the extremes of lockdown, social distancing and stay-at-home orders. It is crucial to offer alternative methods for communication between patients and medical offices beyond physically visiting. Ensuring availability for patients to call in and receive answers to their concerns and questions is more critical now than ever.

When a pandemic or national crisis hits, there are no regular “office hours” for most medical personnel. Patients need to call in at all hours of the day and night. With emergency rooms already filled and urgent care greatly strained, calling your office might be the only recourse available when a medical question arises. Due to this, patients need the ability to connect with a live person 24/7 to address concerns. 

While outsourcing to an answering service will save you time in answering phone calls throughout the day, answering services go far beyond taking phone calls. The professionals you hire can also schedule appointments for your patients and set reminders on shared calendars. An answering service can set appointments and send reminders to your patients via text messages, email, telephone and smartphone app.

Cost-Effective 

An answering service can save your medical office thousands of dollars. When you hire an answering service, you save expenses related to:

  • Training
  • Salaries
  • Benefits Packages
  • Paid Time Off
  • Overtime
  • Equipment
  • Additional Office Space

Higher Productivity and Efficiency

Time management for medical professionals is crucial. If you’re not on break, then you are either helping patients or attending to stacks of paperwork at the end of each day. Taking extra phone calls, which can be efficiently answered by someone else, uses up your valuable time instead of maximizing the hours in your day.

By hiring an answering service, you’ll be able to devote time to the most important tasks in your day. Your staff can focus on their patients, paperwork, and answering calls that need individual attention. Rather than taking every call that comes in, you’ll be able to prioritize calls according to the level of importance and urgency. You’ll never miss a vital call that needs your attention. You can assure your patients are receiving excellent customer service and professional care when you’re not able to answer the phone.

Prepared for Emergency Situations

During a crisis, such as the pandemic we face, or a national disaster, outsourcing your answering service enables you to keep phone lines open 24/7 for patients and employees. When medical crises hit, medical offices are the first to become overwhelmed by the influx of visits, calls, and requests. By hiring an answering service, you do not only maximize your efficiency during normal conditions, but you also prepare your office and your employees to handle the crisis more effectively. Ensure your office stays available for patient and employee call-ins and make sure your phone lines never get jammed, no matter the situation you face.

Better Relationship with Patients and a Professional Reputation

When you combine instant 24/7 availability, more time to dedicate to your patients, and high-quality care and customer service, you provide a much more enjoyable and satisfying patient experience. The more efficiently you run your medical offices, the more efficiently you’ll be able to see your patients. You’ll also be able to spend more time with them since you won’t need to dedicate any more time than necessary to answering the phones. 

With increased efficiency and less wait time, your staff will be able to focus on the patients who need your services. They will also feel less pressed for time and can provide a more peaceful and calm patient experience. The more time and efficiency you can introduce to your offices, the more you can focus on current patients, engage with staff, and take on new patients as you free up extra time. No matter what a day may bring, you can rest easy knowing every patient under your care has 24/7 access to a professional who can answer their question, calm their fears, schedule an appointment, or connect them with appropriate staff.

Answering Services: A Medical Professional’s Lifeline

Outsourcing answering services can help your offices avoid the influx of calls and taking hours away from staff that has more pressing matters at hand. During a pandemic or other crisis, outsourcing can provide numerous benefits for your office and your employees.

Publish Date: April 15, 2020


How to Motivate Your Call Center Agents and Boost Morale

When managing a call center, the ultimate goal is to interface with vendors and customers in a highly productive fashion. Why? Because it’s a pivotal part of building and retaining relationships that’ll ultimately help boost the company’s reputation and brand visibility. 

However, how can you possibly expect to provide high-quality service to your customers if your employees lack motivation and are unsatisfied with their work environment? 

Maybe you’ve tried motivating your team before by providing lunch once a week. What a great perk, right? But you quickly found out that the routine became stale and was not enough to boost engagement among your call center agents. 

