A Courteous Communications - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog
The holiday season can be a stressful time, as everyone knows. With Black Friday stress starting off the chaos, there’s a lot to think about through the next few months, and running a business through the holidays can add even more to your to do list. While you’re worrying about what to get your mom for Christmas and how to balance your marketing budget, your customers are being forgotten. To ensure you don’t lose any sales or anger any clients, employing an answering service will help your holiday season run a bit more smoothly.
What Can an Answering Service Do?
Before you jump right in, I’m sure you’re wondering how an answering service can work with you to help your customers. No matter the industry, your business can benefit from an answering service. If you have clients or customers who call you far too often during the day, a virtual receptionist will help you to better organize and answer your calls. If you have patients who call after office hours when you cannot help them, an answering service can give medical advice to your patients. Customer service is their job so you can focus on other things.
What if I Go on Vacation?
The holidays are a time for family and fun, so if part of your holiday tradition is to fly to Europe and visit your family, your business won’t have to suffer. An answering service will be able to help your customers with any issues they may have while you’re gone! Customers will be happy and you will be relaxed and your business will be waiting for you when you get back.
What About After the Holidays are Over?
If you find yourself not needing help with your customer service after the holiday season is over, you can end your plan with your answering service! They are here to help your business grow and succeed as long as you need them. The holidays are crazy for everyone and if things calm down afterwards, you have no obligation to keep your plan active.
Don’t let your holiday stress spill over into your customer service, work with an answering service! Your customers will appreciate the dedication to their happiness and you will have more time to worry about other important things for your business. Take the time to call us and learn more about how A Courteous Communications can help you get through this holiday season.
Publish Date: November 3, 2017
Everyday our telephone messaging service receives questions about what we do and how we do it. We handle millions of caller transactions every year and are proud of our award-winning services. If you’re a business owner that wants to ask a few questions before outsourcing your business telephone calls, take a look at the top 10 questions received and how we answer each inquiry.
1. How Does an Answering Service Work?
To use an answering service, all you have to do is follow these easy steps:
- 1.) Forward Your Business Calls When You Need Them Answered.
- 2.) Access Your Messages and Virtual Receptionist Team 24/7.
- 3.) Step 3: Unforward Your Business Lines Anytime You Would Like to Answer Your Calls.
An answering service will handle all of your incoming phone calls; take and deliver messages in real-time; schedule, confirm and cancel your appointments; and provide elite customer service to your callers.
2. Who Much Does an Answering Service Cost?
Depending on the type of telecommunication services your business needs, the rates and packages vary greatly. We have a highly detailed article dedicated to this question: How Much Does an Answering Service Cost?
If your business receives low call volumes, you could take advantage of our super value package that starts at just $20 per month. If you’re in the medical industry and are in need of a medical answering service that is HIPAA compliant, our rates start at just $59 each month.
When researching various answering services, be on the lookout for these common hidden fees:
- • One-Time Setup Fees
- • Standard Monthly Fees
- • Rental Fees for 1-800 and Local Telephone Numbers
- • Phone Message Delivery Fees
- • Charges for Updates and Changes to Account
- • Cost Per Minute vs Cost Per Call Fee Differences
Check out the article referenced above to take a deeper look into the fees associated with virtual receptionists.
3. Who Will Answer My Business Phone Lines?
Unless you specifically select an auto attendant service, your lines will be answered by REAL HUMAN BEINGS. Our highly skilled virtual receptionist team is provided custom training to answer your business’s lines according to your exact specifications. Our main office is located in Orlando, Florida and our doors are always open to our customers.
To give you an in-depth, behind the scenes look at our call center, check out our article: 10 Rules Our Virtual Receptionists Must Follow. In the article, we discuss the following rules our team abides by to ensure excellent customer service:
- 1.) No cellphones permitted at workstations.
- 2.) No food or drink allowed when answering phone lines.
- 3.) Gum and candy is prohibited while working.
- 4.) Strict adherence to break and lunch schedules.
- 5.) Always confirming vital information of caller.
- 6.) We’re never “just” the answering service when it comes to your customers.
- 7.) “I don’t know,” is not in our vocabulary.
- 8.) We always encourage all callers to take action.
- 9.) Our business answering service is constantly under surveillance.
- 10.) Always striving for courteous, friendly and helpful customer service.
When you hire A Courteous Communications, rest assured knowing that professional receptionists are providing your callers with award-winning customer service; all day every day.
4. Do I Get Charged for Overtime or Weekend Work?
One of the greatest benefits of having virtual receptionists answer your business calls is that you never pay for overtime, weekend and holiday work. As the employer, we retain the responsibility to provide employee benefits and packages.
All of our virtual receptionists enjoy the perks of working at A Courteous Communications:
- • Great vacation, sick and holiday PTO benefits;
- • Affordable health and dental insurance packages;
- • Anniversary, birthday, bridal and baby shower parties;
- • Holiday parties, staff potlucks and special treats throughout the year;
- • Flextime and late shift incentives.
5. How Do You Know What to Say to My Callers?
Hiring a telephone messaging service is a big step for many business owners that feel weary about outsourcing their telephone lines. As the client, you have complete control of the greeting, script and disposition of each call your business receives.
Make sure the digital call center you end up going with gives you 100% customization options for your account. Just to name a few, here are some ways you can lay out your preferences:
- • The specific, uniform greeting all of your callers will receive.
- • Standard answers to your customers’ FAQs.
- • What constitutes an emergency and which callers get forwarded to you after-hours.
- • The days and times you would like appointments scheduled on your calendar.
- • An employee list with direct extensions to streamline call forwarding.
6. What Information Do You Take Down in a Message?
Again, we can be as detailed as you prefer when customizing your account. Our standard message intake form includes:
- • Name and correct spelling of each caller.
- • Confirmed contact telephone number of caller.
- • Detailed message regarding the reason for the call.
Our virtual receptionists will then email, text, fax or call you with the phone message upon completion of the call. If you need the email address of your caller, we can take that information down as well.
Basically, we can take down whatever information you’d like to gather from each of your callers.
7. How Do I Know When I Miss a Call?
The moment a phone message is taken on your business’s account, you will be forwarded the message in real-time. Depending on your preference, you can have the phone message delivered via:
- • SMS Text Message
- • Email Message
- • Facsimile Transmission
- • Pager or Beeper Message
- • Personal Phone Call
Our state of the art technology and equipment ensures that your business information is secure and protected. A Courteous Communications is a digital call center that is HIPAA compliant and treats all messages as sensitive and confidential.
To further protect our client accounts, all virtual receptionists are required to sign a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement upon being hired.
8. What Happens When I Get an Emergency Call?
There’s a reason most business owners eat, sleep and live with their work cellphones nearby. We’ve spent the last three decades teaching our clients that a missed phone call equates to a missed opportunity. Does that mean we should wake you up at 3am on a Sunday with a mundane, administrative call? Of course not.
An experienced, structured and well-trained business answering service will be able to detect what constitutes an emergency and requires immediate action. When you first setup your account with us, we will discuss the types of emergencies your business receives.
When a caller does meet the qualifications of an emergency, we will then follow your exact procedures. This can look like:
- • A virtual receptionist will ask a series of questions to determine if the call is an emergency.
- • After the call is prescreened, the emergency caller is placed on a brief hold.
- • The virtual receptionist will immediately call the person on-call for such an emergency.
- • After discussing the type of emergency call, the virtual receptionist will patch the caller through to the on-call employee. Or, follow your instructions to a T.
9. Can You Field Answers to Caller’s FAQs?
We have many articles that detail why a business owner should not answer their own business lines. As the CEO, you have more pressing matters at hand than informing a caller of your business hours. Stop trying to do it all yourself and hire a virtual telephone support staff.
- • How to Manage Your Time at Work by Outsourcing and Delegating
- • How a Technical Support Answering Service Can Help Field Your Calls
- • 10 Facts About Hiring a Virtual Live Receptionist Service
- • 3 Ways a Virtual Office Receptionist Can Help With Non-Revenue Generating Distractions
Take a look around our blog and you’ll find many other articles that focus on how we can act as an extension of your in-house team.
10. What if I Want to Cancel My Answering Services?
We can only speak for how we do business; so keep that in mind. But here at A Courteous Communications, there are no long-term annual commitments. We offer month-to-month services and only ask that our clients give us a 30-day notice of their intent to cancel services.
Be sure to ask the business answering services you’re researching what their personal cancellation policy is before signing up.
Our Telephone Messaging Service is here to answer all of your questions!
There you have it, the answers to the top 10 questions our telephone messaging service receives on a daily basis. We hope this helps you better understand the basics of a digital call center.
If you have a specific question that wasn’t addressed in this article, please don’t hesitate to reach out and start the conversation. We can be reached via telephone at 1-800-785-6161 or you can submit your question here and we’ll get back to you with an answer.
Publish Date: May 10, 2017
Entrepreneurs are constantly trying to keep their overhead costs and operational expenses as low as possible. In this article, our digital call center shows you how you can save money by outsourcing business calls.
