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PATLive - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog

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Can Your Small Business Afford A Call Answering Service?

We know better than anyone that small businesses often come with tight budgets, even as you’re starting to grow. You may be swamped with expenses that you never considered before starting up your own venture like invoicing software, liability insurance, and even pest control for your office if you have one. 

A small budget quickly gets pulled in a million different directions, and that’s before adding on “optional” costs like training, marketing, and employee perks that aren’t actually all that optional.

We understand, therefore, that many small businesses are struggling to manage the incoming calls they’re receiving but assume that they can’t afford a call answering service to help them pick up the slack.

So can your small business afford a call answering service?

While there are several factors that can impact this, the resounding answer is typically “yes.” In this post, we’re going to look at what to consider when deciding if your business can afford a call answering service, including the costs of the alternatives that you’d likely fall back on instead.

How Much Do Call Answering Services Actually Cost? 

Call answering service costs can vary dramatically, and it’s always important to choose a high-quality service. Customer service, after all, should be a priority for all small businesses; it’s not an area where you want to cut corners and suffer the loss of customers as a result.

Fortunately, there are plenty of great, reliable, high-quality call answering services that are also affordable. Many of these services will offer flexible plans, allowing you to use what you need and only that. Services like PATLive, for example, allow you to go month-to-month with no contract, and to be charged only for what you need. 

For example, take a look at our pricing structure. Our plans start at only $39 per month for a pay-as-you-go plan that acts as insurance in the event you’re not able to answer a call or it comes in after hours. If you have an idea of how much call volume you plan to route to an answering service, you may opt for a plan that has included minutes and comes with additional benefits like call transfers and lead collection. 

It’s a good idea to opt into tiered pricing models that reflect your current needs. You can choose a plan based on the features you need and the number of minutes you estimate using. The benefits of a tiered plan that allows for the purchasing of additional minutes, too, can save you money; you don’t automatically need to jump from $269 to $399 per month if you happen to need 201 minutes of call time instead of 200. 

With services like PATLive, you can change your plan as you need it. If you have a slow season, for example, you could downgrade your plan, and scale up again as needed. And if you only host an event once a year, you can upgrade your plan to include order processing or event registrations during the time period you need it, and then scale back again. This works for businesses of all sizes during all seasons of the year, and it starts at just $39 per month as a baseline.

Comparing Costs vs. Cost Savings & Profit Opportunities 

Plenty of businesses might see the cost of an answering service and think “well we just don’t need an additional cost”. Before you do this, though, it’s important to consider what you can save and gain by working with an affordable call answering service. These factors can absolutely determine whether or not you can afford to hire one.

There are two main factors to consider here. Let’s look at both. 

In-House Receptionist Costs 

Many small businesses will rely on in-house receptionists if they choose not to hire call answering services. 

In-house receptionists are great, but they do come with significant added costs. And while call answering service costs may seem a little pricey at first, they pale in comparison to the cost of an employee.

The average in-house receptionist salary is around $27,000 per year, but it can go up to $43,000 a year or more. You’ll be paying the base salary, plus employee taxes, potential health benefits for full-time employees, and the costs of added desks, employee accounts, and more. If your receptionist is paid hourly, you may need to worry about holiday pay and overtime, too.

When you compare this to our most high-priced base plan of $999 per month (amounting to $12,000 per year), the cost savings are clear. 

Even with all of these costs, your receptionist will go home once their shift is over, take weekends off, and have sick leave and vacation. And since customers call on all days and at all hours of the day, sticking with in-person receptionist results in a lost opportunity cost. Which brings us to factor two…

The Lost Opportunity Cost 

If you don’t answer the phone when a potential lead calls or customer calls, you may have missed your chance with them all together. Plenty of customers won’t call back and instead may even reach out to a competitor.

This is a huge risk of lost opportunity costs. Every call that you miss might be a customer that could have converted, eating into your profit before you know it.

With 24/7 coverage from an answering service, however, that is something that you don’t need to worry about. Whenever someone calls and your team isn’t able to answer it directly, we will. Agents can utilize personalized call handling instructions to let help the customer however possible, even if it’s assuring them that someone will be in touch promptly. 

Think about all the calls you might miss during off-hours, when your receptionist is at lunch, or even when they’re on the phone with someone else. That’s a lot of potential customers that you may be missing. 


All small businesses are different, and each one has its own unique needs and budget considerations. As a result, there isn’t one right answer for every business, but in our experience, many small business owners benefit greatly in cost savings and profit gains when working with call answering services.

Keep in mind that plenty of answering services allow you to do a free trial to see how it works for you. This can help you ensure that you’re comfortable with the decision, that the service is right for you, and that your customers are happy. Win-win for everyone involved.

Source: https://www.patlive.com/blog/afford-call-answering-service/

Publish Date: July 15, 2020 5:00 AM


7 Things Every Virtual Office Needs

According to a study conducted by FlexJobs, remote work has grown 91% over the past 10 years. And that was before the COVID-19 crisis, which has even more of the working world doing so at home. Not only is remote work at an all-time high, but the need for a virtual office setup is too.

When the pandemic had employees all over the world quickly switching to a work-from-home arrangement, many were left scrambling for communication solutions and other cloud-based business tools. Luckily, technology has given us more freedom than ever before. Meaning you can run a business from your back porch as long as you have a few key essential tools at your disposal; even if you have just the internet and a computer, your office can be anywhere.

If you’re thinking about going virtual business for the long-haul or hiring remote employees, there are a few things you’re going to need beyond the internet and a laptop to be successful. Here are the top seven things your business needs to run a virtual office.

1. Updated and Modern Website

A current website full of rich content and a powerful strategy for generating web traffic is essential to any virtual business. A quick and easy method for creating your own website is WordPress. Whether you are tech-savvy or not, you can find a template and some plug-ins that will suit just about any business need.

2. Business Email Address

We recommend purchasing a domain (which you’ll probably have when you set up your website) for a personalized email address that represents your business and conveys a higher level of professionalism than an email address that ends in @gmail.com. Again, you want your customers and potential customers to know you’re legit.

3. Postal Address

Even though most people use the internet or cellular service to communicate and pay bills — and it really should not matter where you do your work — your customers need to know that you’re legitimate. A postal address, particularly a post office box, conveys legitimacy in a way that a free email address does not.

4. Virtual Business Phone Number

Virtual phone numbers, like those from Tresta, work by routing calls directly to your smartphone, allowing you to separate work calls from personal calls. You also benefit by boosting your business profile and presenting a polished, professional image.

5. Project Management Tool

You need project management software to help keep you organized no matter where you are in the world. Basecamp, Trello, and Monday.com are all great for organizing projects, tracking progress, and collaborating with others.

6. Customer Relationship Management Tool

A cloud-based CRM tracks all of your customer information and notes in one location. Consider options like SugarCRM, Zoho CRM, or Pipedrive to help manage your lead and customer relationships.

7. Answering Service

How can you run a business and personally answer every single call 24 hours a day? For your business to succeed, you need to have time to work. Let someone else pick up the phones, screen the callers, and forward you only the calls that will help your company grow.

8. Storage and Collaboration Solution

With a virtual office, you need an easy way to store, organize, and share files with your team and customers. Dropbox and Google Drive are among the most popular cloud-based file storage systems. Plus, they’re affordable and offer more capacity than you’ll ever need.

9. Cloud-Based Accounting Software

You can go with the standard of Quickbooks, or explore newer cloud-based options like Freshbooks. Having access to your financials, no matter where you are, is a great way to keep tabs on where your money is going.