While finding ways to motivate your agents may prove to be a little difficult, it’s certainly not impossible. When done correctly, it’ll have a direct, positive impact on performance and customer satisfaction. 

It may take a bit of trial and error to find what methods produce the most effective results, but once you find your groove, it’ll be incredibly impactful to your company. 

To help you get started, here are several ways you can boost employee morale and motivate your agents to put their best foot forward.

How To Motivate Call Center Agents 

#1. Make the Physical Environment a Pleasant One

You may think this is silly, but just as designers will recommend painting your bedroom green or blue as it promotes a sense of calmness and tranquility, your office space should be treated with care as well. 

Not only should you always maintain a clean and decluttered workspace, but you should decorate the space with warm colors and plants so the area feels inviting and pleasant for your employees. 

If you’re a creative person, don’t hold back. Use that creativity to transform your office space into one that someone would be proud to spend the bulk of their week in. 

Similarly, encourage your employees to make their workspace their own. Maybe that involves photos of loved ones or maybe it means small plants to remind them of the outdoors. 

#2. Provide the Tools Needed for Success

Supplying ample coaching and training is not only important for professional development but it also allows for continuous improvement. It ensures your agents are meeting your high standards and that they can eventually surpass them too. 

Always provide constructive feedback and establish a strategy designed to set your agents up for success. Knowing that you value the professional development of your employees is highly motivating. 

You also want to make sure your employees are equipped with the tools and resources needed to produce high-level work. This includes an updated computer, high-speed internet, working phone and headset, and internal platforms to streamline processes. 

#3. Celebrate Successes & Give Praise

Quite possibly the most important part of motivating and retaining your call center agents is by giving regular recognition and praise. Employees tend to exhibit higher productivity levels and put more effort into their work when they know it’s appreciated and recognized by superiors. 

Don’t just praise team members for metric-related wins, celebrate other wins outside of those walls as well. Career milestones, birthdays, work anniversaries, going above and beyond for a client, and personal achievements are a few of the many ways you can give recognition. 

Whether you give them a certificate, an extra vacation day, some company swag, or other a bonus, make sure you personalize your praise and do it in front of others to truly make an impact. 

Peer-to-peer recognition and customer compliments are also a fantastic way to celebrate your agents’ successes. You can create an internal “gratitude” board for employees to give cheers to their colleagues’ hard work and you can send your team emails whenever you receive feedback from a happy customer. 

There are so many ways to get creative with praise!. 

You could crown an employee of the month, create fun internal competitions to ramp up individual drive, have a team mascot that gets passed to whoever handled the toughest call that week - there’s really no shortage of ideas when it comes to recognizing the hard work for your agents.

#4. Establish Attainable & Clearly Defined Goals

When goals are ambiguous or just plain unattainable, it’ll only serve to discourage and confuse your call center agents. Your employees will lose their motivation if they feel like goals are set beyond their reach. Exercising transparency among your agents is key - it helps establish trust and it’s the mark of a good leader. 

Always be clear with agents about why they are assigned certain tasks, what the objective is, and even the short and long-term impact their work will have on the overall success of the company. 

Employees thrive in environments where they feel like their work is meaningful and contributing to the bigger picture. Start by setting small, attainable goals and slowly increase these targets to hit bigger KPI’s so your agents can see their individual progress.

#5. Let Your Agents’ Voices Be Heard

Whether you choose to schedule monthly feedback meetings or create an online survey where employees can submit their feedback anonymously, letting your agents know their opinions and ideas matter is vital to strengthening the effectiveness of your team. 

Don’t shy away from the opportunity to flat out ask your staff what motivates them. By proactively having this conversation, you’ll be establishing rewards that your agents will actually want to work hard for. 

What you think is motivating may not be motivating to your agents. 

#6. Help Agents Avoid Burnout

A large contributing factor to employee dissatisfaction is the lack of support after difficult phone calls. While call center agents are professionals and have been specifically trained to handle irate customers or taxing customer interactions, they are still people at the end of the day. 