Saving Money by Outsourcing Business Calls
1. Electronic communication saves your business money.
Our virtual receptionists are very green in that they utilize electronic solutions to assist you with your calling customers. After taking a detailed electronic message, we then deliver the message via email message or sms text. Sending electronic invoices and digital monthly call tracking reports also helps us to completely take paper out of your business’s internal and external communications.
Keep in mind that the average American office worker:
- • Uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper every year.
- • Goes through around 500 disposable cups over the course of 12 months.
- • Confesses to taking office products for use at home.
Taking these statistics into consideration, how much money would your business save if you outsourced your customer service lines to a digital call center?
2. We pay employee benefits so you don’t have to.
The average employer needs to allocate a certain amount of money towards their employee benefit packages. The Bureau of Labor recently shared that, on average, each employee benefit package costs the employer about 31.4% of that employee’s salary.
Here at A Courteous Communications, we provide our virtual receptionists with employee benefit packages so you don’t have to. Enjoy 24/7 phone coverage without having to worry about:
- • Vacation and Sick Time Pay
- • Overtime and/or Holiday Pay
- • Christmas and Performance Bonuses
- • Office Parties and Team Events
- • Contributing to Health Insurance Premiums
- • Maternity and Paternity Leave
Your business will only be responsible for paying a low monthly service fee and we’ll take care of the rest.
3. A $33,451 salary turns into a $648 annual investment.
Here’s how you really can save money by outsourcing business calls to a virtual receptionist team. Consider replacing your full-time, onsite receptionist today and watch your expenses shed like they just ran a marathon.
How much, on average, does an in-house receptionist make? Salary.com shares that, “The median annual receptionist salary [in America] is $33,451, as of February 22, 2017, with a range usually between $30,035 – $37,501.”
Now let’s look at how much a full-time virtual receptionist team, answering your phone 24-hours a day, would cost. Let’s say that you opt for our most popular standard service package.
- • Monthly Service Fee | $49 (includes 100 free calls each month)
If your business experiences a steady flow of calls throughout the month, you’ll most likely enjoy this monthly standard package. Your first 100 calls are free and all additional calls are charged at just $0.45 per call. If your business received an average of 150 calls per month, the per call charges would be an additional $22.50 each month.
- • Monthly Message Delivery Fee | $5
Enjoy messages delivered to you via email or sms text for a low monthly fee of just $5.
- • Total Annual Salary for a Virtual Receptionist:
Annual Service Fees: $588
1,200 Calls Included: FREE
Per Call Charges: $270 (estimated at 50 additional calls per month)
Message Delivery Fees: $60
24/7/365 Phone Coverage: FREE
Award Winning Customer Service: FREE
Taking this example answering service package into consideration, your annual investment would be roughly $918. That’s a 97.26% decrease in your company’s annual payroll expenses!
If your business gets extremely low call volumes and doesn’t exceed the 100 free call allotment each month, your investment would be just $648 for the year.
Read more about our pricing and plans here.
4. Be more productive with income generating work.
If you answer your own telephone lines, we’re really glad you found this article and found our 30-year-old answering service. We find that many small business owners have all their calls forwarded to their personal cellphone. But as a business owner, you need to keep your focus on tasks that directly generate revenue.
That being said, do you know the value of your time? We have published many articles that outline how important it is for a business owner to sit down and calculate the true worth of their time. In our article, How to Manage Your Time at Work by Outsourcing and Delegating, we walk you through different equations to arrive at your hourly worth.
Putting a dollar amount on your worth will allow you to properly manage and handle your time by constantly asking, “Is this worth my time?”
5. We track your monthly calls so you don’t have to.
If you’re a savvy marketeer as well as entrepreneur, you know the importance of tracking your calls and leads. Why buy an expensive app or confusing software; we can help! Our services include a tracking report that is provided to you at the end of the month that details all incoming and outgoing calls.
Since our customers can fully customize their account details, we can help keep track of multi-channel marketing efforts. For instance, if you have a 1-800 number that is specifically associated with your social media marketing campaign, you can opt to receive a monthly report that shows how many calls you received on that telephone number. If you have ads in your community newspapers, we can track your local number as well in the same report.
Don’t have a 1-800 number to designate to multiple, ongoing marketing campaigns? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. We have thousands of available toll free numbers, as well as local numbers all around the U.S. that you can use to track your marketing ROI.
Let us help your business save money this year!
What are you waiting for? Save money by outsourcing business calls today! Give us a call now at 1-800-785-6161 to speak with an account specialist or request a quote here.
Publish Date: March 16, 2017
Providing superior service to customers during all interactions can be a daunting task for some small business owners. Excellent service should be your constant priority, but sometimes a busy SMB owner can have trouble keeping up with all the moving parts of their business.
To help you out, here are 20 ways you can easily and instantly improve customer service as early as today.
Easy Ways to Improve Customer Service Instantly
1.) Answer Your Telephone
It may sound silly, but the simple act of answering your business line every single time it rings will instantly increase your customer satisfaction levels. Someone is calling your business because they need you; answer their call and be available.
2.) Solve a Problem Weekly
If you make a commitment to solving one problem a week, by the end of the year, you’ll have solved over 50 problems within your organization. Choose problems that are related to customer service and focus on finding solutions that keep your customers happy.
3.) Take a Customer Service Call
Find time in your day to personally take a customer service call every now and then. Remember that, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
4.) Create a FAQ Website Page
Your customers are satisfied when they can find the information they seek quickly and effortlessly. If your website doesn’t have a section dedicated to answering your business’s FAQs, it’s time to start writing that content.
5.) Google Your Business
Open yourself up to listening to what your customers are saying about your company, products and/or services. Read all reviews and make note of what you’re doing right and what needs improvement.
6.) Be Your Own Customer
Want to instantly improve customer service with a really easy fix? Use your product and/or service daily. If your product doesn’t meet your own high standards – being the customer – you’re going to want to make changes until your 100% happy and satisfied.
7.) Talk to Your Staff
Call a staff meeting and ask lots of questions. Find out if your team has any suggestions to improve customer service. Reward employees that take initiative.
8.) Send a Satisfaction Survey
Shoot an email to everyone on your customer list and politely ask them for their feedback. For tips on organizing a satisfaction survey read: 5 Creative Ways to Gather Customer Feedback.
9.) Add a Search Function Now
Your website needs a search function if you’re sharing content. A search function is a feature that allows your visitors to easily find information on your website. You can place a free one on your site or have your developer build one.
10.) Anticipate Customers’ Needs
Start training your team to think about anticipating your customers’ wants and needs so you’re always ahead of the game.
11.) Offer Human Assistance
Not everyone wants to send a message or email; some of your customers want to talk to a human being. Give your customers a chance to speak one-on-one with a live representative and instantly improve customer service.
12.) Start a Team Challenge
Break up your employees into teams and create an employee contest to encourage healthy competition. Make customer service the main challenge and reward the winners with prizes they can use as a team.
13.) Lower Your Hold Times
When calling a business, “75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent.” Have the phone coverage you need to decrease your customers hold times. Consider outsourcing calls to a digital call center that only charges for the calls they take on your behalf.
14.) Call Old Customers
Look at your customer lists and reach out to anyone that has not purchased from you recently. Start a conversation and try to learn why they’ve been away and how you can earn back their business.
15.) Say Please and Thank You
Offer courteous customer service and watch how even just a small display of manners will increase your overall customer satisfaction.
16.) Offer Multilingual Assistance
Nothing says close personal attention like offering customer service in your caller’s native language. This customer service booster will help you reach broader markets and cater to new customers.
17.) Enter Customer Service Contests
No matter what industry you’re in, you can find a customer service contest to enter. Having your service monitored is going to keep your employees on their toes. It’ll also help you understand how to improve your customer service practices based on the grades received.
18.) Create Customer Service Policies
Before an employee answers customer service calls on behalf of your company, you have to first put them through extensive training. And before you can train anyone, you need a set of rules, policies and procedures when it comes to your expectations.
19.) Make Time to Write Content
A large part of providing elite service is making sure that your customers are constantly assisted. Start writing How To articles that help your audience solve a specific problem.
20.) Offer 24/7 Customer Service
Allow your customers to reach out with their questions and orders 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Offering a 24-hour hotline shows your customers that you take their time and satisfaction very seriously.
Try as many of these tips as possible if you want to instantly improve customer service in your business.
Need Help Improving Your Customer Service?
If you need help, we have award winning virtual receptionists that would be able to give you 24-hour phone coverage. Give us a call today at 1-800-785-6161 to speak with an account specialist and receive a custom quote.
Publish Date: January 17, 2017
We don’t want to burst any entrepreneurial bubbles, but, “Only 8% of Americans that make a New Year’s resolution, achieve their resolution.” How can a business owner beat this sad statistic?
Hiring a virtual live receptionist service this year is guaranteed to increase your chances of achieving these common New Year’s resolutions:
- • I want to attract new/more customers this year;
- • I want to be able to afford to hire help in 2017;
- • I want to better manage my time to make the most out of my workday; or
- • I want to achieve a healthier work-life balance in 2017.
