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A Better Answer - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog

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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 5:00 AM


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 5:00 AM


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 5:00 AM


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 5:00 AM


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 5:00 AM


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 5:00 AM


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 5:00 AM


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 5:00 AM


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 5:00 AM


8 Customer Service Skills Every Employee Should Know

How you deal with customers can make or break your business. Good customer service is a skill every employee who interacts with your clients must develop.

The last thing your business needs is a negative review, especially one that remarks how rude or ineffective an employee was. A positive customer service experience, even after poor customer experience, can often mean the difference between giving your business another chance or storming off to a competitor. 

You can’t always control what happens, but you can control how you handle and react to issues if they pop up and make sure your customers’ experience is overall positive. 

In this article, we look at the skills your employees need to best deal with customers.

The 8 Most Important Skills For Customer Service

Empathy

What exactly is empathy in the context of customer service? Empathy is the ability to understand and connect with a customer’s feelings, even when you cannot fix it. This is just as important as patience - which is next - because we've all been in similar situations. It's helpful for both the employee and customer to understand where the customer is coming from. What problem do they have? And why are they frustrated?

Sometimes you can't give the customer the answer they want but if you show you care about their problem and strive to steer them in the right direction, the interaction will go more smoothly than if you dismiss them or insinuate the problem is their fault.

Patience

Patience is one of the most important customer service skills any employee need. Whether it’s an employee dealing with a frustrated caller who needs technical support or if they’re in a retail environment helping a customer who can't decide on which dress to buy - you must have patience. The key is having employees understand how it feels on the other side to be frustrated or confused and just want someone to listen and solve the problem. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes makes it easier to empathize with their plight.

SURE... Sometimes customers ask irrelevant questions or don't seem to grasp what you're saying; that's where patience comes in. 

Maintaining composure no matter what is crucial to providing top-notch service and solving the problem.

Clear Communications

Getting to the heart of the problem is critical to help the customer and solve their issue. That's why communication between the employee and your customer must be clear. Miscommunication manifests in further frustration for both.

Employees must as clear as they can about what they can and cannot do and what will solve the problem. Don't overstate or oversell to appease the customer because that will almost always backfire and leave the customer dissatisfied and send them to your competitor.

Knowledge of the Product

One thing many customers find annoying is when they have questions about a product or service and the person to whom they're speaking doesn't have answers. If you're selling a product or service, you should know it inside and out. Failing to understand what you're talking about is a sure way to engender mistrust from your customers. Remember, people see the employee as an expert, so they must be the expert.

Keep Language Positive

Positive language helps put a good face on the business and makes the customers feel more at ease about engaging. 

For example, if a customer contacts you about a service, but your company has discontinued it, you should say, "We've got a new service that replaces that one and it offers more value," rather than, "We don't offer that anymore."

Read Between the Lines

Many customer interactions today take place online or via phone so one can't read a person's facial expressions. Being able to read between the lines helps to not misread a customer and end up losing them because of miscommunication.If speaking on the phone, listen carefully to the tone of voice to pick up clues as to the person's mood and level of patience. This skill is crucial to keep interactions positive and have a satisfactory result.

Quick Learning

So, not every customer interaction goes as planned which is why employees must have the ability to adapt quickly to situations as they arise. Sometimes a customer throws a curve and asks a question for which you're not prepared. The ability to think fast, react and solve the problem often means the difference between a satisfied and disgruntled customer.

Ability to Close

When people think about closing, they think about closing a sale. But in this case, we mean ending the interaction between the employee and your customer. The goal here is to end the engagement with a satisfied customer or as close as you can get.If the customer's problem isn't fixed now, are they satisfied it will be in due time? Make sure before the call or interaction ends, the customer is confident  you've handled everything to the best of your ability, and the issue is or will be resolved.

Can A Call Center Help With Customer Service? Yes, It Can!

So, maybe you've never given thought to hire a call center to handle your customer service engagements, but here are a few reasons why you should consider it.

#1: You Won’t Miss Calls

Call centers can catch all of your calls, which means they won't miss a potential lead. It's frustrating for a customer to call in need of help, and they can't get hold of a person to talk to. If you can't handle the call volume, a call center makes sense.

