To find out about 24 hour call answering and handling services you often have to wade through a lot of literature. There’s more to it than meets the eye and suppliers such as ourselves offer a wide range of services to meet the needs of different types of customer. Don’t worry about all that for now. Let’s cut straight to the chase and jump into the seven most important things you need to know about a 24/7 call answering service before you sign up.
1. You don’t need an existing business phone number!
Do you already need a business phone number set up to use a 24/7 call handling service? No, you don’t. Many of our customers are decentralised businesses who don’t have a permanent office or fixed business landline. We also help start-up business owners who are looking for their first telephone number for their new venture. We can provide a phone number of your choice, which can be advertised on your website and put on business cards and email footers. There are a range of area codes and phone numbers available, including freephone and national, or non-geographical codes. Of course, if you already have a business phone number that’s fine, too – you can simply set up your existing number to divert calls to us whenever you choose.
2. Our agents can filter out sales and marketing calls
A common objection to using a service such as ours is that potential customers resent paying money to answer unsolicited sales calls. Cold calls are, unfortunately, a fact of life for all business phone lines, so are to an extent unavoidable. However, our agents are trained to quickly distinguish sales and marketing calls from genuine enquiries, and will always ask for your number to be removed from the caller’s database if required. Most customers find that the volume of unsolicited sales and marketing calls falls away quickly.
3. Our agents will inform you by email or text as soon as they finish a call
Part of the flexibility of a 24/7 call answering service is giving you the level of control and oversight you are happy with. Some customers are happy leaving their work in the hands of the agents until the next day, and that’s completely fine. However, as soon as a call is terminated our agents will inform you by email or text, giving you the option to respond to urgent enquiries.
4. A virtual assistant can put a call through to you, or take a message
There is no obligation for call handling agents to solely take messages for all out of hours calls. If you’re expecting a priority call at any time of day or night, or at the weekend, you can request that the call is patched through directly to your number, so that the agent acts simply as a receptionist or gatekeeper. You can do this for all calls if you wish, or only those from specific phone numbers.
5. Our agents are all UK-based
To some degree, outsourcing has given call centres a bad name, but this doesn’t apply to the virtual assistant/call handling sector. It’s normally large service providers that fall foul of consumers by closing down UK call centres and transferring their business to emerging economies overseas where some call handlers do not have enough local knowledge to deal with every query. This isn’t a problem for us because all our agents are UK-based. They all speak English as their first language, they know where places are, and they have an intuitive grasp of how the UK economy works. Our team usually work from our call centre in Nottingham, but we are also fully set up for remote working when necessary.
6. Calls can be recorded for transparency
How do you know that a call handler is representing your brand in the way you would like them to do? Through call transcripts. Transparency is extremely important for a virtual call handling service, which is why most providers offer customers the option to have some or all of their calls recorded for review purposes. This lets customers give feedback on the way handlers answer key questions, core messaging, tone of voice, customer satisfaction and other metrics.
7. Agents can also respond to out of hours emails
Out of hours service and sales enquiries don’t always come through by phone. Many people prefer to use email, even for urgent enquiries, and still expect a rapid response. Some 24/7 call handling services, including ourselves, offer an optional inbox management service, in which email enquiries are handled alongside phone calls. Email templates can be set up in advance with a script that provides the agent with the information they need to represent your business, and email management can be put in place for any number of named individuals and email addresses within your company.
Your next steps
A 24/7 call answering service can bring surprising benefits to your business, as we touched on in this article. The great advantage of such a service is the ability to customise your call handling package to the precise needs of your business. For example, our call handlers can be set up to answer common questions about your service, saving your own team a lot of time repeating information.
At the moment, in particular, many of our customers are getting a lot of calls and voicemails from worried customers asking how their service is being affected by Covid 19, and if their business is still operating. Returning these messages and answering these routine calls is not time-neutral, and takes resources away from your primary role at an already stressful time.
So, even if you haven’t considered a 24 hour call answering service before, now might be the time to explore your options. It doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment, but you may find it gives your business a slight competitive edge over customers who don’t offer 24/7 service, and may make you more productive and more responsive.
To discuss your requirements and the type of package we can offer,
please call us today on 0800 822 3344.