How a Virtual Live Receptionist Service Can Help Keep Your Business New Year’s Resolution:
Business New Year’s Resolution: Attract New Customers
If your number one business goal for 2017 is to attract new customers, a team of virtual receptionists can help you in a variety of ways. Outsourcing your business lines gives you the capability to reach a broader market by providing:
- • 24-hour phone coverage to assist customers in different time zones.
- • Multilingual telephone agents to provide customer service in different languages.
- • Scheduling services to continuously add new meetings and consultations 24/7.
- • Qualified telephone agents to process new orders with award winning customer service.
- • A 24-hour customer assistance hotline that assists new marketing campaigns.
Show your new leads that you make customer service a priority by giving them the option to reach out to your company on their timetable. This 24-hour personal attention will give your potential customers the confidence to choose your brand over your competition.
Business New Year’s Resolution: Hire Affordable Help
Unless you have severe control issues, all small business owners wish they could hire employees to help handle the workload. However, when first starting out, many SMB owners can’t afford an extra set of hands.
Outsourcing your telephone lines and administrative tasks to a team of virtual assistants can be an affordable investment that yields high returns. Some of our service packages can cost as little as $19.95 per month, $0.75 per call and even includes 50+ free calls each month.
How can a virtual receptionist be this cost-effective? It’s simple, you’re going to share your virtual receptionist with other business. Your small business is not going to be receiving calls every minute of every hour. This allows our team of virtual receptionists to answer your lines, together with our other customers’ lines 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Dividing up a virtual receptionist’s hourly rate between multiple businesses allows us to offer continuous phone coverage for a dramatic fraction of the cost an in-house employee would cost you. This system also allows us to charge you only for the calls taken on your behalf. So if you don’t receive any incoming calls, you don’t incur any extra fees for having someone on-call 24/7.
Business New Year’s Resolution: Focus on Only Revenue Generating Tasks
Many business owners are forced to answer their own telephone calls and handle menial administrative tasks when running a one-person show. If you fall into this category, your 2017 business New Year’s resolution may be to better manage your time and dramatically increase profits.
When you have a dedicated administrative support staff, as the CEO, you can devote your time exclusively to tasks that make you money. A robust virtual live receptionist service can handle a variety of duties that’ll keep you focused on strategic and important responsibilities without losing momentum in your customer service and administrative departments.
To give you an idea of the non-revenue generating tasks that you can outsource to qualified agents, here are the top 10 tasks that our customers trust us with:
- 1.) Answering Business Calls and Taking Messages
- 2.) Transferring VIP and Emergency Calls 24-Hours a Day
- 3.) Providing Answers to Your Callers’ FAQs
- 4.) Filling Out Intake Sheets, Screening Callers and Prequalifying Leads
- 5.) Setting Appointments on Your Calendar in Real-Time
- 6.) Confirming, Canceling and Rescheduling Appointments
- 7.) Processing Purchases and Payments
- 8.) Offering After-Hour, Weekend and Holiday Phone Coverage
- 9.) Dispatching Technicians and Processing Service Orders
- 10.) Providing Reliable Wakeup Call Services
To better manage your time, you must first calculate what your time is worth. In our article, How to Manage Your Time at Work by Outsourcing and Delegating, we walk you through different equations to arrive at your hourly worth. Putting a dollar amount on your worth will allow you to properly manage and handle your time by constantly asking, “Is this worth my time?”
Business New Year’s Resolution: Achieve a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Was 2016 such a profitable year that you found yourself working longer hours and always being on-call? That’s great for your business’s bottom line, but you don’t want to make a habit of placing your personal life on the back burner. And so, you may be the entrepreneur that resolves to not let your work schedule monopolize your personal time this year.
Having a healthy work-life balance is a popular challenge amongst the self-employed. In fact, “57% of small business owners say they work six or more days each week.” Having a virtual receptionist team will allow you to have the best of both worlds; you can be available 24-hours a day but not have the responsibility of being on-call personally.
Train us to answer your customer FAQs and how you’d like your after-hour calls handled and we’ll be on-call 24/7. Following your exact specifications, we’ll assist your callers by providing helpful and friendly information about your company’s products, services, rates, practices, etc.
Try Our Virtual Live Receptionist Service Out for a Month!
Our virtual live receptionist service offers month-to-month contracts so you’ve got nothing to lose (and everything to gain) by test driving our services. Give us a call today at 1-800-785-6161 to discuss our custom services and how we can help you achieve your business’s 2017 New Year’s resolution.
Need more New Year’s resolution inspiration for 2017? Read the Next Article:
The Ultimate 2017 New Year’s Resolution for Small Business Owners
Publish Date: January 4, 2017
Orlando, Florida: A Courteous Communications is pleased to announce that it has been selected as the preferred answering service provider for Adventist Health Systems for the Florida Region and surrounding areas. This partnership will include its medical facilities in Central Florida, East Florida, West Florida, Mid American Region (KS and WI), Southeast region (GA, KY, NC, and TN), Southwest Region (TX) and the Mid-West Region (IL). A Courteous’ local connections with Florida Hospital nominated them for this bid and they were announced as the winner in July. Their HIPAA compliant medical answering services officially went into effect for Adventist in early September.
About Adventist Health System
Located in Altamonte Springs Florida, Adventist Health Systems is a non-profit healthcare organization that operates medical facilities across the United States. It is one of the largest faith-based integrated health systems in the country and is responsible for 45 hospital campuses and more than 8,300 licensed beds in over 10 states. Although each of their medical facilities operate independently in delivering the best care and services to meet the needs of their individual communities, they all remain united in their mission of “Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ”. Adventist Health is a national leader in safety, quality and patient satisfaction and helps service over 4.7 million patients each year.
About A Courteous Communications
Doris Primicerio, current president and founder, started A Courteous Communications in 1986 in a quaint office located in the heart of Central Florida. When she opened her doors she had just one client, a medical office that still trusts her team with their answering service needs 30 years later. Throughout the years, Doris and her partner and Vice President, Jean Pearson, have been able to build their company into one of the largest answering service providers in the country and was one of the first in the industry to take it international. Their dedicated team of virtual receptionists continuously win telecommunication awards based on their skill, hard work and elite customer service skills.
Providing Outstanding Customer Service To Businesses Big and Small
Not only do they provide answering services to large medical facilities, they also provide services to small businesses in various industries throughout the nation. Their clients range from large corporations like Frito-Lay to small HVAC businesses and local restaurants. By employing a skilled and versatile virtual receptionist team, A Courteous Communications is able to give all of their clients the same dedication and attention they deserve.
Publish Date: December 21, 2016
Are you looking for creative ways to bring holiday cheer to your office? If so, look no further because in this special article, we’re bringing you some very interesting and unique ways to bring jolly and joyful attitudes into your work environment.
Read on to see our compilation of the 5 most creative ways to boost employee morale during the holidays.
Holiday ideas for boosting employee morale:
1.) Spread Christmas Cheer for All to Hear
We all love the sentimental memories and feelings that our favorite holiday songs conjure up each year. One of the easiest ways to spread holiday cheer in your office is to play your staff’s favorite seasonal songs.
How Does Holiday Music Affect Employees at Work? Studies show that music enhances your staff’s productivity and spreads a general good feeling. That being said, some of your employees may hate hearing the chipmunk’s rendition of “Jingle Bells” on an annoying loop. If you follow these general rules before selecting your office holiday playlist, you should be in the clear.
- • Don’t Overload Your Staff
Start playing holiday music just a few weeks before Christmas; start too early and your staff will be overwhelmed and annoyed. Avoid replaying the same playlist, artist or album and create an eclectic holiday soundtrack for your team to enjoy.
- • Consider Going Lyric-Free
If you want to maintain a more neutral, focused and conservative holiday environment, stick to lyric-free seasonal songs. This will have your employees humming to their favorite winter songs while they focus on their work.
- • Stick to the Classics
The soothing and familiar holiday classics will spread cheer throughout your office in a subtle manner. Get your office feeling like home with the cool stylings of Bing Crosby or the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas.
- • Be Culturally Sensitive
Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! Blessed Advent! Here in America, we are fortunate to have a melting pot of different religions, beliefs and preferences around this time of year. When picking out music, be sure not to alienate or exclude any team members.
Ask your employees if they’d each like to make a holiday playlist for the office. This way, everyone can have a turn at spreading holiday cheer for all to hear with their favorite seasonal tunes.
2.) Get Creative with Cubicle #Deskorations
In a global study of 3,000 employees, Forbes Magazine reported that happy employees are:
- • 180% More Energized Than Less Content Colleagues
- • 155% Happier with Their Jobs
- • 108% More Engaged at Work
- • 50% More Motivated
- • 50% More Productive
One sure way to get your staff to break a smile is to get creative with your holiday decorations at the office. Dress up the refrigerator in your office kitchen as a snowman, wrap your office door like a Christmas present or hang stockings for your employees.
If your office workspace is casual and your entire team wants to help build elaborate Christmas decorations, have at it. To give you some great ideas for how you can #deskorate your cubicle so that it really stands out this year, click here and view some elaborate office holiday decorations.
3.) Mixing Aromatherapy and Holiday Smells
Your sense of smell is a powerful sense that is often overlooked. Bring in mild incense, aroma sprays or, if you allow fire in your office, scented candles to add a dash of holiday feeling in the air.