To help combat this, it’s important to put a system in place that allows your agents the opportunity to vent, take breaks throughout the day, and receive post-call support after particularly difficult calls.

Also, consider creating a feedback loop that encourages agents to bring forward policies, billing errors, or systems that cause callers to become annoyed in the first place. 

This might help mitigate future angry callers. 

These ideas are just a few of the many things you can implement to boost employee morale at your call center. Keep in mind, you know your staff best! If you have any noteworthy ideas (not included on this list) that’ll encourage motivation, don’t be afraid to try them out. 

Believe it or not, sometimes the tiniest changes can lead to a significant improvement in the overall attitude and culture of your call center.

Publish Date: February 25, 2020


How to Do Customer Service the Right Way: Say Goodbye to Automated Messages

Have you ever called your bank or cable TV provider only to be greeted by an automated message? As you listen to the options, annoyance mounts because your purpose for calling doesn’t seem to match any of the prompts or you just have a quick question and can’t seem to get to a human being. 

How frustrating is that?! It makes you dread having to reach out the next time you have an issue. Auto-bot responses can even make you associate negative feelings with the company. 

We’ll discuss in greater detail why customers prefer dealing with real people rather than automation and why you should consider hiring an answering service to provide this ever-important service. 

Downfalls of Automated Messages

Automated messages aren’t outright bad. They can help reduce costs for businesses and provide efficiency when a customer has a simple question such as “what is my account balance” or “when is my next bill due?”

Automation has its place, and can improve your business in other ways, however, when it comes to offering excellent customer service, there is a delicate balance between using the right amount of automation and using far too much. 

When in doubt, it’s always better to utilize live answering. Let us tell you why.

Automation Frustrates Customers

Having to call customer service is rarely the height of someone’s day. They’re usually calling because either they:

  1.       Need more information before making a purchase
  2.       Are dissatisfied with a product or service

Unfortunately, customers calling in just to give compliments and praise are rare. When they do happen, they should be communicated with a live person who can appreciate it and thank them.

Complaints and service queries are the most frequent reason for customer calls. For many companies, automated options are the first line of contact a customer receives. They utilize a menu of various choices, and customers take their pick – unless a menu option doesn’t serve their needs.

Customers are usually patient enough to listen to the menu options once. But after they’ve heard the options and there’s no obvious solution to their needs, they’ll either mash the “0” button to reach an operator or worse yet, hang up. 

If the menu only cycles, they’ll hang up immediately.

Automated menus frustrate customers. No matter what industry you’re in, your customers want to know you care about them. In 2020, customer experience is poised to overtake price and product quality as the number one reason consumers purchase products from one company over another.

Why is this important for you? As a business, it’s vitally important that you maximize your customer’s experience. We see examples across all industries that show just how much of an impact customer service has: someone describing how incredible their doctor is but has a horrible bedside manner, a one-star review on a defective product updated to three because of how professionally their return was handled, or a restaurant with the most amazing food but a snobby and rude host. 

When a customer experiences a “pain point,” they are dealing with a problem with your company or product. Pain points include:

  • Difficulty with the Ordering Process
  • Less-Than-Enthusiastic Customer service
  • Problems with Your Product
  • High Expense vs. Product Value
  • Lack of Order Follow-up
  • Missing Orders

For each pain point that a customer experiences, they are less likely to return. Customer service is crucial in a world that is growing exponentially customer-focused. 

If you absolutely must have automated messages, always include an opportunity for customers to connect with a live person as soon as possible.

Where automation works well is for items like auto bill-pay or getting to the right department. But the key here is that the automated menu isn’t the final destination. A person should always be available to take calls.

Automated menus that only offer robo options often lead to your customers hanging up. If they’re already calling due to a pain point, they won’t want to endure any more pain. At this point, they’ll hang up, return your product if needed, and never come back.

