With the availability of sophisticated voicemail and automated phone systems, it might seem like a people-powered answering service is an archaic and unnecessary part of customer service and communication processes. After using voicemail alone for a while, though, many businesses are turning back to answering services. Here’s why.
Today’s customers expect 24/7 service and access to information, thanks in part to the constant connectively afforded by mobile devices and the Internet. Organizations that don’t staff round the clock may find that they miss calls from customers during evening hours, and consumers can be frustrated when they attempt to contact a business only to get an automated message or voicemail. Answering service staff often do more than take messages—they can help provide 24-hour service by providing callers with some basic information or letting them know when someone will return their call.
When calls are answered, companies can make sales, set up service calls, or provide other value to the consumer. Without an answering service, you rely solely on the consumer’s willingness to leave a voicemail, which doesn’t always happen. In fact, according to a report from Forbes, approximately 80 percent of callers who end up with voicemail hang up without leaving a message.
It may seem like a small advantage, but one HVAC company turned it into more than $5 million in additional revenue over a few years. The owner of the company noted that when people call a service company such as a plumbing or HVAC business, something is usually broken or in need of immediate attention. If the phone call isn’t answered or goes to voicemail, the consumer is likely to call the next company in line. The HVAC business set up calls to go to an answering service after hours, but they also let calls to go to the service during business hours if the phone rang more than three times. Unlike voicemail systems, a people-powered answering service can contact technicians after hours or perform basic tasks such as entering appointments into a computer system.
Even for the 20 percent of callers that leave a message on voicemail, communication is still a sketchy business. A report from the New York Times indicates that close to a third of voice messages aren’t listened to for at least three days, and some people never check their messages at all. Small business owners who use mobile phones as a primary means of communication may be overwhelmed with voicemails, and larger companies often have no good way to track whether employees respond to messages in a timely manner.
Answering service messages can be documented and tracked, making it easier for supervisors to delegate messages and follow up to ensure customer service issues are handled. Some answering services provide rankings or other notes on messages, making it easier for small business owners to prioritize how they handle messages each day.
Overall, the reason more businesses are turning to answering services is that a people-powered, outsourced answering service provides more value and ROI to both the customer and the company than automation and voicemail can.