“The smell of cinnamon reminds me of the holidays.”
Treat your employees to a cinnamon scent and do more than bring about the holiday season. According to How Stuff Works, “Researchers have found that [cinnamon] reduces drowsiness, irritability, and the pain and number of headaches. In one study, the aroma of cinnamon in the room helped participants to concentrate and perform better. The essential oil and its fragrance help relax tight muscles and ease painful joints.”
“I always think of my childhood Christmas when I smell peppermint.”
Live Strong Magazine shares that, “Peppermint oil is a natural stimulant that can increase your ability to concentrate during times of mental fatigue or stress.” When your staff feels drained around the holidays, a whiff of peppermint should perk them right up.
“There’s nothing like the smell of pine trees during the winter.”
The Global Healing Center recommends spraying a hint of pine as it, “Stimulates the body and mind, and has an energizing effect on the overall person. As an aromatherapy agent, it has been used to support adrenal fatigue and mild depression.”
Don’t overlook your employees’ sense of smell this year. This aromatic option is one of the easiest ways to boost employee morale during the holidays while also boosting their productivity.
4.) Gift a Cup of Holiday Cheer
A 2015 Gallop Survey on coffee consumption discovered that, “Just under two-thirds of U.S. adults drink at least one cup a day.” According to the same Gallop study, less than 10% of addicted coffee lovers have a desire to quit drinking their daily cups of Joe. Coffee is here to stay and tea finishes a close second to the beverages your employees crave.
#LifeHack: “46% of workers claim they are overall less productive without their java, 20% of coffee drinkers claim that it allows them to better socialize with their co-workers and 10% say that it helped them focus before giving a presentation.”
Spread holiday cheer by treating your staff to gourmet or special seasonal blends. Think about how happy your team would be with gingerbread, maple syrup or cinnamon flavored coffee. For your tea lovers, consider purchasing a chocolate peppermint, spiced apple cider or pumpkin spiced tea. If you want to put a decadent topper on that morning cup of Christmas, supply your office kitchen with holiday creamers like frosted sugar cookie or spiced eggnog.
5.) Holiday Office Contests: And the winner is…
Get your staff in the holiday mood by hosting seasonal office contests. This time of year brings out the creative and talented bakers, shakers and makers. A little healthy competition that gives the entire office tasty yummies or hearty chuckles will keep your team’s morale up.
• Spiked Egg Nog Holiday Contest
Host an office holiday happy hour and invite your employees to enter their favorite adult holiday drink. Don’t limit your team to eggnog; invite the best ciders, home brewed beers and other holiday beverages to make an appearance as well.
• Best Homemade Dessert Potluck
Cookies, pies, gingerbread, oh my! Give in to your team’s sweet tooth by allowing each staff member to bring in their homemade dessert. Conduct an anonymous or very public vote to crown the winner with a special gift certificate.
• Best Elf on a Shelf Photo
Recent pop culture has gifted us the viral elf on a shelf photos that make us laugh out loud. Get a contest going amongst your employees and have them submit a creative and hilarious elf on a shelf photo. Warning: Some elves on their shelves can be a bit mischievous. Be sure to lay out some guidelines and rules for your contestants to follow.
Happy Holidays From Our Team to Yours!
All of our virtual receptionists here at A Courteous Communications wish you a happy and safe holiday season. We hope that these creative ways to boost employee morale during the holidays will help your team to be as jolly and joyful as our team this year.
Publish Date: December 19, 2016
Outsourcing your calls to an off-site location can be a bit of a mystery. Who’s going to answer my calls? How are they going to answer my customer’s inquiries? What tasks can a virtual live receptionist service handle on my behalf?
Here’s a quick roundup of 10 facts that’ll help you hire the best answering service for your business’s particular needs.
Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Live Receptionist Service:
1.) You’ll Never Miss a Phone Call.
One of the most beneficial facts about outsourcing your phones is that you’ll never miss another business call again. Virtual receptionists are dedicated to answering your lines 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
What does this mean for your business? It’s simple, you’ll never again worry about:
- • Missing a call from a potential customer;
- • Sending a VIP caller to a robotic voicemail message;
- • Losing a message that required a callback.
2.) Your Agent is an Extension of Your Team.
Any business detail that you would share with an on-site receptionist, you can share with your virtual receptionist. The more information you provide, the better he or she can act as an extension of your in-house team.
#HiringTip: Hire an answering service that gives you the freedom to customize your account fully.
3.) Giving VIP Calls the Attention They Deserve.
It’s a fact, if you’re expecting an important phone call, your cellphone is practically glued to your hand. As a business owner, you can’t afford to send VIP calls to a voicemail. At the same time, you shouldn’t be interrupting your daily schedule to be constantly available.
A virtual receptionist allows you to be productive at work by eliminating the distraction of a ringing phone. And when you go home for the day, outsourcing your calls to a 24-hour answering service will let you sleep through the night in peace. When your phone does ring, you know it’s an important call.
4.) Providing Award Winning Customer Service.
Here at A Courteous Communications, it’s a fact that we’ve won both national and international awards for providing elite telephone customer service. Each year we welcome experts in the telecommunication’s industry to closely monitor, examine and grade our conversations. These competitions allow us to constantly be aware of the level of customer service we bring to our clients’ businesses.
#HiringTip: Hire an answering service that not only enters customer service contests, but also takes home the trophy.
5.) Processing Telephone Orders and Payments.
On average, 68.63% of users abandon an online shopping cart before they’ve completed their transaction. Why are your online customers not finalizing their purchase? Some of the most popular reasons for abandoned shopping carts are:
- • Your website is not user-friendly.
- • Hidden or misleading fees.
- • Not supplying enough product/service information.
Provide a customer service phone number that your online users can use in case they need further assistance. A virtual live receptionist service can answer your customers’ questions; process their orders and take secure payments over the telephone.
6.) Managing Your Schedule in Real-Time.
Answering your telephone calls and forwarding your messages is just the tip of the iceberg. A modern and digital answering service can also act as your scheduling assistant. A virtual scheduler can be trained to answer your calls; determine which callers require a meeting; and finally, schedule all appointments in real-time.
Train an account expert to prequalify your callers to ensure that only specific people can secure an appointment on your schedule. Specify the exact timeslots you would like appointments to be scheduled. Your new virtual receptionist team will be trained to follow your exact instructions. When a new appointment is scheduled or canceled, you’ll receive a notification in real-time via email, text or voice about the change in your agenda.
7.) Eliminating Your Hold Times.
Making your customers wait on hold for long periods of time is inexcusable. Keeping your customers on hold when they want to speak with a live agent shows that you don’t value or respect their time. Relieve the pressure by providing your in-house employees with a telephone support team to back them up when they’re busy with other callers.
If you’re going to have an in-house customer service team, make sure that you have enough employees to handle high-call volumes. To ensure that your callers are never placed on hold for long durations, you can choose to outsource just your overflow calls.
Your staff and customers will thank you for providing adequate telephone support.
8.) Speaking Multiple Languages.
If you’re extremely lucky, you may find an in-house receptionist that speaks multiple languages to handle your business calls. However, chances are, your receptionist applicants will be fluent in only English.
Don’t let language barriers cut your market reach and potential. Provide all your callers with the option to discuss your products and services in their native language. You’ll receive a translation of the caller’s message, inquiry or question via text or email.
Our multilingual receptionists can also act as a translator during telephone conference calls between you and another party. Shoot us a message now to see if our virtual receptionists can help you with a specific language.
9.) Helping You Outshine Your Competitors.
Since we live in the Digital Age where consumers are accustomed to getting what they want when they want it, it’s imperative that you keep communication open 24/7/365. You don’t want your potential customers calling your competitors when they can’t reach you.
Hiring a professional answering service allows you to develop a solid competitive edge. If your competitors are sending their callers to an antiquated voicemail after 5 pm and on weekends, you have a chance to swoop up their business.
By giving all callers a human, live person to speak with 24-hours a day, you’re committing to providing them with elite customer service.
10.) An Affordable Option for All Business Owners.
Our service rates can be as low as $0.45 per call. It doesn’t matter what your service or product is, you can make room in your budget to enhance your customers’ overall experience. What you can’t afford is to miss important calls from new and existing customers.
Providing outstanding customer service should be a priority in your business plan. Give your customers live assistance on their timetable and earn their long-term business by consistently being available.
Give Our Virtual Receptionist Service A Call!
Our virtual live receptionist service is here and ready to provide you with round-the-clock telephone support. Give us a call today at 1-800-785-6161 to speak with an account specialist about how we can help grow your business with our custom services.
Publish Date: December 8, 2016
“Should I hire a Wake-Up Call Service?” It’s a legitimate question found on many professional business forums. At first glance, hiring a live person to wake you up might seem more like a luxury than a necessity. If you dive a little deeper and review all the customizations available, you’ll start to see why more and more professionals are enjoying the human wake-up experience.
Here are 10 reasons that showcase why paying someone a couple of quarters to give you a wake-up call can drastically change how you approach your career.
What can a Wake-Up Call Service do for me?