10. Chat Tool

Perhaps you have a couple of people on your team who also work from home or in various locations around the world. A chat tool like Slack or Microsoft Teams helps to keep teams united and on the same page. They even offer video calling, making it feel like you’re all in the same room.


Remote work is here to stay. If you’re thinking about setting up a virtual office for your business, you’ll want to ensure you have the right technology on your side. Tools such as project management software and collaboration solutions are the answer to running a successful operation that keeps your clients happy and your business growing.

Source: https://www.patlive.com/blog/5-things-virtual-office-needs/

Publish Date: June 23, 2020 5:00 AM


10 Things Every Virtual Office Needs

According to a study conducted by FlexJobs, remote work has grown 91% over the past 10 years. And that was before the COVID-19 crisis, which has even more of the working world doing so at home. Not only is remote work at an all-time high, but the need for a virtual office setup is too.

When the pandemic had employees all over the world quickly switching to a work-from-home arrangement, many were left scrambling for communication solutions and other cloud-based business tools. Luckily, technology has given us more freedom than ever before. Meaning you can run a business from your back porch as long as you have a few key essential tools at your disposal; even if you have just the internet and a computer, your office can be anywhere.

If you’re thinking about going virtual business for the long-haul or hiring remote employees, there are a few things you’re going to need beyond the internet and a laptop to be successful. Here are the top seven things your business needs to run a virtual office.

1. Updated and Modern Website

A current website full of rich content and a powerful strategy for generating web traffic is essential to any virtual business. A quick and easy method for creating your own website is WordPress. Whether you are tech-savvy or not, you can find a template and some plug-ins that will suit just about any business need.

2. Business Email Address

We recommend purchasing a domain (which you’ll probably have when you set up your website) for a personalized email address that represents your business and conveys a higher level of professionalism than an email address that ends in @gmail.com. Again, you want your customers and potential customers to know you’re legit.

3. Postal Address

Even though most people use the internet or cellular service to communicate and pay bills — and it really should not matter where you do your work — your customers need to know that you’re legitimate. A postal address, particularly a post office box, conveys legitimacy in a way that a free email address does not.

4. Virtual Business Phone Number

Virtual phone numbers, like those from Tresta, work by routing calls directly to your smartphone, allowing you to separate work calls from personal calls. You also benefit by boosting your business profile and presenting a polished, professional image.

5. Project Management Tool

You need project management software to help keep you organized no matter where you are in the world. Basecamp, Trello, and Monday.com are all great for organizing projects, tracking progress, and collaborating with others.

6. Customer Relationship Management Tool

A cloud-based CRM tracks all of your customer information and notes in one location. Consider options like SugarCRM, Zoho CRM, or Pipedrive to help manage your lead and customer relationships.

7. Answering Service

How can you run a business and personally answer every single call 24 hours a day? For your business to succeed, you need to have time to work. Let someone else pick up the phones, screen the callers, and forward you only the calls that will help your company grow.

8. Storage and Collaboration Solution

With a virtual office, you need an easy way to store, organize, and share files with your team and customers. Dropbox and Google Drive are among the most popular cloud-based file storage systems. Plus, they’re affordable and offer more capacity than you’ll ever need.

9. Cloud-Based Accounting Software

You can go with the standard of Quickbooks, or explore newer cloud-based options like Freshbooks. Having access to your financials, no matter where you are, is a great way to keep tabs on where your money is going.

10. Chat Tool

Perhaps you have a couple of people on your team who also work from home or in various locations around the world. A chat tool like Slack or Microsoft Teams helps to keep teams united and on the same page. They even offer video calling, making it feel like you’re all in the same room.


Remote work is here to stay. If you’re thinking about setting up a virtual office for your business, you’ll want to ensure you have the right technology on your side. Tools such as project management software and collaboration solutions are the answer to running a successful operation that keeps your clients happy and your business growing.

Source: https://www.patlive.com/blog/virtual-office-needs/

Publish Date: June 23, 2020 5:00 AM


10 Answering Service Posts Every Small Business Should Read

The Coronavirus pandemic has been a time full of uncertainties. With millions of us social distancing and working from home, small businesses worldwide have been preparing for their new normal as they begin to reopen their doors.

One thing is for sure - your customers and clients are ready to see you again. And, people in general are making more phone calls than they ever have. With voice calls increasing by 35% people are calling to ask when you’re going to reopen, when they can make an appointment, and if you’re going to be changing the way you operate. 

You’ll want to have a live voice answering every call to assure your customer base you’re here to stay and are ready for their business. If you’re considering adding an answering service or have one already but would like to learn how to further leverage the service to benefit your business, these posts are for you. 

What does an answering service do and who needs one?

What is a Remote Receptionist and How Does it Work?

If your business is on the cusp of scaling to the point where you’re considering additional help (or if you’ve reached that point already), consider hiring a remote receptionist before you do anything else, even if you want an in-office worker. 

What Types of Companies Need a Call Center?

In this post, we look at the qualifications your company may have indicating that you could benefit strongly from a call center, as well as discuss the key business sectors that practically require it. 

Who’s Answering Your Phones During COVID-19?

How is a small business to cope with all the changes stemming from the coronavirus crisis while still attempting to grow? Here are five ways your business can benefit from virtual receptionist service during COVID-19.

How can it benefit me and my business?

The Benefits of Outsourcing Calls to An Answering Service

Your in-house staff is your best asset when it comes to running your day-to-day operations, and outsourcing calls with an answering service can do wonders for both your team and can help your business become more profitable. 

7 Surprising Ways to Save Your Small Business Money

Most businesses are happy to save money, but while it’s natural to look for ways to cut costs, you don’t want to do so in a way that will cut into your business’s profit.

How Live Virtual Receptionist Service Helps Grow Your Business

There are plenty of tools that can help, especially if you’re leveraging them correctly. Live virtual receptionist services are one of those tools, and in this post, we’re going to look at how virtual receptionists can help you grow your business effectively.

6 Ways an Answering Service Will Help Improve Your Business & Life

Quality answering services offer numerous benefits that will improve the flow of your workday (and your entire team’s workday!) while also improving your quality of life. 

How do I choose and get the most out of an answering service?

4 Ways to Get the Most Out of PATLive’s Answering Service

In this post, we look at 4 specific ways that you can ensure you’re getting everything you can out of our answering service, providing maximum benefits for your business. 

How to Find the Right Answering Service That Fits Your Business

It’s easy to come to the conclusion that you could scale more efficiently (and painlessly) with an answering service than without one, but finding the right service for you is a little trickier.

Live Answering Scripting: Develop the Perfect Call Script

We get it! No one knows your business like you do. That’s why we work with you to create a customized script. Here’s how we optimize your script to be the best it can be. 

Source: https://www.patlive.com/blog/answering-service-posts-small-business/

Publish Date: June 2, 2020 5:00 AM


How to Personalize Customer Service as a Small Business

While large corporations are everywhere, Americans tend to prefer working with smaller businesses whenever possible.

Small businesses are seen as more accessible. They aren’t bound by rigid policies that don’t make sense like corporations, and they’re often perceived as being heavily involved in the local communities. Customers often trust them more and feel more invested in the business itself. One study even found that 90% of Americans hold favorable views of small businesses, and only 61% said the same about corporations. 

Running your own small business means that you get to do things your way, and that includes your brand’s customer service. 

Offering customer service that’s personalized to each individual customer and tailored to your specific business is a great way to set yourself apart from the competition and exceed your clients’ expectations. In this post, we’re going to take a close look at exactly how you can do this to improve retention rates and bolster your brand reputation.

