If you’re a sole proprietor, your days are hectic. Marketing, accounting, sales, and administrative tasks fall squarely on your shoulders. While this gives you greater control over the operations of your business, it also requires plenty of time and careful attention. That leaves little time for answering calls, which are one of your leading sources for new business.
Trying to juggle phone calls with the rest of your daily tasks puts you in a position to deliver a less-than-stellar phone experience to your callers or worse, send them to voicemail. Sending customers to voicemail regularly is egregious in any capacity, but even worse if you use a personal phone for business matters—it’s just unprofessional.
We’ll go ahead and say it: Your business suffers every time you miss a phone call. Unless your business is well-known as the best in the area, callers who don’t reach you on the first try will call a competitor before they try calling you again. Can you blame them? Luckily, there are a few simple ways to make sure that never happens again.
Small businesses with limited resources need a powerful, but affordable communication system that works with their existing infrastructure to make sure every call is answered. A cloud-based phone system gives you all the powerful features your business needs to stay connected, even from your smartphone. When paired with a live answering service to help you answer every call, you’ll deliver a truly dynamic experience every time the phone rings.
Here, we’ll explain:
- Why you need a cloud-based business phone system?
- Why you need a live answering service to help take your calls;
- How combining a virtual phone system and an answering service gives you the ultimate competitive advantage.
A virtual phone system does more with less.
Virtual phone systems are nimble and affordable, but still packed with features that improve your phone experience, making you look and sound as polished and professional as possible.
A virtual phone systems essentially gives your personal devices all the functionality of a business phone system. This might sound complicated at first, but getting set up and running your system couldn’t be easier: Choose a phone number or port in your existing number. Download your system’s mobile app. Add your users, if you have them. Set a voicemail greeting (or don’t, systems often feature pre-recorded standard greetings), and you’re ready.
First and foremost, your business now has its own phone number. This can be local or toll-free, depending on the image you want to portray. This means you’ll never use your personal phone number for business purposes again, bringing you one step closer to the long-sought-after work-life balance.
Of course, there’s plenty of other features to round out the experience:
- Auto-attendants: your auto-attendant answers calls with your customized greeting, then presents callers with routing options so they reach the right person quickly and easily.
- Call Routing: Route calls to specific devices, users, or user groups. If you work on your own, this can mean routing to your personal phone, voicemail box, or answering service. If you work with a team, calls can be routed to specific users or user groups. Every phone in the group will ring at once, meaning everyone has a chance to answer the call.
- Analytics: Learn about your call history, analyze past performance, and identify trends with simple, yet detailed analytic reports.
An answering service captures every call.
While a cloud phone system makes it easier to connect with your team or clients while you’re away from the office, it still may not be possible for you to answer every call. A live answering service with 24/7 availability keeps your phone calls covered and offsets the calls from customers seeking basic information (business hours, return policy, pricing, etc).
We know what you might be thinking: You trudge through a conversation with an answering center every time those mysterious additional charges show up on your home internet bill. We’re willing to bet it’s not exactly the type of experience you want your business to deliver, and we couldn’t agree more. We’re referring to a new class of answering service, whose agents are all based in the U.S and trained to deliver quality service.
The best answering services do much more than take messages: expertly trained agents can process orders, manage appointments, act as a help desk, screen calls, collect lead information and more. This all happens based on your customized script, which helps agents sound exactly like a member of your team. And one more thing: the best answering services can integrate with any online systems you have in place, like a CRM or case-management software like Salesforce or Clio.
With both, you deliver a dynamic phone experience
The flexibility of a virtual phone system combined with the dependable support of a live answering service makes your phone experience tough to compete with, no matter how small your business might be. Here’s just a few examples of what’s possible with an answering service and a virtual phone system at your side:
A help desk for frequently asked questions: You can treat your answering service just as you would any other user in your company. If you find yourself spending too much time answering questions about policies, hours of operation, or other basic information, you can easily pass this off to your answering service, who can answer any questions quickly and professionally.
A safety net for overflow calls: In a period of unexpectedly high call volume, your answering service is always available. Calls can ring to you or your team’s phones first, then forward to the answering service after a few rings, ensuring you have a chance to answer, but you’re covered if you can’t. Alternatively, your answering service can take calls, then instantly deliver the message to your inbox. You’re always in control.
You don’t want your personal phone ringing with business calls at night: No problem, thanks to call scheduling via your virtual phone system. With just a few clicks, schedule calls to your phone during the day, then let the answering service handle calls after hours. You’ll get the evening off and no calls are left unanswered. For that matter, you can route calls to your answering service any time you’re busy or just don’t feel like taking a call, with the confidence that your company is represented by a confident, well-trained agent.
A virtual phone system and a 24/7 live answering service. Two tools that are powerful on their own, but when combined, will transform how your business uses the phone. Remember: the phone is often a customer’s first point of contact with your business, so act accordingly.