1. Wake-Up Call from a Real Person
Snoozing a real person is tougher than snoozing your alarm app. You can snooze your digital alarm by smacking any button while you’re still half-asleep. With a live wake-up call, you’re forced to answer the phone and hold a brief conversation.
Break your snooze button addiction by having a human motivator that holds you accountable each workday. You can have your virtual assistant give you a daily wake-up call based on your schedule. If you’re really not a morning person, you can request a second wake-up call to guarantee that you’re awake.
2. Custom Wake-Up Schedule Options
It’s 2016, you have an alarmingly wide variety of alarm clock methods to choose from. Depending on your preference, you can choose to wake-up to your favorite song, a funny joke or a standard ringtone. You’ll see a lot of benefits from the customizable call option if you’re serious about making punctuality a priority in your life.
With a virtual assistant, you can fully customize your wake-up experience. Be creative and build a custom answer phrase you’d like a live person to wake you up with. Your virtual assistant can:
- • Ask you to solve a simple mathematical problem to ensure you’re awake.
- • Greet you and remind you of your daily personal goals or recite your favorite mantra.
- • Wake you up and deliver the date, time and weather status in your area.
3. Wake-Up Call When You’re Out of Town
A lot of professionals that are required to travel know the anxiety that comes with dealing with everchanging wake-up routines. Whatever appointment brought you out of the office is important and you have to show up on time.
Instead of relying on a hotel desk operator, hire a virtual service that will wake you up when you’re away on business. The longer you use a service, the more relationship building opportunities you create. After a few wake-up calls, you just might get used to Sara calling you and greeting you with any messages you received while you’ve been away.
4. Trustworthy Wake-Up Call for Important Event
Whether you need someone to wake you up to attend the important seminar you’re speaking at or to make sure you don’t miss your red-eye flight, we’ve got you covered. Opt to have a sporadic wake-up call schedule that matches any important events on your calendar.
Make a note that the wake-up call is urgent and sensitive, and we’ll call you every minute until we personally speak with you. With this type of support, you’ll never sleep in and miss out on a game-changing event.
5. Multiple Time Zones and Multiple Languages
A 24-hour Wake-Up Call Service can support any time zone you’re in or any time zone you’ll be visiting. With each new alarm you create, your service will also want to know your intended location. This can be accomplished with a simple phone call:
“Hi, this is Mark Thomas with ABC Sales. I’m going to need my standard wake-up call tomorrow morning for 6:00 am. I’m in Seattle.”
If you’re native language isn’t English, no problem. A reputable wake-up service will have multilingual assistants that can wake you up in your preferred language.
6. Reliable Wake-Up Call for Serious Professionals
There are some professions that require you to be alert and on time every day. Snoozing an alarm clock while half-sleeping or not hearing the buzzing noise could end up costing you a fortune.
• Olympians and Athletes
We all laughed at the Seinfeld episode when Jean-Paul described why he missed the 1992 Olympic Games because he overslept. It wasn’t the snooze button or mistaking am for pm; his ringer volume was too low. Although this was just a TV show plot, it happens.
A few real Olympians slept through their alarm clocks and nearly missed their events. British weightlifter, Jack Oliver, “had intended to be up at 6am ahead of his competition at London 2012, but an hour later was still in bed.” The Australian teenager shooter, Alethea Sedgman, had the same issue before her event, “I slept straight through my alarm. I've never done that before, I'm an idiot.”
• Pilots and Flight Attendants
There’s a lot of pilot humor out there, here at the answering service, we get a laugh out of this one. “Yes Operator, I’d like a wake-up call at 0400, and when you do… I’d also like you to tell me where I am, what time it is, what day it is, what airline I work for and my name.”
While it shows the occupational hazards of a traveling professional, it also shows how crazy you can feel when constantly going from Point A to Point B.
The great thing about having a virtual wake-up assistant is being able to sleep soundly knowing that you have someone that is going to keeping calling until you answer.
7. Voice Reminders for Appointments
Many of our clients choose to expand on our wake-up call services by adding reminder calls as well. Your virtual assistant can call you with a reminder to finalize your sales report or advise of the deadline given by your attorney.
This optional service can replace your current mobile calendar reminder alerts. Bringing a human element to your very important appointments and tasks will give you a higher level of accountability.
8. Get Special Wake-Up Messages on Special Days
Since you can customize your wake-up call message, you can have a virtual assistant call you to deliver a unique message on special days. The more you think outside of the box with creative ideas, the more a professional wake-up service can help you.
- • Get a final reminder call the morning of February 13th to check the status of your spouse’s Valentine’s Day gift.
- • During your wake-up call, have the operator confirm that you’ll be at the airport by 3:00 pm to pick up your friend who’s coming into town.
- • Schedule a wake-up call an hour earlier than your standard wake-up time on your spouse’s birthday; giving you extra time to make breakfast.
9. Gift Wake-Up Call Services
If you’re looking for that perfect gift to get your loyal customers or promising employees, gift them a VIP wake-up experience. “Our basic plan can cost as little as $0.45 per call and is a perfect way to encourage someone to continue on a professional, successful path.”
Your gift recipient will be able to fully customize their wake-up call greeting, script, etc. We also offer monthly packages so you don’t have to worry about signing up someone for a long-term commitment.
10. Real-Time Changes to Account
Your wake-up service will be available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. That’s right, we’re open and available to you on national holidays as well. You have constant access to us so you can make instant changes to your account.
Creating a new wake-up call or modifying an existing one requires one simple step. You can call, email or text us when you’d like to create a new wake-up alarm. We’ll ask you just a few questions.
- • The start date for your alarm.
- • If it’s a one-time alarm of if you’d like it repeated.
- • The time you want to be woken up and what time zone you’ll be in.
- • A choice between a standard or custom wake-up greeting.
- • If you’d like to mark the call as sensitive or urgent for constant callbacks.
With a wake-up service, you’re dealing with real people so there’s no downloading of software or frustration with malfunctioning self-service apps. Depending on your requests, placing a basic wake-up call order can take as little as 30 seconds.
Give Our Wake-Up Call Service a Call!
We hope you now realize how beneficial a dependable Wake-Up Call Service can be for both your professional career and personal life. If you have additional questions, please shoot us a message here to get a swift response to your inquiry.
Or, you can give us a call today at 1-800-785-6161 to speak with an account specialist to start setting up your wakeup call for tomorrow.
Publish Date: November 16, 2016
In a perfect world, your eCommerce website would be sufficient to attract, engage and assist all of your customers. However, in the real world, some of your customers will require additional assistance in their times of need.
Outsourcing your incoming calls to a technical support answering service will save your eCommerce business time, money and unneeded stress. A virtual helpdesk can provide:
- • 24/7 Customer Service
- • Technical Support from a Live Agent
- • Support Ticket Logging and Tracking
- • Secure Phone Order Processing
- • Real-Time Messaging to On-Call Engineers and C-Level Executives
- • Compassionate and Empathetic Complaint Handlers
- • Multilingual Customer Service Representatives
Let’s walk through some of the general services a technical virtual representative can offer you.
24/7 Telephone Customer Service and Support
Most business answering services will offer you phone coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Having continued telephone coverage for your business is the greatest benefit you gain from outsourcing your calls. But if you’re looking for a robust and dedicated support team, your priority should be finding a company that allows you to fully customize your account.
A reputable answering service will take you through an extensive process to build your technical support team.
Step 1: The Initial Consultation
During this stage, your web answering service will ask you a series of questions to gauge what services would be most beneficial for you. For instance:
- • Who currently answers your business telephone calls?
- • Do you currently send customers to voicemail after normal business hours?
- • On average, how long must a customer wait for a callback?
- • What telecommunication issues is your business struggling with?
- • Around how many calls does your business receive each month?
- • Do you need a basic messaging service or a more customized technical support service?
- • Would you like to transfer your business calls directly or would you like to be designated a 1-800 phone number?
- • Do you have an on-call or in-house programming, engineering or specialist team?
Step 2: Customizing Your Account
After you’ve learned more about the technical support answering service and feel confident in their abilities, you then move forward with customizing your account.
This will be the point when you start to train an in-house programmer and account specialist on how you want your calls handled. The more detail you provide, the better your new technical support team can assist your callers. A technical representative will be able to:
- • Answer your callers’ technical frequently asked questions;
- • Troubleshoot any website navigation issues your customers have;
- • Dispatch emergency service orders to an on-call team member;
- • Provide step-by-step instructions on how to use your product, service, app, etc.;
- • Track delivery orders and update information in your client portal; and
- • Handle complaint department and document positive/negative feedback.
Step 3: Training the Tech Support Team
“Do you train the people who will be answering my lines about my business or do you just give them a script to follow?”
This question is extremely important to ask all business answering services you interview.
You need to outsource your calls to an answering service that provides specific training on your account. Scripts will be essential when it comes to highly customized tech support services, but you need to confirm that all representatives will be trained on your business and policies.
Step 4: Receiving Live Information
Each time your new technical support team speaks with a caller, you’ll receive a message detailing the call transaction. The form of these messages will vary depending on the nature of the call.
- • If a technical question was answered, you’ll receive an email/text detailing the question and solution provided with the callers’ contact information.
