As a business owner, growth can be thrilling and nerve-racking – all at the same time. Business expansion represents a legitimate progression of your success, but it also uncovers logistical barriers associated with scaling business operations.
One major challenge with business expansion is handling the increase in communications. Generally, it comes in the form of incoming calls, emails, social media, business outreach, and continuous customer interaction.
At a certain point, the amount of time spent managing customer relationships, vendors and leads becomes overwhelming. If you don’t have the right systems, processes and tools in place it can cost valuable time; time needed to devote to important business areas.
Scale business communications
Given that the cost of hiring a new employee is often high and unsustainable, answering services are an affordable and scaled solution. Professional answering services provide a multitude of business benefits.
Aside from simply saving time, answering services can scale a company’s entire communications capacity, from outreach to customer engagement and social monitoring. Ultimately, it eases the process of business growth.
Answering service options
Businesses large and small use telephone answering services to answer incoming calls, answer basic customer questions, forward messages, send and receive emails, faxes and more.
Answering services come in many shapes and sizes, but the three most common forms are:
automated answering services,
live virtual receptionists,
and internet platform services.
Automated answering services
Automated answering services are the basic, and most familiar, form of answering services. These services include auto attendants and traditional voicemail systems. They can receive incoming calls, record and store voicemail, or carry out simple business outreach (e.g., appointment reminders, balance updates, etc).
Live virtual receptionists
Live virtual receptionists (and internet platform answering services) are newer forms of answering services. They are much better equipped to provide assistance on a digital scale. Live virtual receptionists, as opposed to automated attendants, intuitively interact with incoming callers and can more accurately direct to a callers desired location.
Internet answering services
Internet answering services, on the other hand, are designed to manage digital communications. This includes automated email responses, live web chat, and social media monitoring services.
Each of these types of answering services have their own distinct advantages, and their use is obviously case-dependent. However, all accomplish a similar same central goal: to shift the burden away from manual communications to a more organized and scalable business operation.
Are answering services worth it?
Perhaps the greatest advantage of answering services is productivity derived from time saved in lieu of manually handling communications. One reason why answering services provide such value is due to their flexible business structure.
Most professional answering services are priced month-to-month or minutes-based. This pricing structure provides small businesses the freedom to experiment with an answering service without dedicating substantial time or resources.
Obviously, using an answering service has its concerns, the first and foremost is cost. While most won’t break the bank, it’s more expensive to pay for a service to handle your business communications than doing it yourself. So be sure an auxiliary service is worth it.
A second concern associated with answering services is something we have all experienced firsthand. Almost everyone has been sent through the ringer by some automated service when all you want to do is talk to a real human being. Regardless of whether the line is extraordinarily busy or there is a technical glitch, the experience can be infuriating. This can easily produce a negative association with your business.
Ultimately, given the value and saved human resources they provide, answering services should be considered as a business productivity and expansion tool. Although there are concerns, as with every business investment, answering services are a tool that can ultimately scale your business operations.
Eleonora Israele is a senior analyst at Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews site. She is responsible for research on web design and business process outsourcing. Connect with @eleonoraisraele on Twitter.