Automation is Impersonal

Interaction is critical to a customer’s experience with your company. Why is this such a big deal? Because everything is connected. One bad experience can get shouted out on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. 

People influence each other. When a person writes about their terrible experience with your company, their friends will feel sympathetic – with them, not you. Too much negative publicity, and you’ll lose customers, revenue, and profit.

Studies show that 90% of the people who call your company want to talk with a real person. People want to connect with someone who understands their problem. 

It’s rare for a customer to solely want a solution; they want understanding and identification. Computers will never be able to give a customer the warmth of human empathy. 

Even in our digital world, we still crave human interaction. 

The Customer Experience Solution

Providing a personal touch for your customers to experience is essential to retaining and gaining business. But answering calls all day without a receptionist to do it for you takes vital time away from your staff. 

After all:

You hired your IT manager for his technology expertise, your production manager for their business savvy, and your back-end manager for their incredible organization skills. 

None of these people were hired to answer phones.

For small companies, hiring a dedicated receptionist is a costly proposition. Even if you were able to afford someone, your receptionist still has to take lunch breaks, bathroom breaks, sick days, and vacation. They can’t operate phones 24/7.

Answering Service Professionals to the Rescue

If you need a live customer service option that saves you time and won’t break the bank, look no further. 

An answering service provides vital connections between customers and your company, satisfies the need for human connection, and ensures consistent quality every time the phone is answered. 

Here are just a few benefits you’ll experience with an answering service.

  • 24/7 Answering
  • Knowledgeable Staff
  • Improved communication between your business and your customers
  • Increased Efficiency for Your Company
  • Saved Expense on Phone Systems
  • Increased Customer Interaction
  • Quality Customer Experience

Making the Right Choice

Don’t get us wrong - automation isn’t all bad! There are times when it can be very helpful and provide quick solutions, which people love in our fast-paced world. However, automated messages and robo-chats shouldn’t be used to replace human contact in customer service. 

Customers want personalized interaction and the opportunity to speak with someone who understands them. If your company doesn’t have the time or finances to offer the quality customer service experience you want to provide, consider hiring an answering service that can take the weight off your shoulders. 

Publish Date: February 20, 2020


How a Virtual Receptionist Can Improve Client Confidence In Your Small Business

As a business owner, your company probably started small. Maybe it’s just you or a handful of other folks on your team. While it’s nice to run a lightweight business, you may run into a few disadvantages when it comes to pitching prospects. 

Your potential customers might think your business isn’t big enough to handle their needs, and this may affect the trust and service you can provide, as well as your overall brand. If you look too small, customers may not feel confident in you. One of the easiest ways to handle this objection from potential clients is to hire a receptionist. Businesses with receptionists are perceived as more substantial and can help in proving to your customers you are not only professional, but you’re bigger than expected.

A virtual receptionist service can make your brand look well-established and instill prospect trust in your brand while remaining cost-effective. 

 

What is a Virtual Receptionist?

A virtual receptionist is precisely what it sounds like: they’re a remote professional who fills the role of a traditional receptionist but doesn’t sit in  your office.

Virtual receptionists are knowledgeable and well-trained administrative professionals who specialize in providing exceptional customer service. They can also work outside of traditional office hours and help with off-hour coverage. When you have a small staff, everyone will likely wear many different hats, some of which are more productive and meaningful to the success of your business. 

Answering phone calls and providing information to clients is essential, but you don’t want the head of your business development team answering the phone every five minutes when they’re trying to concentrate on growing your company. 

While you may not be at the point where you need or can even hire a full-time receptionist, a virtual receptionist can step into free-up your employee’s valuable time to concentrate on what they’re best at. There are a host of benefits to hiring a virtual receptionist for your business. In addition to answering calls and providing customer service, many are also very skilled at other administrative tasks.

A virtual receptionist can help with lead generation, scheduling or canceling appointments, and processing orders. They can even provide after-hours support,  take messages and even live transfer calls if on-demand support is an expectation in your industry, like web development. Simply put, a virtual receptionist can help you streamline and boost your customer service and provide your clients with confidence in your business.