Set General Guidelines Your Team Can Use to Make Decisions 

Small businesses have an immediate advantage when it comes to customer service in that they typically aren’t bound to the same strict rules that large corporations have to keep things regulated.

It is possible to take things case-by-case, coming up with more personalized solutions for each individual problem as your team sees fit.

In order to take advantage of this perk, a lot of businesses find that it’s useful to set up basic guidelines for their customer service team to use as a suggested framework but to give them the tools and autonomy needed to make decisions on their own.

You may have a general policy, for example, that all missing deliveries are reshipped instead of being issued a refund, but allow your customer service team members to decide when to offer a refund as a solution to specific customers. 

Use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software

When your customers call with a question, concern, or complaint, it can be helpful to understand who they are and what their relationship with your brand is. 

A VIP client who has been a big purchaser for years, for example, would likely appreciate some recognition of their value to your brand and may also have higher expectations for service. Being able to identify these clients quickly is important. 

A frustrated customer who has reached out about the same issue they’re calling about now on two separate occasions would likely become even more annoyed if you offered the same solution you had before. A quick review of the customer in your CRM system could show you past customer complaints and steps taken previously to resolve the solution.

There are tons of great solutions out there. Hubspot is a popular one, and Salesforce is great, but there are plenty of tools that come with a variety of different features and price points. Take some time to find one that works for your business. 

Go Where Your Customers Are

This is a facet of customer service that is sometimes overlooked.

Personalized customer support isn’t just about finding great solutions, but it’s also about being where your customers want to reach you.

Phone support is still a major priority; many customers still prefer to talk to a representative over the phone, especially about urgent or sensitive matters. Hubspot research shows 48% of customers want to use the phone for customer service - over live chat and “contact us” forms.

Phone support shouldn’t be the only form of communication you offer, however. Set up live chat on your site, or at least have a fast-response email option. You should also be checking your social media profiles daily for incoming messages and public comments to ensure that you aren’t missing any communications from your customers. 

Take Advantage of Third-Party Support 

Offering personalized support does take more time than simply going by the books without customizing solutions to your individual customers.

If you’re struggling to manage this bandwidth with your internal team, the good news is that there are tools that can help with this. 

Reliable, high-quality answering services are often a great solution when you’re struggling to keep up with the influx of calls and you don’t want to rush interactions with your customers. Having extra external team members ready to answer the phone means that you won’t have to sacrifice on call quality or quantity, which is essential.

Hiring an answering service like PATLive, for example, can offer customer service to your customers exactly as you would. (Plus a lot of other great benefits too) We take the time to learn about how your business functions and how you handle customer calls. 

We can tackle a brunt of the incoming calls for you, doing everything from collecting lead information to processing payments. And if there’s ever a customer service concern we can’t address, we’ll patch them through to the right team member right away. 


Personalized customer service is becoming an expectation; it’s no longer necessarily extraordinary in its own right. This means that you must be adapting, offering outstanding service that’s tailored to your customer base, giving them the “small business experience” in all the right ways.

If you ever feel overwhelmed with customer support needs, remember that there are plenty of tools you can turn to. CRM software, for example, makes customer relationship management much easier, and social media management tools allow you to monitor and respond to incoming messages quickly. Live answering services like PATLive can also take an enormous burden off your staff, allowing us to help you deliver outstanding service to your customers even when your hands are full. 

Source: https://www.patlive.com/blog/personalize-customer-service/

Publish Date: April 29, 2020 5:00 AM


9 Stress Management Tips for Business Owners & Team Leaders

Managing a team and a business is no easy task, and it can be stressful even under the best circumstances. Trying to tackle business ownership or leadership during a worldwide crisis like the one we’re currently experiencing with the coronavirus pandemic, however, is a challenge that many have never faced before. 

There’s one thing that we keep seeing business owners saying over and over again right now: They’re anxious, and they’re stressed.

While it’s normal to feel heightened amounts of stress during times like these, it’s also essential to manage it carefully. If we don’t, it can take a major toll on our health, resulting in loss of sleep, weakened immune systems, rise in blood pressure, and a general feeling of being on edge. It makes us more likely to get sick while simultaneously leaving us prone to making poor or rash decisions that hurt our businesses in the long term. 

Stress management techniques are going to be essential, both now and on an ongoing basis. In this post, we’re going to take a look at nine easy-to-implement and highly effective stress management tips that business owners and team leaders can immediately benefit from, just in time for April’s Stress Awareness Month!

1. Create A New Routine 

Routines can go a long way with helping stress management, especially for those with chaotic days or anyone who has just had their normal routine changed up (which right now, is almost everyone). 

If you feel like you’re struggling with managing everything on your plate or something in your day is a little off, establish a new routine that’s designed to create order and make your day seem more manageable. 

Some people, for example, will take the first fifteen minutes to review everything they have on their plate, and then spend a designated chunk of time addressing emails and concerns from team members. Then they might tackle their most difficult project once they’re warmed up so that the rest of the day is easy.

Carefully-planned routines will help you not only ease stress, but also can improve productivity at the same time. 

2. Take Breaks to Catch Your Breath 

Some people falsely believe that being a workhorse who powers through the day with no breaks and no lunch and no time to breathe is the best way to maximize productivity. This actually couldn’t be furthest from the truth.

While a great work ethic is important, burn out is a real concern, especially for business owners and team leaders who feel a great deal of pressure at work. You’ll actually reduce stress and increase productivity when you take breaks during the day, giving yourself time to breathe. 

Take a solid lunch break (at least thirty minutes), and multiple ten-minute breaks throughout the day. Get a snack, go for a walk, or even do a few squats or pushups to get your blood pumping. Scroll on Facebook, enjoy a cup of coffee. Whatever you need to do to feel refreshed and ready to go, with all the enthusiasm and none of the stress. 

3. Understand What You Can & Can’t Control 

This is difficult for business owners and team leaders, who are often high-achieving, high-performing individuals. 

There’s a lot that’s outside of our control on a daily basis, and this has only been escalated since the coronavirus outbreak that’s sent plenty of businesses into an unexpected tailspin while trying to adapt. 

You can control, for example, how much money you’re investing in marketing, the effort you’re putting into customer service, and the quality of the products or service that you offer. You can’t control if the economy crashes, if an employee is out sick for three weeks due to a novel virus, or even if the supply is late.

Some things you can account for; you may be able to preemptively train employees on new tasks to keep your business covered if one is sick, or order in products far in advance if you have the capital. Some, though, you just can’t.

It’s important to understand the difference between what you can and can’t control, and this is often extremely frustrating for business owners and team leaders, driving up stress significantly. 

Focus on what is in your control, and work on improving your situation there. For everything else, all you can do is adapt. 

4. Prioritize Health & Wellness 

When you’re making healthy choices for yourself on a day-to-day basis, you’ll likely find that your stress goes down.

When you’re eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep, cutting back on smoking or heavy drinking, and getting exercise, your energy levels will go up and your stress can go down. 

It’s hard to think about taking time to improve your own health when you’re worried about your team or your business, but trust us (and the science!) when we say it will be better for everyone long-term. 

5. Practice Breathing & Meditation Techniques 

Experiencing heightened levels of stress right now?

Intentional breathing exercises and meditation can help you lower your overall and immediate stress when practiced regularly. Both help you to focus on what’s happening right now and may include mindfulness based on sensory experiences right in front of you. 