- • If a message was taken, you’ll receive a detailed email/text of the inquiry with the callers’ contact information.
- • If an emergency or VIP is involved, your on-call employee will receive a direct phone call from your representative to discuss the situation.
- • If an order was processed, you’ll receive a notification via your existing web-based system.
- • If an appointment was scheduled or canceled, you’ll receive an email/text notification along with a real-time update to your calendar.
- • If a complaint was taken, you’ll receive an incident report via email/text along with the caller’s contact information.
Troubleshooting Issues and Providing Solutions
Not all of your website visitors and existing customers are going to be technologically savvy. When you have a 24-hour technical support answering service, you’re able to give your callers the assistance they need to purchase and enjoy your product.
A professional and qualified team will be able to assist your callers with their immediate needs; increasing customer satisfaction. Each industry will be handled differently, but these main techniques will be utilized to troubleshoot all inquiries:
- • Greet all callers with a friendly disposition to start the conversation on a positive note.
- • Actively listen to a caller’s issue or question to identify the specific problem.
- • Analyze the problem to search available resources for a systematic solution.
- • Use call control to assist the caller through the suggested resolution.
- • If the caller had a negative experience, offer a sincere apology on behalf of the company.
If you have a team of professional engineers, technicians or service professionals, an answering service will free up their time tremendously while decreasing your customer hold time.
Support Ticket Logging and Tracking
When your callers have a technical question that your support team can’t answer, we can create a support ticket that your in-house team of experts can tackle at their convenience. You give the answering service access to your web-based system and watch how all inquiries are automatically logged and organized for you. While self-solutions are in demand, you don’t want to offer just automated solutions. Sometimes, your customers want a real person to handle their issue.
The process varies on your system and preferences, but all calls that can’t be resolved on the spot will be properly logged. A support ticket will be created; with a copy sent to your technical expert and a copy sent to the customer. You can even elect to have your tech support team follow up with your on-call engineers, programmers and experts to discuss the completed tickets.
Don’t waste your valuable time completing a standard support ticket. Allow a virtual assistant to help your customer at a fraction of the cost it would take an in-house tech to complete.
Give Our Technical Support Answering Service a Try!
Here at A Courteous Communications, we have high standards when it comes to providing technical support. Our technical support answering service offers an elite group of helpdesk operators that bring the following to your business:
- • 24-Hour Professional Phone Coverage
- • Award Winning Customer Service
- • Customized Support and Direct Training on All Accounts
- • An In-House Tech and Programming Team
- • Bilingual and Multilingual Services Included in All Accounts
Call us today at 1-800-785-6161 to speak with an account specialist or shoot us an email to discuss your business’s specific needs.
Publish Date: November 8, 2016
In the real estate industry, answering incoming telephone calls is critical to obtaining long-term success. Homebuyers and homeowners are searching for a realtor and if you let a call go to voicemail, you risk losing tens of thousands of dollars.
A Real Estate Answering Service can do a lot more than answer your phone lines 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We can also take on a range of other customer service tasks so you can focus on serving your customers face-to-face. All of our clients enjoy custom accounts built around their needs, but here are a few realtor specific services that we bring to your business.
What can a Real Estate Answering Service do for my business?
Answering Real Estate Inquiries 24/7
Successful realtors know the importance of being available when their clients need them the most. You can’t expect to grow your business by constantly turning your phone off and sending inquiries straight to your voicemail. Towards that end, you also can’t afford to constantly interrupt clients during a meeting, open house or private viewing to answer a ringing cellphone.
If you’re an ambitious realtor that wants to gain a reputation for outstanding customer service, the only solution available is to hire someone to answer your business lines. Outsourcing your real estate customer calls to 24-hour virtual receptionists will allow to be available to your customers all day, every day.
A professional answering service acts as both your receptionist and assistant to help your callers with their inquiries. We can help your homebuyers and homeowners that call at 6:00 am on a Monday or 6:00 pm on a Sunday. Our team is on call 24-hours a day and help by:
- • Providing callers with your realtor identification number, credentials and general business information.
- • Emailing a copy of your MLS Agent Production Report upon request.
- • Informing calling leads with your specialty (neighborhood, property types, etc.) lists.
- • Answering FAQ’s regarding a specific property listed on your website.
- • Advising of general commission rates, administrative fees and other expenses.
Outsourcing your calls also allows you to keep a detailed record of your leads and inquiries. After each call ends, we will send you a detailed message with the caller’s contact information via email or text for your records and advisement.
Gathering Preliminary Information from Lead
A realtor’s virtual receptionist can act as your gatekeeper. We’ll guide your callers through a series of prequalifying questions before scheduling a consultation. This allows you to be confident that you’ll be speaking with serious leads after reviewing their responses.
You can customize questions to determine the motivation and needs of your cold calling leads. Realtor Magazine shares 24 excellent prequalifying questions that can inspire your script.
- • How long have you been looking?
- • Are you working with another realtor or broker?
- • How soon do you need to move?
- • What is your price range?
- • Has a lender prequalified you for a loan? If so, for how much?
- • Is there a specific location you’re looking at?
- • What are you looking for in a realtor?
Based on their answers, we will 1) transfer the call directly to your cellphone; 2) schedule a consultation; or 3) email you a detailed intake form for a callback at your convenience.
Handling, Delivering and Dispatching Emergency Calls
With a time-sensitive industry like the real estate market, it’s important that you keep communication with your firm open. When you hire a Real Estate Answering Service to answer your calls, you’re going to be able to closely monitor your customers’ accounts 24/7/365.
Outsourcing your 24-hour help line to a team of virtual receptionists gives callers direct access to you in the case of an emergency. You tell us what types of calls (or specific client names) you need transferred to you immediately and we’ll follow your instructions. Treat a virtual receptionist team like you would an on-site receptionist, with open communication. When you constantly keep us informed, we’re able to better serve you and your callers.
Small changes to your account can take as little as a few minutes. This quick turnaround time allows you to give us a call in the morning with some of these scenarios:
- • “I’m expecting a call from Tom Smith, an appraiser working on the Jennifer Jacobson listing. Please interrupt any of my scheduled meetings and transfer his call straight to my cell.”
- • “I’ll be working a big open house tonight. Please hold all calls and email me my messages as usual. Text me in the event of an emergency and I’ll call you right back.”
- • “I’m going out of the country this weekend and won’t available via telephone until Wednesday. Let all of my callers know that they can email me and I will be checking my inbox twice a day.”
No matter what stage of the buying process your client is in, it’s critical that they’re able to reach you. We make that possible.
Scheduling Support for Appointments and Events
It’s true, you can outsource your scheduling needs to a business answering service. Give us access to your appointment book and we can help you with our administrative support scheduling services. After asking calling leads your prequalifying questions, we can then take the call a step further and schedule a consultation.
You’ll receive immediate notifications of all changes made to your calendar in real-time. A virtual scheduling assistant can take on the tasks of setting, confirming, canceling and rescheduling some of these common events:
- • Initial Consultations
- • Telephone Conferences
- • Private Home Viewings
- • Open House Events
- • Neighborhood Tours
- • Property Walk-Throughs
- • General Meetings
Our Real Estate Answering Service is here to help your business grow!
As an experienced Real Estate Answering Service with over 30 years of experience, we can give you the support you need to grow your real estate agency.
Learn more about our affordable plans by reviewing our General Rates and Prices. To get a custom quote, give us a call today at 1-800-785-6161 to discuss your specific need with an account expert.
Publish Date: November 1, 2016
Working in a business answering service is a highly underrated career; we’re more than just a voice on the other end of a telephone. Our team is responsible for acting as a gatekeeper and assistant for thousands of businesses. We must be on our game 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year to deliver superior services to our clients. It’s an extremely stressful and challenging career that not everyone can handle.
Although being a virtual receptionist is a highly demanding profession, it also comes with many rewards. Here are 10 reasons why we love answering the business lines for our clients.
Being A Virtual Receptionist Rocks and Here’s Why:
1. Flextime Shifts in a 24-Hour Period
One of the many perks of working for a business that never closes is the flexible shifts available. Flextime operator shifts allow us to work around our lifestyle and personal life responsibilities. While some benefit from working the 9 to 5 weekday, others can choose from weekend and odd-hour shifts.
The late night, graveyard shifts also pay more; which is a definite incentive for our team that would rather work through the night.
2. A Casual Work Environment
We get the best of both worlds in that we get to conduct ourselves in a very professional manner, while still enjoying a very casual work environment. Many in-house receptionists are forced to adhere to strict dress codes, but we get to wear jeans and comfortable clothing options.
Being heard and not seen also means that we get to participate in wacky dress days like pajama day, weird sock day and other casual holidays that allow us to dress in a fun theme.
3. Work is Always Changing
Answering for many businesses gives us the freedom to constantly experience a change in our work life. In an 8-hour workday we experience a wide array of tasks and duties. One minute we can be scheduling a dentist appointment for a patient and in the next minute, we could be taking down an RSVP and meal preference for a wedding event.
We enjoy this fast-paced environment as it allows us to never grow complacent in our day-to-day responsibilities.
