Running a small business is incredibly difficult. The smaller the business, sometimes, the harder it is to operate effectively. If you’re running a business with no actual employees, you are the only person who is responsible for making sure that everything goes smoothly. That means you are the one who answers the phone calls, takes messages, and handles customer complaints. You also handle customer orders and revisions. So, what do you do if you want to take a vacation or if you get sick? Maybe you just want to take a meeting without getting bothered by phone calls, and you also don’t want to miss those phone calls. That means you only have a few options.
The first and most obvious solution is to hire an employee who will answer the phones for you. These individuals are usually called executive assistants or secretaries. They handle your phone calls, your messages, and dealing with customers. In many situations, a phone call is the first line of communication between your business and your customers. As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Phone calls are completely verbal, with no visual cues to help you understand the other person’s mood, inflection, or subtle meaning. Therefore, whatever secretary you hire has to be trained in answering phone calls and dealing with tense situations, such as a customer complaint. Also, that person has to be trained in maintaining his or her calm under the pressure of unhappy customers. Unhappy customers often don’t want to leave your business; after all, they chose your business for a reason. Oftentimes, they simply want to be heard and understood. They want someone to address their problems as a serious matter, and they want someone to respond to their legitimate concerns. That’s oftentimes more than enough to make the customers happy. However, for that to happen, the person answering your phone has to sound very calm and professional. That sort of thing requires training.
So, when you are hiring a secretary, you have to make sure you can train that person to do the job. Also, you have to make sure you can afford to hire that person. In addition, you will have to schedule your vacations or meetings with your secretary, so you’re both not away from the phones at the same time. Secretaries need time off, they get sick, and they have bad days. So, they’re maybe not the best option.
Instead of a secretary, what can you do?
Phone Answering Service
If you want all of the benefits of a skilled receptionist without having to worry about the receptionist taking sick days, acting unprofessionally, missing work, or ruining your profit margins, you should look into a different option. Telephone overflow services specialise in answering your phone on behalf of your business without breaking the bank. These services work in a very simple way.
When you decide that you need someone else to answer your phones, you should call a company that answers your phone. That can mean you need a full-time receptionist, or you just need someone to answer your phone for a few hours or days while you’re out of the office. Whatever you need, they can provide it for you. So, you set up a system with one of these companies for them to handle your phone calls. The very best systems allow you to sign up for only as long as you need. Some of the other systems will require you to sign a contract for weeks, months, or even years. With the best companies, you only pay as much as you need. So, if you need to forward calls to the service for a few hours while you are in a meeting, that’s fine. If you need to forward calls to a service for a few days, because you’re on vacation, that’s fine. You can even use one of these services as your permanent receptionist.
You pay them to answer your phone as your company. They will answer the phone and deliver your messages. They can deliver them via text, SMS, email, or some other form that you prefer. They can even hold the messages until you get back if you don’t want to deal with them while you’re on vacation or whatever.
Even if you aren’t completely overwhelmed with phone calls all the time, you might find that you need some help answering them. If you, for example, work in a seasonal business like shipping and freight, you experience wild swings in your customer base. That means you might spend the holiday season completely swamped, while the rest of the year is completely slow. You don’t want to hire a receptionist just for a few days or months. That’s when you would use one of these phone answering services just for your overflow phone calls. They can pick up the phone when you are unable to; that way, you don’t have to put anyone on hold. Customers who are placed on hold for too long will eventually hang up. You don’t want your customers to hang up. You want them to stick around and spend their money with you.
So, essentially, there is a way to handle your phone call needs without resorting to hiring someone like a receptionist. Hiring a receptionist would mean that you have to pay someone, train him or her in the job, and hope that that person develops into a skilled receptionist. When you no longer need that person, you have to fire her or hold onto her even when you aren’t making the profits to support the position.
The other option is to hire a phone call answering service that will replace any receptionist. They will answer your phones for you when you need it on behalf of your business. You can pay them only when you need them. That gives you the freedom to add extra receptionists during your busy season and then cancel your subscription when you no longer need their help. It’s a perfect situation.
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