Check out meditation apps like Calm and Headspace. You can also try box breathing exercises, where you breathe in for four slow counts, hold your breath for four slow counts, and release it for four slow counts and repeat. 

6. Create a Strong Support Network 

While we’re all experiencing new levels of social distancing, isolation isn’t good for anyone. Establishing and reaching out to a strong support network when you’re anxious is a powerful way to combat your stress. 

Mentors in your industry can help you adapt to what’s happening now, offering their connections and their experience to help. They can also commiserate with what you’re going through, and remind you that you’ll get through this.

Open up space for your colleagues and team members, too, creating a strong support network even within your own team. 

Friends and family are important, too. Take time to focus on personal relationships that are fulfilling, and find joy there. We’re social creatures, and interaction (virtual or otherwise) can help reduce stress and promote wellbeing. 

7. Take Time to Focus On The Positive 

When we get stressed, it’s easy to get stuck in a loop where we focus on the negative. Then we just get more stressed, and the negative seems more and more powerful. And thus the cycle continues.

Make sure that even when things are bad, you’re trying to remember the positive. This doesn’t mean you should minimize your concerns or your problems, but it can help put you in a good frame of mind.

Right now, for example, you might be worried about your business, or your team, or overall productivity. But maybe your family is healthy. Or you’re grateful that your team can work from home and stay safe, or that you’ve got access to business loans or core clients that are keeping you in a solid position. 

When you are able to focus on the positive, it’s easier to reduce the overall stress you’re feeling. If you need help with this, you can start each day by writing down at least three things that you’re grateful for. 

8. Manage Your Time Intentionally 

Time management is one of the things that stresses business managers and team leaders the most. This makes sense; they have so much on their plates and it feels like the whole world is on their shoulders.

If you aren’t managing your time correctly, your stress levels will increase. This is pretty much a fact. 

At the beginning of every week, look at what you need to accomplish, and break your schedule down accordingly. Include time for responding to emails and dealing with unforeseen emergencies or concerns. Decide what you can do, and what needs to be delegated out, and then delegate early. 

9. Set Healthy Boundaries & Limits 

Establishing healthy boundaries is an outstanding way that you can keep your business running smoothly while still reducing your stress.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t be flexible, because offering flexibility where possible is always an advantage in business (especially right now, when employees might be dealing with a screaming three-year-old while they’re trying to get on a glitchy conference call). But it does mean that you can set expectations and limits for what you’re able to accommodate.

You may decide, for example, that you’re okay with a staff member working on Saturday instead of Monday because she’s able to get someone to watch her child then, but that she needs to be available on the company Slack channel to answer questions so no one else gets held up. You can also ask that your team doesn’t call you after 6 pm so you can keep your own sanity.

Think about what you need from your staff, and set out clear expectations and boundaries based on that.


Take some time to work through these stress management tips to find what helps you. If you think you may need more help, look up therapists and counselors in your area that offer anxiety management or stress management techniques. Many are offering telehealth services, so you can learn new ways to tackle stress and stay safe.

 April is Stress Awareness Month, and that’s never felt more relevant than right now during the coronavirus outbreak that has sent us all for a loop. Right now, learning how to manage your stress is more important than ever, especially since our old normal doesn’t really exist and it’s essential to keep ourselves as healthy as possible. 

Source: https://www.patlive.com/blog/stress-management-tips/

Publish Date: April 21, 2020 5:00 AM


Who’s Answering Your Phones During COVID-19?

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting small businesses in a variety of ways from shifts in demand to transitioning to work from home, all with very little time to adapt. With about a zillion unknowns (including how long this is going to last) one thing is for sure - your business is still getting phone calls and in some cases even more than before. 

How is a small business to cope with all the changes stemming from the coronavirus crisis while still attempting to grow? Live answering services like PATLive can help. Here are five ways your business can benefit from virtual receptionist service during COVID-19.

Keep Your Customers in The Know

Your customers have questions - more now than ever. You may have temporarily changed your hours, service offerings, or even your pricing and your customers will be calling for all the details. Simply provide a list of frequently asked questions to your virtual receptionist service and they’ll automatically be built into your custom call handling instructions. They won’t even know they aren’t speaking with your business.

Maintain a Full, Booked Calendar 

If you’re an appointment-based business, you’re probably getting a lot of calls asking to reschedule due to the social distancing movement. Don’t let your valued customers or clients go to voicemail! Set a tentative date that you plan to re-open and allow a trusted team of virtual receptionists to manage your calendar so that you’re booked solid upon your return. 

Support Your Customers 24/7

This is a trying time for society worldwide, don’t leave your callers in the dark. With a 24/7 virtual receptionist service, you can brighten your callers’ days by providing them with rockstar customer support no matter where you’re working. Plus, 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies who offer excellent customer service. 

Save Time & Get Calls to the Right Place Quickly 

Virtual receptionists do so much more than just message taking. They can do just about everything an in-office receptionist does, except for bringing you that cup of coffee. They can also screen calls so that you’re only sent the calls you want to take. That way your day is more productive and you’ll sound professional, too. 

Quick, Responsive Service On Every Call

The last thing you want is to let your customers think you’ve shut your doors because you weren’t able to answer every call. Forward your calls to your virtual receptionist to ensure every call is answered quickly. Virtual receptionists can act as your first line of defense or overflow support. 


With so much uncertainty in the world today, people have a lot of questions for your business and are calling for help. Just because you’re working from home in sweatpants doesn’t mean you can’t provide five-star service to your customers and potential customers. 

With affordable virtual receptionist services like PATLive you can keep your customers informed and provide around the clock customer service with friendly, professional agents. PATLive is offering 15% off to help businesses like yours stay operational and continue growing no matter where you are. Call 866-712-1879 to get started today. 

Source: https://www.patlive.com/blog/answering-phones-covid-19/

Publish Date: April 8, 2020 5:00 AM


Small Business Tips: Guide to Working from Home

The number of remote workers has been rapidly increasing over the past five years. In early 2020, 3.4% of U.S. workers worked remotely, accounting for millions of individuals. 

Today, the coronavirus crisis has required millions of people across the world to stay home. As businesses face immediate and unprecedented in-office shutdowns in an attempt to flatten the curve from the coronavirus, they’ve been left scrambling to shift their team to a work-from-home setup.

While having your entire team shift to working from home is a transition, there are steps you can take to make this change quickly and effectively. In this post, we’re going to discuss how you can successfully adapt your business, your team (and your customers) to working from home.

Get Your Communication System Set-Up Fast 

The biggest challenge about working from home will be efficient communication, so you want to have a system in place to keep things flowing right away. This should be your first priority. 

Most teams that benefit from in-person office members will want to rely on immediate, chat-based solutions like Slack or Microsoft Teams. These allow you to have conversation threads with relevant team members that need to see them, and people can read and respond to the messages in real-time. 

The idea is to be able to communicate with your team quickly, preventing employees from working on tasks that need urgent attention from another to have to rely on emails, which may take hours to be seen or responded to. 

You’ll also want to look for a video conferencing solution. Google Hangouts can work, though it can be glitchy for some members. Zoom is a great option that’s also free, and you can also try Skype business accounts. 

You’re also going to want to think about how your customers and potential customers will communicate with you. Are your phones covered? The last thing you want is your customers thinking you shut down your business because your phone is ringing to voicemail. Forward your calls to your personal number in the meantime, or you can set up a live answering service to help offload the ringing phone altogether. 

Establish a Standard Operating Procedure 

Once you’ve got your communication channels set up, it’s good to consider your new normal.