4. A Job Role That Has Structure
There are some occupations that constantly change and leave an employee with a feeling of confusion as to what is required of them. Our virtual receptionists all share a very structured job role that allows each team member to know what is expected of them. The additional benefit of working in a structured job is that when it’s time to clock out, you’re not going to be taking work home with you.
Everyone from the Operating Room Manager to the Virtual Scheduler to the Telephone Dispatcher all know their roles within the organization. Having such a structured work environment reduces our team’s overall stress levels and allows us to work together more efficiently.
5. We Never Have a Chance to Grow Bored
Some workers grow bored of their jobs and spend a lot of time staring out the window waiting for their workday to end. Not us here at A Courteous Communications. We’re constantly busy attending to high volume phone calls all day, every day. Sure, it’s hard work but one of the benefits of constantly being productive is completely losing track of time.
We never scour the office looking for work; it comes straight to our desk. Before we know it, our workday is over and it’s quittin’ time. As a virtual receptionist, we hardly ever experience downtime that leads to boring workdays that feel like they’ll never end.
6. We’re Trained in Multiple Industries
Our job is so fascinating because we get to learn about a variety of different industries, services and products. When you’re working as an on-site receptionist for a law firm, you get to learn the ins and outs of the legal system. Receptionists and dispatchers for service professionals get to learn more about the FAQ’s of homeowners regarding the service they provide.
As virtual receptionists, we have the unique opportunity of learning a little bit about every industry we answer for.
7. Helping People on a Daily Basis
95% of answering business phone lines is being able to help a caller with their specific question or need. Each day we’re presented with various ways we can help total strangers and we get to be a part of so many positive interactions. Our communication and problem solving skills get a daily workout as we try to assist each caller with their custom situation. In short, it feels good to help others find solutions to their problems.
The gratitude we receive from complete strangers is a humbling and unique experience that keeps us coming back for more each day.
8. Being a Part of Important Work
We must stress that being in the telecommunications’ industry is no easy task. Some of the calls received are a matter of life and death. When those calls come in, we rely on our intense training to be able to steer the caller in the right direction.
Whether we’re answering the after-hour calls for hospitals, bully hotlines or mental health professionals, our ability to effectively communicate is crucial. Being able to assist in important and time-sensitive work can be extremely fulfilling.
9. Turning Frowns Upside Down
A large responsibility that all customer service representatives share is helping an angry customer better manage and communicate their complaints. When a customer is angry, they can forget that they’re talking to a human being and when that happens, we’re on the receiving end of a verbal beating. It’s not pretty.
However, when we utilize our compassion and sympathy training, we can change someone’s mood from mad to happy. It’s a challenge working with so many different personalities and helping each caller feel understood. But when you’re able to turn that angry customer into a satisfied customer, you feel a great sense of accomplishment.
10. Working Hard and Playing Hard as a Team
As you may have noticed, our team here at A Courteous Communications works extremely hard each day. To keep our energy and our morale up, we play hard as well.
We often go out into the community, as a team, to volunteer and help those in need. We celebrate crazy holidays in the office like National Hot Fudge Sundae Day and Wear a Tiara Day. Each year we have a Halloween costume contest and dance our hearts out during a festive end of year Christmas party. Company potluck lunches, BBQ’s and family days sprinkle our annual event calendar.
Want to Join Our Virtual Receptionist Team?
Think you have what it takes to join our awarding winning answering service as a virtual receptionist? Click here to shoot us a message and see what roles we’re currently hiring for.
We also suggest learning more about our intense hiring process by reading our article, How Our Phone Answering Service Hires Talented Virtual Receptionists.
Publish Date: October 27, 2016
“What is a telephone messaging service and how can it help my business?” If you’re typing this popular question into Google, this article spotlighting our answering and messaging services will give you the information you seek.
Read on to learn, in detail, how a virtual receptionist team can answer your calls 24 hours a day and forward your phone messages in real-time.
Benefits of having a telephone messaging service for your business
Custom Training on Your Account
When you hire our team of virtual receptionists to answer your lines the first thing you’ll do is teach us how to answer your phones. We provide you the ability to fully customize your phone procedures so we can assist your callers.
To be sure we answer your lines according to your exact specifications, you’ll be able to customize the following information:
• Custom Answering Greeting
We can answer your business lines with a general, “Good morning / afternoon / evening,” answer phrase. Or, we can answer all calls with your business name, slogan or a special announcement.
• Business Information
Give us your hours of operation, when your staff normally takes lunch, holidays and days that your office will be closed, etc. Let us know if you have multiple locations so we can be as helpful and knowledge as possible.
• Employee List
Give us a full employee list and we can direct your calling customers to the correct contact person. Provide us with the contact information for your on-call or in case of an emergency employee for afterhours assistance.
• FAQ Information
Make a list of your callers most frequently asked questions and give us the answers. Our virtual receptionists can quote your standard fees, areas of expertise, product/service information and more.
• Handling Emergency Calls
We understand that you and your callers may have entirely different definitions of what an emergency is. You tell us what constitutes an emergency and we will follow the emergency procedures you prefer.
• Dispatching Procedures
If you need calls dispatched to service professionals or to on-call employees, we’ve got you covered. Just teach us your dispatching preferences and procedures and we will follow them exactly. We can even verify that a service call has been answered or completed by getting confirmation from your service technician.
Forward Your Lines at Your Convenience
The great thing about our answering service is that we answer your calls whenever you need us to. All you have to do is push a few buttons on the telephone and voila, all of your business calls will be forwarded to your new virtual receptionist team.
If you have an onsite receptionist, you can elect to forward your calls only when he or she is away from their desk. So when they leave for the day at 5:00 pm, just have them forward the calls to your new telephone messaging service and we’ll make sure you never miss another call. When your onsite receptionist come in at 9:00 am, they can press a few buttons to un-forward your calls.
For business owners that answer their own phone lines, we can act as your 24-hour receptionist and assistant by screening your incoming calls for you. This means you will never have to be surprised by a calling customer or get interrupted by a ringing phone during an important meeting.
Sample of an Incoming Call
Sometimes, in order to get a clear understanding of a new process, a good ol’ example is needed. Here is a general and basic sample of how we can assist your callers by being available and taking a message. (Don’t forget, you get to customize the call script if you’d like).
Virtual Receptionist: “Good morning and thank you for calling Law Offices of David Smith. This is Sara, how can I be of assistance?”
Caller: “Good morning, can I speak with Attorney Smith?”
Virtual Receptionist: “Mr. Smith is currently in a meeting, but I’d be more than happy to take down a message so he can give you a call back at his earliest convenience.”
Caller: “Yeah, that would be great. This is Tom Ramirez and I am calling to find out what I need to bring to my hearing on Friday.”
Virtual Receptionist: “Okay, Mr. Ramirez, and that’s R-A-M-I-R-E-Z, right?”
Virtual Receptionist: “Perfect. Mr. Ramirez, what’s the best telephone number you can be reached at?”
Caller: “He can reach me on my cell at 407-789-0123 or email me the information at TRamirez@mail.com. Email is probably better for me.”
Virtual Receptionist: “Okay, Mr. Ramirez, I will leave a message for Attorney Smith as well as his paralegal, Jennifer. You want to know what paperwork you need to bring to your hearing this Friday, September 30th. I’ll have them email you the information to TRamirez@mail.com and if they have detailed instructions, they’ll give you a call at 407-789-0123.”
Caller: “Sounds great. Thanks so much, Sara.”
Virtual Receptionist: “You’re very welcome, Mr. Ramirez. Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
Caller: “No, I’m good.”
Virtual Receptionist: “Thank you, Mr. Ramirez. I hope you have a great day and please be sure to give us a call back if you need anything else in the meantime.”
Caller: “I will, thanks again. Goodbye.”
Delivery and Retrieval of Messages
Your virtual receptionist team will forward any phone messages you receive in real time. Since we exist solely to make your life easier, you tell us the way you want your messages delivered and we’ll be happy to oblige.
So taking the last example, you would receive a text message, email, phone message or facsimile with the following information:
Existing client, Tom Ramirez, would like to know what he needs to bring with him to his hearing this Friday, September 30, 2016. Please email him the information at TRamirez@mail.com. If you need to speak with him in person, he can be reached at 407-789-0123.
This phone message will be forwarded to you in real-time so that you can send him the information at your earliest convenience. And it really is that simple.
Let Our Telephone Messaging Service Start Working for You!
We hope you now have a full understanding of how our professional telephone messaging service can help you and your business. With over 30 years of experience in the telecommunications and customer service industry, we’re confident that we can meet (and even exceed) your expectations.
Give us a call at 1-800-785-6161 to speak with our account specialist to discuss your particular business’s needs in detail. We offer a wide range of services that can streamline your customer service and telecommunications.
Publish Date: October 5, 2016
Our live answering service has the pleasure of handling the business lines for just about every profession and industry out there. We answer calls on behalf of doctors, electricians, realtors, restaurants and niche businesses (like hot air balloon rides).