Benefits of a Virtual Receptionist for a Small Business

While the features of virtual receptionists vary based on skill and your needs, let’s review how bringing one on for your small business can benefit both you and your customers.

 

Never Miss a Call

When you’re running a lightweight operation, small businesses generally don’t have one designated receptionist. Even if you do hire a full-time, in-person receptionist, they will end up missing phone calls because they can’t be everywhere at the same time. Not to mention, you’d lose any requests that come in after-hours. With a virtual receptionist, you can keep your team lightweight, and also ensure your phones are answered every time they ring, regardless of the hour. 

According to a 2017 Forrester report, missing a call can impact your business tremendously because it’s your customers that are the lifeblood of your company.

When a customer or potential prospect is reaching out to you, they are probably looking to purchase your product or service. Customers initiating an inbound call convert 30% faster compared to outside sales calls.

The Forrester report also notes phone call inquiries are rising throughout the industry, mostly because people don’t see the difference between digital and physical businesses anymore. A virtual answering service can ensure you’re capturing every call that comes into your business and you’re not leaving money on the table by missing a potential customer. They act as an extension of your business.

A Virtual Assistant ensures your company is available at all times which gives the impression your company is much larger than it is. 

 

Screen Phone Calls

As your business grows and your client list expands, you will eventually need to start screening calls to maximize your time. Cold inquiries can take energy away from that hot lead, so prioritizing becomes ever more important. 

When you hire a virtual receptionist, they can screen your calls so you can devote and prioritize your time wisely. Time is a valuable resource, and ROI needs to be evaluated as you grow. Stretched too thin, and your business starts to suffer.

For your virtual receptionist to screen calls, you provide a customized script for them to use. A script ensures you can devote your time to returning the calls that will have the most benefit on your business first. You can also provide different scenarios for business hours, after hours, and include support processes so you can delegate appropriately. 

Answer Basic Questions

When your business gets a phone call, there might be several questions people may ask that can be answered by pretty much anyone with a little bit of information.

Instead of wasting your precious time answering the same question for the 20th consecutive call of the day, a virtual receptionist will be able to take these off your plate. You’re ready to focus on the core business tasks that are important to the success of your business and your customers or potential clients are getting the answers they need. Provided with the appropriate information to give clients, your receptionist becomes the gatekeeper. They give the solutions to regularly asked questions and pass off only those messages that require follow-up for you and your staff. 

 

Respond to New Opportunities

When you hire a virtual receptionist, you’re putting your business in a position to respond to growth opportunities as they arise. With the proper channels in place, you can scale up your business quickly and easily. As your business grows, the influx of calls is only going to increase. Put yourself in a position where you won’t be struggling to keep up with a virtual receptionist. Your customers will receive top-notch services and phone handling and will help your business convert more leads.

A virtual receptionist service can help your small business scale up quickly and look bigger to a potential client, helping them build trust and confidence in your services. Providing fantastic customer service to your current clients keeps them happy, and your business relationship flourishing.

 A virtual receptionist helps you appear more professional while delivering the same functions as an in-house receptionist at a much more affordable cost. If you want to level-up your small business and prepare for expansive growth, a virtual receptionist will get you there. 

So, what are you waiting for?

Publish Date: January 15, 2020


The Main Qualities to Look for in a Virtual Assistant

Feeling the pangs of burnout? Wondering why there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to complete all your work at an optimal level? To maximize your productivity and ensure you’re able to satisfy all high-level initiatives of your job, consider hiring a Virtual Assistant.  

There is a myriad of ways you can utilize a virtual assistant - from customer service to administrative duties to design work. While each virtual assistant possesses their own unique skill sets, there are some must-have qualities that every VA should have for you to reap the benefits. 

Here’s what to look out for. 