If your team was mostly an on-location team and is now purely remote, normal has kind of gone out the window. You can’t see who is physically at their desk and make rounds to see how they’re doing, for example, or have staff see that you’re available with an open office if they need to chat.

Create a standard operating procedure for how you want work from home to go. You may ask that your team checks in for a quick morning call for a brief recap of what they’re working on to ensure everyone is on the same page, or that everyone send you a message on Slack.

You might also make certain individuals on your team more responsible for being a “point person” than they were in the office so that you aren’t slammed with too many phone calls and requests all at once. 

Decide if you want your team to work relatively typical hours, or what sorts of work will wait until they’re back in office if this is a relatively temporary arrangement. 

Consider Realistic Adjustments that You May Need to Make 

Under normal circumstances, you may not have to make many adjustments for work-from-home team members outside of asking that someone calls into a meeting instead of walking into a conference room.

It’s worth pointing out that right now, circumstances are different. Not only are employees thrust into working from home for the first time when they may not have otherwise made that choice, but they may also be doing so with a roommate, spouse, or children that are all now desperate for entertainment.

Be patient, particularly for those with young and school-aged children who need significant oversight, or for those taking care of a sick family member. You may want to let your team work more flexible hours, knocking out tasks after their kids are in bed. Or, you may need to accept that even using Slack, it takes a few minutes to get a response.

Again, while people are in self-isolation or under stay-at-home orders, hang in there, and consider what reasonable accommodations you can make. Expect productivity to drop, especially at first, and prioritize mission-critical tasks. You can give employees lists of what they should be accomplished daily or weekly if needed. 

Communicate With Your Customers

Just because you’re not in the office anymore doesn’t mean you have to stop providing great service to your customers. It also doesn’t mean that your business has to slow down. Even with social distancing in place, you can still delight your customers, and in some ways, even more so.

Communicate changes to your customers such as hours, service offerings, special deals or discounts. For example, let them know if they should expect longer service times and they’ll likely be understanding about it.

You can even post helpful tips like ways to use extra time during quarantine or your limited-time promotion. Post on your social media profiles and within any local groups you’re a part of. 

Update your customer base regularly, let them know we’re all in this together. Great communication during times of uncertainty can serve as a fantastic long-term relationship builder between your business and customer base.


Remote work is an incredible asset and it’s beneficial to many companies. Most of those companies, however, have plenty of time to shift to a fully- or partially-remote system long in advance, however. It is more challenging when you have teams and employees who may not have ever intended on-going remote to suddenly be forced to change directions with extremely little notice.

The good news is that working from home is definitely possible for a large number of office jobs. If TV anchors are able to deliver the news from their homes on Skype, trust us when we say your office can tackle the challenge, too!

Be aware of what these changes will require, and get ready to be adaptable; this is unprecedented for everyone right now, so a little trial and error might take some time. That’s okay; this is one time where we can all afford to be a little more patient.

Source: https://www.patlive.com/blog/small-business-tips-work-home/

Publish Date: April 1, 2020 5:00 AM


How Technology is Changing Customer Service

Your clients’ expectations for customer service have shifted dramatically in the past decade. 

The internet and all that comes with it have allowed for more businesses to flourish despite geographical constraints (thus creating a buyer’s market) and made it easier for brands to offer superior customer service if they wanted to go the extra mile. 

As a result, customer service is now a defining factor in how users perceive your business, and it’s essential to your business’s success. More customers than ever are looking at customer service when deciding who they want to do business with, and it’s crucial for client retention. 

Technology has clearly allowed customer service to take center stage, but it’s still continually shifting what customer service looks like and what customers expect. In order to help you stay up to date on all the latest trends, let’s take a look at each one and how you can start implementing them today.

Real-Time Messaging is Replacing Delayed-Response Methods like Email 

You’re likely familiar with the experience of navigating to a new website and seeing a live chat box pop up within seconds, with a helpful AI bot asking how they can assist you. 

Live chat and other real-time messaging options are becoming increasingly popular, and are slowly edging out delayed-response messaging solutions like email or help desk systems. While these options do still have a place in customer service, make sure that you have the staff and tools you need to offer exceptional support through phone calls, live chat, social media messaging (including comments on public posts), and even texting. 

If you need help handling an influx of customer service requests, consider outsourcing where you can. PATLive, for example, can guarantee that every phone call to your business is answered in three rings or less so that no customer is waiting on hold and at risk for hanging up. There are also marketing agencies that specialize in social media engagement and community management, taking some of the burden off your team. 

AI Solutions Streamline Customer Service Efforts 

Remember those artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots we mentioned in the last section? They’re becoming more prominent in customer service, and that’s a huge asset to customers and businesses alike when they’re used correctly.

AI customer support like chatbots and smart help desk solutions are valuable to customers who want near-instant service. They can get the ball rolling for your staff, quickly answering common questions like “what’s your return policy” or “how much are your monthly subscriptions” in a few seconds or less. 

It’s important to note that all customer service shouldn’t be handled by AI. Instead, it should only be used to support your customer service team, quickly managing simple-but-common questions that could slow your team down so that they can handle more involved customer concerns that actually require one-on-one attention. 

Customer Service Can Now Be Improved Through Data Analysis 

There are now tools that you can use to derive data from your phone traffic, especially when you’re using virtual business numbers like Tresta’s

They’ll provide real-time call recordings and analytics to help you assess everything from which representatives take the most calls to what solutions may benefit you most. You can also see which individual marketing channels are driving the most phone calls to your company, easily assessing which platforms benefit you most. 

The more information you have about your call traffic, the more you can optimize the service you’re delivering. If you notice an increase in calls during the holidays or around product releases, for example, you may realize that you need to expand your team temporarily or hire more help through outsourcing during upcoming release periods. 

Self-Service Is Increasingly Important 

Instantaneous is the name of the game in customer support right now, especially since no one wants to wait for help when whatever they bought from you isn’t working correctly. 

Quick troubleshooting and fast answers available online instead of a basic “support desk” where someone only has the option to send an email and wait 24 hours is becoming more common. You can have an extensive support selection that’s a little like a massive FAQ, going over common issues and sharing answers, troubleshooting tips, and the next steps that you can take to resolve the issue.

Again, this offers instant connection and help to your customers in a convenient way, while still freeing up your own customer support team to handle other customer inquiries that require their direct attention. 

Representatives Can Use Improved CRM Tools to Offer More Personalized Service 

Customer relationship management tools are more advanced than ever before, making it easier for businesses to efficiently track each individual prospect, lead, and customer and their individual relationship with them. 

Your sales team and your customer support team can use these tools to better track what they know about each individual customer so that they can personalize customer service moving forward. This includes quickly reviewing the past concerns each customer had individually while on the phone with them, and what resolutions have or haven’t worked in the past. The ability to understand a customer’s past history with your business is essential to offering truly personalized service, which is the best type of service you can offer. 


Technology has made customer service a bigger deciding factor in who customers want to do business with while simultaneously making it possible for businesses to live up to these heightened expectations.

All businesses need to be putting customer support as one of their top priorities, just as they would prioritize the quality of their products or reliable shipping. Customers will take note if they’re getting less-than-ideal support, and they’ll immediately leave for one of your competitors instead. Make sure that you’re staying up to date with all the new technology and changes it’s causing to stay competitive and keep your customers happy.