#2: They Are the Experts

Call center personnel are highly trained representatives to handle customer service calls efficiently and professionally. The customer today has hundreds of choices to go to if they don't get help from you. Remember, your competitor is just a search away. So, keep those customers by satisfying them when they call you first by letting a call center take care of it.

#3: Opportunity to Improve

Call centers record calls which are reviewed frequently to ensure the employees are handling interactions correctly and to the customer's satisfaction. Recording calls offer the employee and management where they can improve to provide an increased level of service.

Almost every successful business is successful because they have excellent customer service. Without customers buying your product or service, your company wouldn't exist. We hope this article showed you what skills your employees need to deal effectively with customers, and how a call center may be the right move to improve your business/consumer relations.

Publish Date: December 4, 2019 5:00 AM


How Does an Answering Service Work?

Answering services are still a favorable way to do business today, especially in the B2B world. First impressions are everything so leaving the first point of contact many of your clients will have with your business to an already overloaded employee may not be a risk you want to take. 

If you’re on the fence about hiring an answering service, this article will answer your questions and give you a better idea if going down this road is the right choice for you.

What Is An Answering Service?

The first question you may have is “what is an answering service, anyway?” In a nutshell, an answering service handles communications for various companies. While traditional answering services deal with inbound and outbound phone calls, today’s answering services also handle emails, replying to text messages, and cold calling, which is a service many businesses find useful.

If you’re thinking about hiring an answering service, keep in mind that these agencies go by various names depending on what capabilities they offer: 

Virtual Receptionist Services This type of agency performs the same tasks that any receptionist would in an office. These tasks include answering phone calls, transferring them to the proper contact, and giving out any necessary information that a caller may need such as office hours or location.

Virtual Office Service The virtual office agency performs similar functions of a virtual receptionist, however, they also can offer you a physical mailing address and temporary meeting spaces. This can be a great option for startups or businesses that operate remotely. 

Automated Answering Service The automated service doesn’t use live agents; they base their service on voice response. So while not a traditional answering service, this company allows customers to leave messages or go through a series of prompts to get the information they need. You’re probably familiar with this kind of service if you’ve ever called for support and been instructed to press 1 or 2 for different options. 

Internet Answering Service Most internet answering services aren’t like traditional answering services; similar to the option above. The internet service provider offers email or chat help, and other online-based support. Internet answering services also don't typically provide live agent support.

Call Centers Most people are familiar with call centers. Love them or hate them, they offer a valuable service for companies who need external live operators to handle customer support issues and a large volume of calls. Most people think of telemarketers when they hear call center, but that’s only one function they perform. Many exist to help customers with technical support or to be the first line of communication between a company and their customers. 

Purpose Of The Answering Service

On its face: 

The answering service exists to answer calls, make calls, and dole out information on behalf of a company. 

The benefit to these agencies is that they’re able to provide a service to small and medium-sized companies who don’t have the financial resources to hire an in-house team to handle their volume of calls. 

Also, many business owners are too busy outside the office to take calls themselves, such as doctors, plumbers, and electricians. The answering service allows them to take calls and not lose the business to a competitor.

How Do They Work?

Many companies use answering services because they provide valuable assistance capabilities that the company can’t do in-house. But how do they work?

Automated Answering Service

The automated answering service typically goes something like this: Press 1 for technical support, press 2 for billing, press 3 for company hours, and press 4 for a live operator. Sound familiar? The goal of these answering services is to get the customer the help they need without having to speak to a live operator.

Live Answering Service

Live answering services are the opposite as they use live agents for the primary contact when a customer calls in. A live operator can work in a call center from home as a virtual receptionist. Many business owners prefer live answering services as they want their customers to speak to a real person and get the answers to their questions quicker. 

Call Center

The call center is often confused with answering services, even though both can perform many of the same functions. Most call centers work with one company to handle all of their incoming communications, and it’s not uncommon for a call center to employ hundreds of people while an answering service is usually a more intimate operation.

So: 

While many companies opt for an automated system, customers often prefer live answering services as mentioned. 

