Answering Service Case Study: Outsourcing Helps Entrepreneur Compete with Larger Firms

By Peter DeHaan

Exhausted, Jay returned to his office to discover his answering machine was blinking 14. Frustrated, Jay set his toolbox down with a thud and plopped into his chair. He grabbed a scrap of paper and hit “play.”

The air was filled with urgent calls from businesses with computer issues and network problems. Jay scribbled madly as he listened to each of the fourteen messages. Then, he left his desk to grab some coffee.

Jay was both pleased and overwhelmed. His new business, Link Technology Systems, was becoming busier every day. For Jay, it meant the long hours he had spent over the past year were beginning to pay off; he finally had enough business to make ends meet. However, Jay was a new entrepreneur who had sunk everything he had into his new business. He did everything from client consultations, to the bookkeeping, to cleaning the restroom.

Unfortunately he spent most of his day out of the office, with only his answering machine to greet prospective customers. Jay wanted callers to feel like they were reaching a larger, established company. But as things were, Link Technology sounded like a second-stringer.

Returning to his desk, Jay searched for his list of fourteen clients to call. He couldn’t find it. Frantically, he ruffled through pile after pile of the papers on his desk. Nothing. He searched the trash basket. Nothing. He checked his pockets. Empty.

Panicked, he walked around the office until he reached the coffee pot. There, in a pool of spilled coffee, was his note, with the ink now spread into illegible ribbons on the page. Fourteen potential clients. Fourteen prospects lost. He slumped back into his chair. Something had to change.

A few days later, Jay was running CAT-5 cable when he received a text message. Smiling, he glanced at the screen. One of his regular clients had another project for him, scheduled at 9 a.m. the following day. Then he returned to work.

Jay had outsourced his telephone, scheduling, and dispatching needs to a professional team at a nearby telephone answering service. They enabled him to sound just as professional as his larger competitors. His messages were instantly texted to his smartphone, and his appointments were entered into a scheduling package his answering service had set up just for him. Best of all, the cost of the answering service was a fraction of hiring a full-time receptionist with benefits.

Grinning as he tested the network connectors, Jay reflected on his decision. Things were indeed looking up.

Contact us at (800)244-4334 to learn how a telephone answering service can answer your calls 24/7 to better serve your customers.

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Answering Service Case Study: Telephone Answering Service Helps Art Gallery Grow

By Peter DeHaan

Gail Drevlow, owner of Ambling Fine Art Gallery, shuffled through a thick stack of customer information cards. The night before, her upscale gallery was filled with patrons eager to meet renowned artist, Catherine Carlson. The evening was a huge success. Several of Catherine’s original art-glass sculptures were sold along with some ceramics, oils, and pastels by lesser-known artists.

During the event, customers filled out information cards detailing their contact information and their gallery wish list. The cards also contained hints for contacting forgetful partners to remind them of important dates and make recommendations. The cards were a huge hit. Orders and customer information also streamed in through her gallery’s updated website.

After seven years of hard work, Gail welcomed the growth and success of her gallery. Unfortunately, it was growing beyond her ability to cope. Not only was Gail the gallery’s owner, she was also its manager, chief art curator, sales manager, and head design consultant. One of Gail’s most profitable services was on-site fine art consultations, taking her out of the gallery several hours each day.

Gail knew she couldn’t continue to schedule her own design consultations. She also knew she lacked the time and staff to enter the customer information obtained during the Carlson event and the website into a database, manage the contacts, and take care of her other responsibilities. It was all too much. Holding back tears, Gail walked into her small office and closed the door.

Later that day, Gail learned that her website orders and customer information could be handled by trained professionals at a most accommodating telephone answering service. Her customers’ wish lists could be updated and customers reminded of important dates and gift opportunities, all without her personal attention. The answering service could also answer her gallery’s telephone calls, freeing up several hours each week for her and her staff. Plus they could schedule her on-site consultations and email her with appointment information.

Each of Gail’s concerns was addressed and handled by one organization dedicated to serving professional clients like her. Best of all, the cost was well-below that of hiring someone to do this in-house.

By the end of the week, the Ambling Fine Art Gallery had turned over these important tasks to Gail’s new answering service. Gail started her weekend, having transformed from a harried, over-worked professional to a confident, successful entrepreneur.

Contact us now at 1-800-244-4334 to learn how a telephone answering service can answer your calls 24/7 to better serve your customers.