Source: https://www.patlive.com/blog/technology-customer-service/

Publish Date: March 18, 2020 5:00 AM


6 Simple Ways to Create a Lifetime Customer Base

All businesses understand the value of customer acquisition, placing enormous amounts of time, energy, and money into attracting and converting new customers. Adding new customers to your roster is essential for growth, so this is a justified priority.

Too many brands, however, stop there; they land one customer, and they move onto the next. This is a crucial mistake, as it prioritizes customer acquisition over customer retention. You need both for growth, especially since it’s anywhere from 5-25x more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. 

You want to win over your customers over and over again so that you’re creating a lifetime customer base, and in this post, we’re going to go over six ways to do exactly that. 

1. Offer Unparalleled Customer Service 

Customer service is key to maintaining strong customer relationships and high retention rates. Consider that 96% of consumers around the world state that customer service is an influential factor in their loyalty to a chosen brand, and that 93% are more likely to make repeat purchases with customer service-oriented businesses. 

Offering the best customer service around is the best way to create a lifetime customer base. People aren’t likely to want to leave when you’ve always treated them well.

Personalized customer service is essential. Each of your team members (internal and external included!) should have the training and resources so that they can offer customized solutions for each individual customer. This will increase customer satisfaction and retention rates significantly. 

2. Create Loyalty Programs 

Loyalty programs are an incredible incentive for customers to stick around a little bit longer. 

Some brands have loyalty programs that allow you to redeem cash value on a future purchase after you’ve spent a certain dollar amount. Others will offer exclusive access to deals, sales, and even store gift cards to those who have been with their businesses for a certain length of time or who have spent above a specific threshold.

Loyalty programs incentivize your customers to purchase more and to stick around, all while showing them that you value their business.  

3. Set Up Referral Marketing Programs 

Referral marketing programs are useful in creating lifetime customer bases in two ways.

First, they’ll engage your current audience, keeping them interested and invested in your product. You’re asking them to reach out to their friends and family, singing your praises in exchange for a potential coupon code or discount. Even simple referral programs can help convert typical customers into brand advocates, which is wildly advantageous for keeping them around longer.

Referral marketing programs also have a tendency to result in higher-quality, higher-retaining clients. Customers that come from referral marketing programs have an average of 39% higher retention rates than other customers and have a 70% higher conversion rate. You’re closing deals faster, more often, and with higher-value clients who both spend more and stick around longer.

You can learn more about how to set up effective referral marketing programs here

4. Keep Your Audience Engaged with Regular Contact 

Want to keep your customers around? Then you need to engage with them regularly, even if they aren’t reaching out on their own.

A combination of social media marketing, email marketing, and content marketing can all be useful here. Offer subscriptions to your online blog so that your followers never miss your top posts, try to drive follows across multiple social platforms, and use targeted, segmented email campaigns to engage with different niches of your target audience.

The more you can build a relationship with your audience, the better. If you stay relevant and at the front of their mind (or at least the top of their inbox or social feed), they’re more likely to continue purchasing moving forward. 

5. Ask for Feedback & Act On It 

Want to find out how you can keep your customers around longer and create a lifetime customer base? 

Ask them what they want.

You should not only regularly ask customers for public reviews, but also to share private feedback about their experience with you. You can have account managers reach out, or send anonymous Google Forms to customers. Ask what they liked about their experience with you, what they’d like to see in the future, and what they’d like you to do differently.

Your customers will likely share great, honest feedback. If there’s something in the process they feel should be changed, take note; you never want to settle for “good enough,” because eventually something great might come along and steal your customers out from under you. Take feedback seriously, and consider implementing it where appropriate. 

6. Stay Competitive In Your Market 

It’s important to remember that our business doesn’t exist in a bubble. While your product and prices may be great, there may be new competition in the market that can beat your prices.

It’s important to stay aware of what’s happening in your industry, especially amongst direct competitors who will be vying for your existing and future customers. Pricing fluctuations, standard policies, and quality are all factors to look at when assessing your competition. No matter how loyal your customers are, many could be persuaded if they’re promised a similar product at a fraction of the cost.

Make sure that when you’re marketing your product to potential new leads and existing customers alike that you’re stressing what makes you different. Doing this while building personal relationships will be essential to keeping your competition’s greedy hands away from your customers. 


Lifetime customer bases are the dream for businesses. You’re not worried about high customer acquisition costs, your churn rates go down, and your individual customer lifetime value (CLV) increases significantly. It’s easier and more cost-effective all the way around.

While lifetime customer bases aren’t necessarily the easiest to build and it won’t happen overnight, these 6 simple tactics are incredibly efficient strategies, and they’re a great place to start. 

Source: https://www.patlive.com/blog/lifetime-customer-base/

Publish Date: February 19, 2020 5:00 AM


How to Transform Negative Reviews Into Opportunities

Every business with an online presence will experience it at some point. That dreaded, awful feeling that comes when you see a “less than glowing” review from a customer pop up online. 

Maybe their order came late, or not at all, or arrived broken. Perhaps they felt they ended up with lackluster customer service. We’re all human, and mistakes happen. It’s also possible that your product or service just wasn’t a great fit for their needs, and that’s being expressed in a negative review.

Negative reviews happen, and often they can be turned into an opportunity for your customer service to shine. In fact, 73.8 percent of customers are either likely or extremely likely to continue doing business with a brand that resolves their complaints. So before you try to start hiding or deleting them, pause and take a deep breath. 

Besides, consumers who see nothing but dozens of five-star testimonials can get a little suspicious that it’s too good to be true; having one or two negative reviews pop up actually increases customer trust, as long as you have many more people singing your praises than pronouncing your flaws. They can also give you a chance to show customers that you’ll own up to mistakes and make it right and that your customer service is top-notch.

In this post, we’re going to take a close look at how you should deal with negative reviews and how to turn them into a positive for your small business.

Have Strategies in Place to Identify Negative Reviews Immediately 

If a negative review pops up online, you want to know about it immediately.

When you’re using review software on your site, you likely have the option to assess new submissions before they’re automatically published. You can’t do this with platforms like Facebook, Google+, or Yelp, which publish the reviews automatically, and you definitely can’t do this with general negative postings that people make on their own timelines that mention your brand directly.

You need to have systems in place so that you can identify negative reviews as soon as they go up online, allowing you to address them quickly. Reviews are most dangerous when you haven’t even had a chance to tackle them yet.

Make sure that a member from your team is checking all of your review sites daily, and enable notifications via email when new reviews come in. It’s also good to check your social channels regularly or use social listening software like Mention so you can track anyone talking about your brand publicly online. 

Investigate the Customer’s History if Possible 

As soon as you see a negative review pop up online, do a quick investigation into what may have happened if possible.

This is important, and it will shape the next steps you take.

If you have CRM software, this can help speed up the process. You can track past interactions from a customer, including past complaints, appointments, support tickets, and purchases. You can verify parts of their story, and see what efforts you made to repair the problem along the way, if any.

You may not be able to find every customer who left every review. Maybe they’re leaving the review under their name, even though their boyfriend is the one who made the purchase. Don’t rule someone out automatically just because the names don’t line up, but you can also look for fragrantly false reviews at this point. 

Respond to the Review Publicly 

Responding to the review publicly and promptly is one of the best things you can do. It will show the customer that you care, potentially giving you a chance to salvage that relationship. Perhaps even more importantly, it will show other potential customers that you care and that you’ll care about them, too.

Here’s the basic formula you need:

  • Apologize and empathize
  • Address the specific situation
  • If you have their phone number inform the individual you’ll be reaching out TODAY. If not, ask them to reach out to you privately on a specific channel; leave instructions.