They’re Highly Reliable

Reliability is essential. They could be one of the most brilliant, qualified individuals you’ve ever encountered, but if you can’t rely on them to report on the progress of a project or answer your emails in a timely manner, it will hurt your business in the long run. Since your virtual assistant will most likely be working in a remote capacity, they need to exhibit a level of responsibility and autonomy to perform the tasks assigned to them without any hand holding.

In the end: You should feel confident they can produce high-quality work - not just show up when they’re supposed to. 

They’re an Excellent Communicator

Before you even extend an offer to someone, they should have demonstrative and effective communication skills in responding to your emails or phone calls in a timely manner. Poor communication, especially when it comes to a problem or issue they’re experiencing, can lead to disastrous outcomes.

An inability to communicate could result in misunderstandings that delay processes, generate extra costs, and hurt your relationship with clients. Make sure your VA is completely comfortable navigating different mediums of communication - whether FaceTime, the specific email provider you use, any project management software, text messaging, etc. 

VAs are Resourceful and Proactive

The last thing you want is to hire a virtual assistant who simply goes through their checklist without truly investing time in producing quality work or putting in extra effort. The whole point of employing the help of a VA is to have a helping hand to carry out assigned tasks, find solutions, and solve issues that may arise with clients.  

While it’s unrealistic to assume your VA will be a jack or jill-of-all-trades and know how to do everything, they should be resourceful. They could inquire about a particular task in a VA forum, watch a YouTube tutorial, or research articles that divulge the necessary info. 

For example:

If one of your client’s requests to have a spreadsheet reordered alphabetically, a simple Google search would show your VA how to do it.  

Virtual assistants that are experts at their craft will proactively stay on top of industry trends, competitor on-goings, and the latest technology. This could be a game-changer for your business. 

VA’s who can solve problems, think of their feet, and take the initiative to deliver the highest quality work will save you time and sanity. 

They’re Trustworthy and Honest

Of course, no one wants to hire an employee who is untrustworthy, but when working with someone in a virtual capacity, honesty is more prevalent than ever. Just like anyone, your VA is bound to make a mistake or error every once in a while. 

The difference is, a good VA will come to you about any problems that arise or delays that prevent them from completing the work on time. Many companies use a screen and time monitoring system to track their VA’s progress and ensure they’re clocking in the correct hours. 

However, that’s a personal decision and comes down to the level of trust you have in your VA. 

Virtual Assistants are Able to Multitask

If we were to list out the top five areas a virtual assistant must excel in, multitasking would certainly be one of them. After all, they will likely have multiple projects or tasks on their plate and they must be able to stay organized, keep things moving forward, and juggle multiple clients without breaking a sweat. 

Keeping a good schedule, knowing what to prioritize, and working efficiently is a vital component of a successful virtual assistant. 

They’re Able to Work Well Under Pressure

Things may get a little chaotic on your end, but you never want clients to see what’s going on behind the scenes. This is important for your VA to understand as well. 

They should place an emphasis on making each client feel as though they are the number one priority - regardless of how hectic the workload may be. 

Instances may occur where there’s a short turn-around time or a higher workload than normal, and your VA should be able to not only handle the pressure but refrain from passing on any stress or negativity to a client (even if it’s unintentional). 

They’re Great with Follow-Up

You’ve struck gold when you find a virtual assistant who can stay on top of all their tasks, even when a client may not. Sometimes things fall through the cracks on the client’s end, but your VA should possess the know-how to reach out and follow up - rather than just sitting on that task forever. 

For example, if your VA needs a client’s approval on a social ad you created and they don’t hear back from them after 2 or 3 days, they should follow up with an email or a phone call as a reminder to the client. 

VAs are Contributing to Business Growth

A virtual assistant that is truly skilled at their job will ultimately help your business grow. Whether it’s because they freed up your time to pursue new opportunities or their outstanding work resulted in an upsell or client referral, VA’s can contribute to your profitability when they possess the right skill sets.  

Hiring a virtual assistant can be a daunting task. After all, you want to find a highly qualified candidate that you can partner up with. But, if you keep the above qualities in mind while you’re on the hunt for a VA, it should make the hiring process a much easier one.