Automated is cheaper, but when you factor in the frustration that some callers incur when trying to navigate an automated menu system it might not be the best trade-off.

A live answering service benefits the company and the customer by reducing the time the customer has to wait to speak to a representative. Live receptionists are better able to provide customers with the proper information or direct them to the correct point of contact more quickly. 

All in all, this makes the interaction more pleasant for the customer, which is key in a customer service driven environment. 

How Can An Answering Service Benefit You?

Now that you know what an answering service does and how they work, it’s helpful to understand how you can benefit from hiring one. 

Here are just a few of the services these agencies offer that can help your business:

  • Call screening
  • After hours or weekend call answering
  • Handling high volume calls during holidays
  •  Make sure all calls are answered, and customers get help
  •  Record and deliver messages
  • Set appointments
  • Text and email communication
  • Customer service and technical support

While an answering service isn’t for everybody, they can benefit many business owners who experience a high volume of calls or don’t have the resources to hire an in-house team. If you think this type of service sounds like exactly what you need, read this article to learn more about the cost of hiring a call center to get started.

Publish Date: October 16, 2019 5:00 AM


What Does a Call Center Representative Do?

The outsourcing world is divided into different service sectors, and two of these sectors are the most crucial to success: call center services and virtual assistant services. 

We’re going to talk about call center representatives, their duties, and the skills that they need to be successful. 

What is a Call Center Representative?

Whether they know it or not, most people have spoken to a call center representative at some point. 

If you’ve called your phone, internet, or cable provider with questions, the first person you spoke to was likely one of the company’s call center representatives. 

First and foremost, they’re responsible for maintaining customer relations and aim for customer satisfaction. They resolve customer issues in whatever way they can, and they aim to do so as quickly and as efficiently as possible. 

Call Center Representatives vs. Virtual Assistants

Call center representatives and virtual assistants are often confused as interchangeable. However, the two positions are more different than most people realize. 

The general confusion is understandable, as both are required to be experts in the field of customer relations. However, virtual assistants and these representatives basically operate in two different sectors

Both virtual assistants and call center representatives are extremely important, but each job title comes with its list of duties and necessary skills. 

Virtual Assistants 

Typically, virtual assistants work remotely, and they usually assist in a wide variety of day to day tasks. Virtual assistants typically take care of the more time-consuming tasks such as social media management, bookkeeping, taking care of travel accommodations, making cold calls, etc. 

A virtual assistant’s responsibilities can also include a variety of creative tasks such as graphic design, video editing, and content writing. 

If asked to do so, a virtual assistant will sometimes act as a call center representative, but their responsibilities typically include a much broader range of tasks that a growing company no longer has the time to do. 

Call Center Representatives 

Comparatively, these representatives handle tasks that tend to be more tedious and repetitive. Like virtual assistants, they work within the customer service and customer relations sector. However, their responsibilities tend to be more consistent. 

In a general sense, they are responsible for helping customers with whatever they happen to need when they call. 

Furthermore:

They need to have a thorough understanding of their company’s inner workings to resolve customer issues as quickly and effectively as possible. 

If you want to learn more about the differences between call center representatives and virtual assistants, you can check out this article that expands further on the topic. 

What are their Duties?

These representatives usually answer customer phone calls, maintain customer satisfaction to the extent that they can, keep customer records up to date, and resolve customer issues if they’re able to do so.

If a call center representative can’t deal with a customer’s issue directly, they’ll direct the customer to the appropriate team. If they do this correctly, the team should be able to resolve the issue. 

A call center representative must understand the logistics that make their company run smoothly. 

If a call center representative can’t direct the customer to the appropriate team, that customer has to endure being redirected over and over again, which never looks good for a company. 

They have to deal with a very fast-paced work environment. Whether or not they succeed at rising through the ranks depends entirely on how many calls they can handle in a given period. 

For this reason, speed is key when it comes to being a successful call center representative. 

Necessary Skills for a Call Center Representative

One of the most important skills for a call center representative is simply people skills. On any given day, they usually interact with more people than most ever will within such a short period. 

For some people, this can be somewhat exhausting. A seasoned call center representative can handle the workload without bending under the pressure. 