It may look something like this:

“Hey Patricia. We’re so sorry to hear that your shipping experience with us was less than satisfactory. We’d love a chance to make it right. We will be shipping you a replacement today and will happily refund you for the trouble. We will notify you with tracking information today.” 

You can be fully apologetic and still put your foot down when appropriate. If you have a clear record of the incident and the customer isn’t being entirely truthful, it’s okay to gently and professionally address that with a message like the following:

“Hey Patricia! We’re sorry to hear that you weren’t happy with your experience with us. Our records do show that our customer support team reached out to offer a full refund or a replacement. If you could reach out to us at [email protected], we’d love to talk more about how we can help.” 

Stand your ground where appropriate. It’s your business after all, and the customer is not always right. Just ensure that you’re always being polite and professional, or it will rub other customers the wrong way. 

Try to Have the Review Removed If It’s Fake 

Do you have reason to believe that the review is fake? If someone is making outrageous claims that you know aren’t true, you can flag the report for review on most major platforms. They may hide it temporarily while they review and ask one or both parties to share evidence to justify either taking the review down or leaving it up.

Reviews should only be hidden or removed if there’s no possible reconciliation because they aren’t true. Sometimes irate ex-employees or even individuals from our personal lives get vindictive, and that should never interfere with our livelihoods. 

How to remove reviews will depend on each individual platform, but you can start here for the major ones:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Yelp 

Negative reviews are never fun to receive, but they don’t have to take a major hit on your business. In many instances, they may even help your business. Having a strategy and quickly offering a solution can often lead to edited reviews that will make you look like a customer service superstar. 

In addition to taking these reactive steps, it’s also important to be proactive. Reach out to customers who you knew were happy with their experience, and ask them personally to leave reviews on the major platforms. Start with Google, as it has a major impact on driving search visibility. This will ensure that negative reviews are drowned out by more positive ones, giving you more control over the situation and taking it away from one or two unhappy customers.

Source: https://www.patlive.com/blog/negative-online-reviews/

Publish Date: February 12, 2020 5:00 AM


The Benefits of an Answering Service Over In-House Staff

If you ask a list of small businesses if they’d like 100% of their phone calls answered, they’d say “Of course!”. If you ask the same small businesses if they need an answering service, the answers will most likely vary. Maybe it’s because of a limited budget, maybe it’s because they don’t realize how many valuable phone calls they’re missing, or perhaps it’s because they have in-house staff capable of answering phone calls and don’t have a need for an answering service.

Either way, we can all agree that missing phone calls means missing out on potential business. In 2018, U.S. businesses lost $75 billion due to poor customer service. Your in-house staff is your best asset when it comes to running your day-to-day operations, but adding an answering service to your call flow can do wonders for both your team and your bottom line. Here are some top benefits of hiring an answering service in addition to your in-house staff.

We’re available 24/7/365.

This means you’ll never miss a call again. Ever. Our contact center is ready for your calls at lunchtime, at 3 am and even on holidays. You can rest easy knowing your callers are being taken care of around the clock.

We sound just like your business.

We may not work in your office, but it will sound like we do. Our proprietary scripting software allows our scripting consultants to create a script that is completely custom to your business.

It’s more affordable than you think.

When it comes to pricing, we’ve got options. We bill based on usage and have six different pricing plans. This way you’re not paying for more than you need. You’re billed on a month-to-month basis, no contracts necessary. You can upgrade or downgrade at any time.

We alleviate work from you and your team.

Stopping what you’re doing to answer a phone call about your hours can really put a damper on your productivity level. Route those types of calls to an answering service so you and your team can stay focused on the task at hand.

We make your callers happy.

Friendly, professional virtual receptionists are kind of our thing.  Our goal is to delight our callers with top-notch service at all times, and happy callers turn into repeat customers.

Our agents are already trained.

It takes time and money to hire and train an in-house receptionist. We do the heavy lifting when it comes to finding the talent and transforming them into customer service rockstars.


A great answering service is available at all times, offers plenty of pricing options, and has a track record of great customer service. Your team is your most valuable asset. Do them a favor by hiring an answering service to handle the ringing phone. You’ll capture more business opportunities, provide your customers with five-star service, and boost productivity company-wide.

Source: https://www.patlive.com/blog/benefits-answering-service/

Publish Date: January 21, 2020 5:00 AM


How Live Virtual Receptionist Service Can Help Grow Your Business

Many businesses will want to scale at some point. While scaling can lead to growing pains, it can also lead to more profit and overall stability for the company itself, both of which are incredible incentives to do so.

Growing a business, of course, isn’t necessarily an easy task; if it was, more companies would be rapidly expanding, with empires popping up all around us as if they were Starbucks. Though it isn’t easy, however, there’s some good news: There are plenty of tools that can help, especially if you’re leveraging them correctly.

Live virtual receptionist services are one of those tools, and in this post, we’re going to look at how virtual receptionists can help you grow your business effectively.

What Are Live Virtual Receptionists? 

Live virtual receptionists are real people (not chatbots) that are available to answer calls going into your business, handling them as an in-office receptionist would, but they’re not physically in your office. 

High quality answering services like PATLive will have a contact center full of talented, experienced, and highly-trained customer service experts who will be available to take on the calls coming to your business, and they’re capable of doing more than just answering a call and sharing your business’s working hours; they can process payments, book appointments, and more. 

How Live Virtual Receptionists Can Help Grow Your Business 

Wondering exactly how hiring a virtual receptionist service can help you grow your business? Take a look at these four clear benefits, and see if they line up with your business’s current or future needs. 

You Never Risk Missing a Potential Customer 

If you’ve got an in-office receptionist (or if you’re handling all your calls yourself), chances are good that you want to shut down during your off-hours so you can get some rest and enjoy your time away. 

That’s hard to do if no one is answering the incoming calls that inevitably stream in during the off-hours, holidays, and busiest times of the year. 

Live virtual receptionist services, however, are the perfect solution. The receptionists available 24/7, 365 days a year. You’ll never miss a single client call, and you won’t have to pay exorbitant holiday pay or overtime fees. 

Keep in mind that if most leads call and you don’t answer, they’re unlikely to leave a voicemail and they may never call you back. A live virtual receptionist service will prevent you from missing even a single client, allowing you to grow more rapidly. 

Customer Calls Are Never Rushed 

When you hire a live virtual receptionist service, not only are you ensuring that client calls are never missed, but you’re also guaranteeing that customer calls aren’t rushed, either.

If you have a single in-office receptionist or customer support person trying to tackle every incoming call, there are going to be long wait times, and inevitably someone will be pushed off the phone a little faster because there are so many more calls and tasks to manage. That’s not what you want, because it can prevent your customers from receiving top-tier customer service.

Live virtual receptionist services are happy to spend time on the phone with your customers, chatting to build rapport and helping them with everything from booking appointments and processing payments to registering for events. Customers and potential customers will never be rushed; there are always more virtual receptionists from the contact center who can handle additional calls that come in during the meantime. 

You Aren’t Distracted by Non-Critical Calls 

Productivity is everything when it comes to growing your business. You need to allocate your most valuable resource wisely, and that resource is your time.

Trying to manage calls during the day will prevent you from focusing, and can slow down your entire team. This means that it will take longer to get around to mission-critical tasks that are necessary to grow your business moving forward, keeping you stagnant and stuck. 

You don’t want your productivity to be interrupted, especially when you’re trying to get your creative and problem-solving juices flowing. A live virtual receptionist can handle your incoming calls so that you can put your attention where your business needs it most. 