Publish Date: January 6, 2020


How to Speak with Customers Per Platform: The Ultimate Customer Service Guide

When you manage a seemingly endless number of customer service requests each day, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of each client interaction. With the business landscape becoming increasingly competitive year over year, delivering quality customer service can directly impact the success of your company. For customers on the receiving end, a single interaction with your company can completely alter their perception of your brand and services. Delivering poor customer service will not only damage your business’s reputation but it could have a direct, negative impact on your revenue. Because companies now communicate and engage with customers on a multitude of platforms, it’s essential to follow best practices for each one. 

Here’s a look at how you can amplify your customer service and implement best-in-class practices on the following 3 platforms: phone, email and social media. 

Customer Service via Phone 

Answer Quickly

Do you enjoy being kept on hold for an extended period of time? Heck no. Neither do customers. Always answer the call within two rings - this will help you begin with a great impression (especially if they’re calling your company for the first time). 

Let’s See Those Pearly Whites

Even though your customer cannot physically see you, if you smile when you talk, it’ll naturally create a pleasant and positive tone of voice. You’d be surprised how big of a difference smiling on the phone can make. 

Keep Your Greeting Concise

When receiving an inbound call, the first thing your customer expects is to be greeted by the company they intended to reach. For example, “Good morning/afternoon/evening A Better Answer, this is Mary, how may I help you?” So, keep it brief and help the customer get to their desired destination as quickly as possible (without being rude, of course). 

It is also best to provide a name so the customer knows exactly to whom they are speaking. It creates more of a personalized experience. 

Did You Just Interrupt the Caller? Gasp!

That’s a serious customer service faux pas. Never interrupt a complaining customer while they’re airing out their grievances. Your blood pressure may rise. You may have to bite your tongue. But as hard as it may be, it’s an essential part of creating a good experience for your customers. Staff should be trained to make sure all customers feel like they have been heard and understood. You need to make sure the customer feels like they are being heard and well taken care of. 

Always Keep the Customer Informed 

Your customer should always be in the know. Train your team to provide the client with a list of action items and next steps, followed by an expected timeframe that’s longer than necessary. 

Why? Because this gives you an opportunity to remedy their problem faster than anticipated, which makes it look like you really went to bat for them. This is how you create loyal customers and retain business. When you take longer than you stated, they’re going to be oh-so-angry with you.

Here’s an example of what you could say:

“After we hang up, here’s what I plan on doing. I’ll give the supplier a call and I’ll let them know you need another chair. Shipments to our store from the factory typically take a week. When it arrives, I’ll give you a ring, so you can either pick it up or have it shipped directly to you. In the meantime, I’m going to send you a return label for the damaged item. The new chair should arrive within two weeks. Again, I’m sorry for any inconvenience this has caused you, but I’m happy we were able to resolve it for you.”

Handle Angry Customer Like A Pro

First off, telling someone to calm down is not only rude, but it’ll most likely have the reverse effect and drive the customer into an even angrier state. Always respond to irate customers using reassuring language, such as “I can understand how you feel” or “wow, that’s incredibly frustrating!” This shows you empathize with them and you fully hear their complaint. All a customer is really looking for is to be understood and have their problems resolved. 

Customer Service via Email

Humanize Your Conversations

Personalize your interactions with the customer. Don’t view emails as transactional but rather as a conversation between two people. Clients want to feel they’re communicating with a real human being - not a robot or automated company messaging service. Use your name, have your photo in your signature and ensure you’re creating a relatable, authentic customer service experience. 

Remember to Say Thank You

Despite what you may think, a customer complaint is a golden opportunity to fix something other customers may experience (or have already experienced) - essentially helping your retention rates with other clients. Showing gratitude in business is a huge way to separate your brand’s customer service from a competitor. A simple “thank you for bringing that to our attention” holds a lot of power and will ultimately strengthen your relationship with that client. Always make sure your customer walks away from a conversation knowing you’re very appreciative of their feedback good or bad. 