For over 30 years we’ve offered highly skilled virtual receptionists to help business owners run their companies more efficiently. We’d like to share 15 signs that your business is ready to start offering your callers assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
15 Examples of a Business That is Ready for a Live Answering Service
1.) You receive incoming calls from potential customers wanting to know more about you and your business. A virtual receptionist can answer your callers’ frequently asked questions for as little as $0.45 per call. All of our packages include after-hour and weekend customer service completely free. That’s right, we don’t charge extra fees to provide your business with 24-hour phone coverage.
2.) You have an in-house receptionist that forwards your business calls to an answering machine every day at 5:00 pm. Your callers don’t want to leave a message, “67% of customers hang up on a phone connection out of frustration they could not talk to a real person.”
3.) Being a respectful professional, you turn your cellphone off when in a meeting. However, when you place that phone on silent, you’re essentially silencing new business opportunities as well. Instead of pressing a few buttons to turn your ringer off, press a few buttons to forward your business calls to a live assistant.
4.) You’re doing very well when it comes to placing high on Google search for your product or service. With the increase in your Google search ranking comes an increase in your business’s call volumes, “70% of mobile searchers have used click to call to connect with a business directly from the search engine results page.”
5.) As your business becomes more and more in demand, you’re spending more and more time in your car going to see existing and potential customers. Cellphone use causes 26% of the nation’s car accidents. Don’t be distracted on the road by a text message or ringing cellphone you feel you have to answer.
6.) You have to turn away customers that speak Spanish or another foreign language. Break down any language barriers by having a multilingual telephone support team that can assist your new customers that may prefer to do business in their native language.
7.) You answer your own lines and in doing so, you spend a lot of time handling administrative work. As a business owner, your time is better spent attending to the more strategic and complicated aspects of your business. Leave administrative tasks to a team of expert phone handlers and get the most out of your day.
8.) Hiring a virtual receptionist also gives you access to a highly trained gatekeeper. Let us know who you’re expecting an important call from or what you consider an emergency. By providing this information, you can be sure that when your phone rings, it’s an important call you need to take. All other calls will be emailed or texted to you in real-time.
9.) If you offer professional services, we understand that not every caller is your ideal client. Don’t waste time speaking with people who you’re not going to be able to assist. A virtual receptionist can be trained to ask your custom qualifying questions and ascertain if the caller is your ideal client.
10.) You understand the importance of marketing your business and you diversify your marketing campaigns amongst many platforms. In order to really track your ROI for each of your marketing initiatives, a live answering service can designate a custom number for each platform. We can then forward you a monthly summary of the ads that pulled in the most phone calls and attention.
11.) You find yourself having to be out of the office on business trips and you’re tired of coming back to a heavy call back list. Whether you have to travel to another state or another country, having a virtual receptionist attend to your callers and keep communication open while you’re away will save you time and headaches upon your return.
12.) You’re entering a new market and find that the new geographical location you’re reaching is in an entirely different time zone than your main office. When you hire a business answering service you’re providing 24-hour assistance to your callers. This will help you tremendously when you have to assist customers in another time zone.
13.) Your customer’s satisfaction is important to you and it’s vital that you get current feedback to make sure everything is running smoothly. We can make outbound calls on your behalf to your past and current customer lists and find out what they think about your customer service. After walking them through a customer satisfaction questionnaire, we can then email you the responses for your review and consideration.
14.) Business is going well and you find that you’re having to schedule more and more appointments on your calendar. As a business owner, you should be more worried about attending appointments than scheduling them. Our virtual schedulers can sync up to your calendar, after qualifying the caller of course, and schedule an appointment in pre-designated time blocks. All appointments are scheduled in real time so you always know what your daily agenda looks like.
15.) As a savvy business owner, you’ve already learned the importance of being available when your customers need you the most. You make it a priority to answer all incoming calls the moment they’re received. So if you’re tired of picking up your business cell phone at 8 pm on a Wednesday or 8 am on a Sunday, it’s time you hired some help. We can handle your after-hour and weekend calls so you’re free to spend quality down time at home with your family without missing out on new business.
Give Our Live Answering Service a Call
We offer custom answering services and the only way to really learn if we’re a good fit for your company is to give us a call at 1-800-785-6161. All businesses are different so after you speak with our account specialist, we can give you expert advice on whether or not your business is ready to hire a live answering service.
Publish Date: September 27, 2016
According to a recent Bloomberg BNA survey, Who is Laboring on Labor Day, “97% of employers [will] provide a paid day off for all or most employees on Labor Day.” How much business are you expecting to lose by closing your business in observance of Labor Day? Or, if you intend to have some employees come into the office to answer calls, how much will their holiday pay cost you?
Outsourcing telephone calls is a solution that many business owners turn to in order to keep their expenses and losses as low as possible around national holidays. By delegating your business lines during holidays, like Labor Day, you can enjoy a stress-free holiday weekend.
The Many Benefits of Outsourcing Telephone Calls
Outsourcing Your Calls Saves Money
The Bloomberg BNA survey also shares that only 9% of businesses polled will be providing straight pay compensation to their employees for working during this holiday.
- • 27% of employers are committed to paying their staff time and a half.
- • 18% will provide both extra pay and compensatory time.
- • 16% of business owners will compensate Labor Day employees with double-time pay.
- • 9% will offer some sort of compensatory time off on top of regular pay.
Allow your employees to enjoy the 3-day weekend like the majority of the American workforce. When you forward your business calls to our holiday answering service, you get the benefit of being available to your calling customers for a fraction of the cost your on-site receptionist would run you.
Here at A Courteous Communications, are fees are pretty straightforward and start as low as $19.95 per month for businesses with low call rates. With this low user basic package, you can enjoy per call rates as low as $0.75.
Let’s do the math. The current minimum wage for the American workforce is $7.25 per hour. For employers offering double-time pay to employees working on a holiday like Labor Day, that hourly rate jumps to $14.50 per hour. For a normal 8-hour workday, you’re looking at a $116 wage for the day to have someone answering your incoming calls.
It’s bad enough that a national holiday will decrease your overall productivity; your payroll doesn’t have to take a hit as well. Hire our virtual receptionists, virtual dispatchers and virtual customer support team to handle your incoming calls for a fee that any business can afford.
Enjoy 24-Hour Phone Coverage
Since the majority of working Americans will be enjoying their Monday off for Labor Day, chances are, they might be shopping around for your product or service. Let’s take a look at just a few example industries that would benefit from having 24-hour telephone coverage this Labor Day weekend (or any other long holiday weekend).
• eCommerce Websites
As the money section of U.S. News points out, “In general, end-of-season products offer the best values during Labor Day weekend, with discounts ranging from 25% to 80%.”
If you own an eCommerce website that is looking to sell your Summer merchandise to make room for Fall products, you’ll want a customer service representative available to take phone inquiries from shoppers. Digital call centers are able to answer your customer’s frequently asked questions, take down phone orders and can even accept secure payments over the telephone.
• Criminal and Family Law Firms
Long holiday weekends can mean emergency phone calls from clients for lawyers practicing criminal or family law. In order to provide elite client services, prepared attorneys need to turn to an after-hours answering service to help field their calls over the weekend.
It’s highly unfortunate, but holidays can sometimes bring out the worst in some individuals. Perhaps your client has a shared parenting plan that the other parent refuses to honor. Family law attorneys will be expected to be available should a mother or father not get their holiday time in with their children.
Criminal attorneys that offer DUI or DWI defense services will undoubtedly be called during this 3-day weekend as well. The Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS) expects a spike in drunk driving this Labor Day weekend, “The data shows that the Saturday increase is expected to continue through Labor Day itself, when violations by alcohol offenders may be more than 80 percent higher than usual.”
Our virtual receptionists are trained in handling legal calls and getting emergency messages to you in real-time, no matter where you are in the world.
• Emergency Service Technicians
Are you a plumber, electrician, repairman or other service technician that offers emergency or weekend services? With everyone at home enjoying the long weekend, home appliances and structures run the risk of breaking. So when a homeowner’s air conditioning unit breaks or their pool pump stops working, you can be sure they’ll be turning to you for emergency assistance or repair.
Outsourcing your telephone calls gives you a whole support team of customer service representatives, service call takers and dispatchers. We work around the clock on your behalf to:
- • Provide 24-hour phone coverage to accept service requests.
- • Qualify your potential customers by quoting your fees and rates upfront.
- • Dispatching on-call technicians to emergency service requests.
- • Accepting and processing payment over the telephone.
- • Answer all of your callers’ FAQs and inquiries, day and night.
No matter your industry, our team can support your onsite team during 3-day weekend holidays. We make sure you don’t miss any important phone calls from both new and existing customers. And we give you the freedom to fully enjoy time with your friends and family without having to constantly worry about how many calls you’re missing back at the office.
Outsourcing Telephone Calls Can Be Easy!
Forwarding your lines is as easy as 1-2-3.
- 1.) Give us a call at 1-800-785-6161 or click here to request a custom quote from our account specialist.
- 2.) Set up your account with our in-house programming team and customize how you want your calls answered and handled.
- 3.) Forward your business lines to us and we’ll make sure your callers are taken care of with our award winning customer service.
Outsourcing telephone calls during national holidays and 3-day weekends just makes sense for business owners.
Publish Date: September 6, 2016