We live in a very different world than the one businesses operated in 20 years ago. Technology has changed by leaps and bounds. It has literally transformed how we live, work, play—and connect with our customers.
And while the internet has opened up many different avenues of connection, the good old telephone is still a primary means of communication between customers and companies. And this is why you need a good after-hours answering service. In fact, as reported by EasyBee:
- 80% of business is still conducted over the phone.
- 80% of callers prefer to talk on the phone than communicate via email.
- 71% of clients will stop dealing with a business that has poor phone etiquette.
- 69% of customers will not do business with a company that does not have good phone skills.
- 60% of customers expect more from customer service than they did just one year ago.
Since so much business is conducted over the phone, the need for an answering service has not diminished. So, if you have been thinking your business can do without and after-hours answering service, you might want to reconsider. Here are five reasons why setting up an after-hours answering service will help step up your company’s game.
1) Customer Satisfaction
The internet and mobile technology have changed the face of customer service. People are connected 24/7 and they expect the companies they deal with to do the same. Even though social media abounds, customers still want to be able to make a phone call and—more than ever before—talk to a real person. They expect someone to be available to take their call and help them with their situation regardless of the time of day.
Not only that, but everyone has access to a phone, making it the most accessible form of communication. Consider a comScore report that indicates 11.2% of mobile users have an iPhone. That means a customer service app for iPhone will leave out 88.8% of your customers. Yes, you could develop an app for every mobile platform, but in the end, the only form of communication with 100% reach is the telephone.
Not providing this level of service is detrimental to any business. The internet makes it possible for customers to conduct research and check out the competition quickly and easily. For this reason, customers are better informed than ever before. If they are not satisfied with the service they get, they will take their business elsewhere. Ensuring your customers can connect with your business after hours if they need help with something isn’t just good customer service—it might mean the difference between the life and death of your business.
2) Global Reach
In the past, your customers always lived within your city. They might have even lived down the street from your business location. They could walk through your doors almost as easily as they could call you. They were close by and in the same time zone. But these days, the internet has allowed businesses to cast a very wide net—and that means that customers can be spread across a country or around the globe. For this reason, business hours are no longer strictly 9-5 and an after-hours answering service makes sense.
Remember, if you have a business based in New York and you have customers in Los Angeles, your after-hours begins during their 9-5. And if you are in North America and have customers in Europe? Well, you get the picture. When your global customers can call in at any time and get quality help from someone on the other end of the line, they will be happy customers. And happy customers mean strong business.
3) Solid Reputation
With a high-quality after-hours answering service, your business will gain a good reputation for quality customer care. Customers are online all the time, talking about their experiences on social media. If their experience with your answering service is good, not only will they be a return customer—they will tell others about you.
There are also many review sites that rate businesses based on the various aspects of their products and services. When you are well-known for your high level of customer service, these sites will notice and their reviews will provide you with an even bigger boost. When customers visit these review sites and see that your customer service rates high compared to others, they will be more inclined to bring their business to you.
4) Reduced Operating Costs
Outsourcing is a good way to reduce operating costs. Particularly since call centers are expensive to operate. Mashable reports that it costs $1 per minute for every phone call that comes into a traditional call center. That means it costs $10,000 for 1,000 10-minute phone calls. But when you can outsource your call answering service, you do not need to:
- Hire and train additional staff
- Purchase the required equipment
- Lease the space required for a call center
- Pay additional expenses involved with running a call center
This gives your company quality customer service at a fraction of the cost were you to maintain a call center on your own.
5) Increased Sales
Customer experience goes well beyond the sale. Customers will have questions and problems once they purchase a product or service and a good company will be there to answer them. When these customers are happy with the service they receive, they will come back for more. And this can only increase sales.
This also applies to a service that is based on appointments. When there is an after-hours answering service, clients can call in at any time to make changes to their scheduled appointment or to schedule a new appointment. You can also easily communicate changes in your business’ schedule with your clients. The lines of communication remain open and smooth, and by calling, rather than emailing, you will increase customer engagement.
Make It Live
At this point it is important to point out that a live call answering service is superior in every way. In fact, a Harris Interactive report revealed that 75% of customers think it takes too long to reach a live customer service agent. Chances are you have felt this yourself, when on the customer end of the line.
The solution is two-fold. Ensure you have live agents who can take your customer calls after hours and use an answering service that has a call-back feature. This lets customers get in the queue without having to stay on the line when they have better things to do with their time. This will improve the overall satisfaction of the customer and help you grow your business.
The customer service experience should be seamless from the initial contact through far after the sale has been made. In fact, you want that sale to be the very beginning of your relationship with the customer. Remember, they might initially have chosen to do business with you because of your products and your prices—but customers choose to continue to do business with you because of the service they receive.
People want to be treated well, they want help when they need it, and they never want to wait for that help. By outsourcing to an after-hours answering service, you will be ensuring your customers can reach you any time from anywhere in the world and still receive the same level of service as if they lived down the street. And in this fast-paced world, customers value that more than ever before.
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