Recommend a Fix or Promise a Result, and Deliver

Your customers can feel unimportant if they have to send you a follow-up email to check on the status of their request. That’s a serious palm to forehead moment. Whatever organization tactic works for you - whether it’s adding a note to your calendar or creating a task in your company’s CRM - make sure your customers know what to expect and deliver on your promise. 

Replace Negative Language with Positive Words 

The words you choose to you can have an immense impact on the way your customers interpret your emails. Make a concerted effort to replace any negative words with positive ones.  

Here’s an example:

Before: “Actually, you can just do this within the settings tab.”

After: “I’m happy to help! You can do this by clicking on the settings tab in the upper right-hand corner of your screen.” Feel free to add some personality or use a smiling emoji if you’d like (of course, only if this seems appropriate). 

Customer Service via Social Media 

Choose the Right Platform for Your Business

You need to go where your customers are. By using the social channel(s) they’re comfortable using, you’ll be able to deliver a more effective support experience as you’re leveraging their preferred network.

Be Quick with Responses

Our digital ecosystem has created heightened accessibility to social media. People can connect and interact on social platforms from virtually any location or device. This face-paced, “always-on” mentality has changed expectations among customers. 

Did you know that 42% of consumers expect to receive a response within 60 minutes on social media? That means, when it comes to social, your team should be making an effort to address complaints, inquiries, and reviews as quickly as possible to meet these expectations. 

Use the Right Tone of Voice

Just as in an email, your tone of voice is an essential part of providing excellent customer support. This can sometimes be challenging to pull off when platforms, like Twitter, impose character limits on Tweets. To get your tone just right, you should always tailor your language to mirror that of your customers

For example: Are they using slang, emojis, or exclamation points? If so, this means you can reciprocate in a similar manner, but always remain professional.

Likewise, if your client sounds frustrated or angry, you want to turn up your empathy and communicate in a tone that’s reassuring, understanding, and apologetic. 

Know When to Take the Conversation Offline

While it’s crucial you always listen and respond to your clients through social networks, there will be times when the issue at hand simply cannot be resolved within the platform. When these circumstances arise, it’s perfectly fine to transfer your communication to another medium, such as phone or email.  

In order to accomplish this, you need to handle it the right way. Simply directing your customer to email or call for further assistance is going to come off as apathetic, rude, and lacking empathy. No customer wants to just keep getting passed from one person to the next, or one channel to the next, with no actual action taking place to help resolve their issue. Instead, you want to come off as eager to help, using a friendly tone and demonstrating you truly care for the customer and helping them come to a resolution. 

Final Thoughts

Let’s face it: There’s always room for improvement when it comes to customer service efforts. 

Because the level and quality of your customer service will ultimately dictate the success (or downfall) of your business, you may want to consider employing the help of a professional answering service who have the expertise to not only handle customer service initiatives but they are trained to handle a variety of situations - from the good, the bad, the ugly - when it comes to speaking with your clients. What’s more, they are typically cheaper than hiring an in-house customer service rep. So, why not give it a try? You can elevate your customer experience to a whole new level with the right talent and techniques in play. 

Publish Date: December 16, 2019

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

ABOUT US IN 60 seconds!

Sponsor Message

Newsletter Registration

Please check to agree to be placed on the eNewsletter mailing list.

Latest Americas Newsletter
session userid =
session UserTempID = 2428bc79-9636-411b-8991-d9e474898b61
session adminlevel =
session blnTempHelpChatShow =
session blnTempHelpChatShow =
session Country = 15abe8f6-2a8f-4dc5-9070-6cdf51b7a853
session cookie set = True
session page-view-total = 1
applicaiton blnAwardsClosed =
session blnCompletedAwardInterestPopup =
session blnCheckNewsletterInterestPopup =
session blnCompletedNewsletterInterestPopup =