As previously mentioned:

A call center representative must understand the minutiae of their company’s inner workings. 

After all, they’re the first line of defense when it comes to customer calls. With any given call, they either need to be able to resolve the problem, or they need to know which team to direct the customer to. 

Additionally, because their jobs are so speed-oriented, they must remain focused and sharp to do their jobs well. Furthermore, being well-organized certainly doesn’t hurt, as this will help contribute to their overall speed. 

A Business’ Unsung Heroes 

A call center representative’s job can be challenging. However, like any new employee, a new call center representative will typically adapt and become proficient within their line of work. 

That isn’t to say that this job can be done by anyone. For some people, especially those that are introverted, dealing with many different people on a daily basis can be exhausting. 

It’s a difficult job at times, but it’s a position that’s essential to the functionality, efficiency, and success of any company. 

So, the next time you become frustrated during a call with your cable provider, remember that you might just be the two hundredth person the representative has talked to and they’re just trying to help.

Publish Date: October 2, 2019 5:00 AM


March 2019 Call Handling Hero®

Call Handling Hero® — Heather

Our March Call Handling Hero® award goes to Heather! Her ability to think of alternative solutions in a timely manner helped a patient find their way to the hospital.

Heather received a call from an elderly patient instructed by her physician to make her way to the nearest hospital. Unfortunately, the patient's son was unreachable by phone and she did not want to travel by ambulance. With time running short, Heather remained on the phone with the patient to find the best solution to her transportation issues. Heather came up with a great alternative idea; she provided the phone number of the office at the patient's senior living complex and was able to help her find transportation through them. Way to be resourceful, Heather! 

Good clients and great TSR's make A Better Answer the better answer.

Source: https://www.abetteranswer.com/blog/march-2019-call-handling-hero

Publish Date: April 16, 2019 5:00 AM


February 2019 Call Handling Hero®

Call Handling Hero® — Martha and Pam

For February's Call Handling Hero® recognition, we're celebrating two awesome responders – Martha, our winner, and Pam, our runner up!

February Call Handling Hero® Winner – Martha 
A Better Answer's very own detective, Martha helped resolve a situation with one of our newest clients. This client is currently in the process of integrating their own new clients on a very large scale, and as with any large data transfer project,  typos happen.

In this case, it was a return address for their clients to make payments. During a routine call, Martha noticed the return address was incorrectly printed on the bill that had been mailed to our client’s customer. After providing the correct information to the caller, Martha then reached out to the client to let them know of the error so they could fix the problem in their system. In the end, Martha helped the client save man hours and prevent customer dissatisfaction!


February Call Handling Hero® Runner Up – Pam
Always supportive in times of need, Pam took a call on a Houston Home Health account for their Dallas office. Apparently, something happened with the call forwarding for the Dallas office, and their calls were not reaching us to hand off to their on-call person. Pam quickly recognized the issue and reached out to the Houston on-call for assistance. Afterwards, Dallas was reached to have the urgent message delivered. Way to go, Pam!

Good clients and great TSR's make A Better Answer the better answer.

Source: https://www.abetteranswer.com/blog/feb-2019-call-handling-hero

Publish Date: March 29, 2019 5:00 AM


November 2018 Call Handling Hero®

Call Handling Hero® — Pam

Our November Call Handling Hero® Pam from our Houston office showed how seemingly unimportant details are actually quite the opposite. For this particular account, electronic responses usually include identifiers to assist dispatchers in delivering any pending messages. But, on this day, she noticed that the responses were oddly formatted. 

Because she lacked the necessary information to deliver any of the pending messages, she contacted the on-call person. The on-call was surprised to hear from us, since we normally leave everything to the electronic responses, and mentioned that she hadn't received any messages. Pam pulled the number programmed in order for her to confirm, only to be surprised that it belonged to an employee who no longer worked for the company.

Pam immediately took steps to remedy the situation for the rest of the weekend and notified programming for all the changes needed. Everything was fixed and the customer was ecstatic. Good clients and great TSR's make A Better Answer the better answer.

Source: https://www.abetteranswer.com/blog/nov-2018-call-handling-hero

Publish Date: January 22, 2019 5:00 AM

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