You Save Money That Can Be Reinvested in Other Areas 

Believe it or not, high-quality answering services like PATLive’s will typically save you money. This happens for the following reasons:

  • It’s more affordable to hire an answering service than to have an in-office receptionist, and you get more coverage with more live VR agents than a single in-office team member could provide.
  • You never miss a call, so you never miss the chance to convert a client.
  • There’s no overtime or holiday pay.
  • We can qualify leads, process orders, set up appointments, take messages, and more, helping you make sales faster. 
  • You can focus more on money-making tasks while we handle the calls, giving you more earning potential.

Once you add up all these benefits, you can save costs in some areas while earning more profit overall. This gives you a major net positive, which you can then reinvest back into your business, enabling growth even further.

Want to get more aggressive about your marketing campaigns so you can reach new audiences and get more clients? You could invest more funds there. Or you could invest in new products or services, or even hire new team members so that you can grow internally. 

Growing businesses can always benefit from funds, so this is a powerful reason in and of itself. 


Live virtual receptionists can be an incredible addition to businesses of all sizes, even though they aren’t an employed team member who works 9-5 in your office. Here at PATLive, our virtual receptionists are highly trained and know exactly how to help your customers just like you would, allowing us to act as an extension of your business to best serve your customers. 

You’ve got enough on your hands trying to grow a business; at least let a virtual receptionist take the phone calls of your plate.

Source: https://www.patlive.com/blog/virtual-receptionist-grow-business/

Publish Date: January 15, 2020 5:00 AM


5 Customer Service Skills that Drive Every Business

Customer service departments don’t just exist to address issues after they’ve already happened; they’re meant to be proactive parts of your overall business strategy.

The level of competition in almost every field is so high that customer service has become a key decision making factor for most buyers today. 96% of consumers, for example, stated that customer service is an influential factor in their choice of brands, and 93% are more likely to make repeat purchases with customers who have strong customer service.

According to Salesforce, 88% of high-performing service decision makers are making significant investments in agent training, versus only 57% of decision makers with low-performing service. There are certain customer service skills that are particularly valuable when it comes to driving your business forward, helping you to attract and retain clients both immediately and long-term while improving your overall brand reputation. So let’s take a close look at the five most important skills you need your staff to develop.

1. Empathy 

Imagine that you’re calling the customer support line of your credit card company, frustrated beyond belief because your purchase of an online Lowes gift certificate was flagged as suspicious and your account was locked. You need that credit card, which you’ve just opened to buy all your new furniture for your first house, but now it’s temporarily frozen.

Do you want someone on the other end of the line who is cold, clinical, and maybe apologizes but only keeps repeating company policies back to you? Of course not. This is a stress-inducing, blood-pressure-raising incident that could bring on a breakdown even for people who aren’t in the middle of buying a home or moving, so the only thing that might make you feel better is someone who genuinely apologizes, expresses that they’re stressed for you, and conveys that they have a quick solution.

Empathy is such a crucial skill for strong customer service agents, that it’s one that can impact your business’ success moving forward. It allows your team members to really connect with your customers and is a core component in how your clients view your brand. 

2. Personalized Problem Solving 

Let’s go back to the example above. Do you want to just be told “Sorry, that’s policy, good luck,” or do you want the agent you’re working with to actually try to find you a solution that works for you? 

Personalized problem solving is an insanely valuable skill set that all good customer service agents should have if you want to drive your business forward. They’ll be able to deliver true customer service excellence in a way no other competitor can, because you’ve given them the training and the ability to reasonably take matters into their own hands.

In order to enable your team to deliver personalized problem solving, give them guidelines they can work within to help their customers, and while you can offer suggestions for how to handle specific circumstances, let them know when they can go off-script. 

3. Active Listening 

Plenty of people listen half-heartedly, thinking about what they’ll say next instead of really concentrating to what the other person is saying.

Active listening, on the other hand, is all about paying careful attention to what the other person is saying and letting them know that you’re doing so. It’s no surprise that this is a huge skill your customer service team should possess if you want them to be a standout part of your business.

Active listening will not only increase the likelihood that they retain what the customers are saying, but also that the customer will feel heard and understood.

A few ways to practice active listening over the phone include:

  • Not interrupting the caller
  • Asking clarifying questions at the appropriate time to show that you’re listening and want to understand
  • Offering short “I see” and “ok” statements to show that you are engaged in the conversation
  • Summarizing the client’s main points to ensure you’re on the same page and show that you were paying attention

4. Knowledge of Your Customers 

When your customers call your customer support numbers, they don’t want to have to do a ton of explaining or state the same thing over and over to different agents. Instead, they want you to have a basic idea of who they are, their past purchases, and their past experiences with you. If this is the fourth time they’ve called you because you’ve frozen their account, they expect that you’ll have some of this history down in your notes somewhere.

Understand your customers as a whole. In general, who are they and what motivates them? What are their pain points and what solution does your company’s product or service offer them? Someone who is using your online portal because they’re stressed and overwhelmed for time, for example, is going to be frustrated beyond belief if they have to keep calling because there was a glitch that caused them to lose half an hour of work.

Your customer service team - and any agencies that you hire to take on calls, like PATLive - should have access to your CRM (customer relationship management) software, allowing them to quickly get up to speed on the individual customer at the start of each call.

5. Knowledge of Your Product 

You don’t just need knowledge of your customers in order to deliver great customer service; you also need to know a great deal about your product or service. Plenty of people will call customer service with questions, concerns, or complaints. If the representative isn’t familiar with company policies, available services, or how to use or care for different products, they won’t be able to best serve the client they’re working with.

Imagine, for example, you’re running a bakery. Someone calls to ask about your cupcakes, and they want to know if they’re certified as gluten-free because they’re allergic. Your customer service rep says, “Yes, they’re definitely gluten-free”, but in reality, they’re only made without gluten ingredients but are prepared in an area with a high likelihood of cross-contamination. They can’t be certified gluten-free because of this, and a customer service rep who hasn’t been trained to know the difference could cause someone to become very sick, which could lead to a legal liability. 

Make sure your staff and any answering service agency working for you have a deep dive in knowledge about your products, service, and brand. This will go a long way. 


Great customer service can be a powerful differentiator that helps your business stand out, even in the face of fierce competition. In order to deliver great customer service, however, your team needs to be more than just friendly; they need to come equipped with an effective and versatile skill set allowing them to best serve your clients across the board. 

When it comes to customer service, we pride ourselves on training and nurturing these soft skills. In a note from our CEO, Austin Davidson, during Customer Service Week 2019, he noted, “As we all know, answering the call is about a lot more than just ‘being on the phone’. It’s about being on point – being friendly, professional, and engaging with every single caller. That’s hard to do… But day in and day out, what I see, is a team of agents doing an amazing job.”

Ensure that your customer support staff is fully trained in each of these five key skills and you’ll start to see the benefits of a proactive customer service process in no time at all. 

Source: https://www.patlive.com/blog/5-customer-service-skills/

Publish Date: November 12, 2019 5:00 AM


The Benefits of Call Answering Services: An Infographic

As a busy business owner, you know the importance of the ringing phone but that doesn’t mean you have the time or resources to answer every call. Enter call answering services, the business solution that does so much more than message taking. With service packages now starting at just $39/month, you can rest easy knowing your business calls are being answered by friendly and professional virtual receptionists. Read on to learn the benefits of a call answering service for your business.

Source: https://www.patlive.com/blog/answering-services-infographic/

Publish Date: November 7, 2019 5:00 AM

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