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Answering Service Case Study: Telephone Answering Service Helps Business Grow

By Peter DeHaan

Dennis Harris, owner of ACSI Business Machines faced a problem. His office machine business had a high number of calls at certain times of the day and during particular times of the year that he couldn’t keep up with. He was losing customers who couldn’t get through due to busy signals or whose calls they weren’t able to answer in time.

Additionally, Dennis knew many of his customers were entrepreneurs who often worked late and on weekends, sometimes needing a service tech outside of regular business hours. If he was to ensure his business maintained the high level of service it had become known for, he needed someone to answer calls and dispatch service technicians during their busy times, as well as after hours and on weekends.

An astute businessman, Dennis was painfully aware his growing business could not afford additional staff at this time. He analyzed several options and discovered that an answering service might be the ideal solution.

To his surprise, he discovered professional answering services offered much more than friendly operators to handle calls 24×7. He also learned answering services could answer his calls using his business name, screen calls according to his instructions, and dispatch service technicians per his protocols. They could also provide first-level customer support, freeing his in-house staff to handle situations that were more pressing.

Two years after hiring his answering service, Dennis has an even faster growing business, servicing 5,000 pieces of office automation equipment across three states. He still uses his answering service and credits them for his ability to grow so fast.

“Our telephone answering service has been a critical part of our business. We are able to have our customers talk to real people any time of the day or night. It makes us sound like one of the big guys, even though we are a smaller, newer company,” said Dennis.

“Our answering service has really helped us contain costs, and we’re not worrying about missed calls and lost customers. I would recommend this service to anyone!”

Contact us now at 1-800-244-4334 to learn how a telephone answering service can answer your calls 24/7 to better serve your customers.
Peter DeHaan is a freelance writer in Southwest Michigan.

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Maintaining Communication: The Key To Successful Client Relationships

At Global Messaging Network, we feel that connecting and communicating with our clients and business associates is very important to a successful relationship. It’s also good for our clients’ business because we are not just an off-site receptionist, call center or answering service – we are an extension of them, a part of their team.  By answering their calls, we reflect their company’s image.  Therefore, the more we know about our clients, the more we can communicate to their clients and prospects.  That’s why we believe that we need to maintain a two-way communication with our clients.

One avenue that will help us at Global Messaging to implement our goals of maintaining dialogue with our clients, is via our new monthly newsletter that we began mailing in January 2013.  In our effort to go paperless, contribute to reducing the company carbon footprint and preserving our environment, we do plan to email invoices and newsletters.

In each newsletter, our clients will find The President’s Letter, in which Edmond Cariolagian creates a personalized message that goes far beyond the business realm, and shares his business-savvy counsel and personal inspirational messages that he hopes will make an impact in all his client’s lives, both personally and professionally.

For example, in the first newsletter, Edmond encouraged businesspeople to take time out to savor their family or personal time, to build it into their schedules, to create memories and savor “down time” or relaxation.

In the second newsletter, February 2013, Edmond encouraged business owners to focus the beginning of the year or first quarter in strategic planning and marketing.

And, as we are an extension of our clients’ team, we play a role in marketing communications.  When our clients place an advertisement, conduct a publicity campaign, Internet marketing campaigns or offer their customers or prospects a special promotion, the Global Messaging Network team is there in support by answering the calls and capturing the sales leads that may turn into new clients, sales and hence, revenues.

The monthly newsletter also offers other interesting tidbits such as updates on new changes in technology, words of wisdom, inspirational health and wealth messages, reminders that enhance peoples’ lives in general, and inspirational quotes by world-renowned leaders and influencers.

The newsletter also highlights members of the Global Messaging Network team….helping clients put a face to the name behind the employee with whom they speak or email.  Here, our clients get to know the employee’s responsibilities within the company as well as a glimpse of that employee’s persona.

One of the most enlightening newsletter articles was about “bricking a cell phone”.  We at Global Messaging make it a point to educate our clients with the newest changes and laws in technology. Recently, the U.S. government has implemented a new policy to disable cell phones if they are lost or stolen, so that only the actual owner is able to use that phone.  This policy aids in the prevention of security and privacy breach.

If you or anyone you know would like to receive this wealth of information, please sign up for our monthly newsletter by emailing your name and mailing address to press@globalmessaging.net.

Thank you for reading. Until next time…

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Live Answering, why is it so important?

With all the technology we have now, 3D cell phones, texting, Skype video calls, video chat on your cell phone, voice mail, etc. One thing remains the same, if you do not answer when your client calls, you are losing money.

Clock by Africa

If your toilet overflows at 2:23 a.m., you will probably call information for a plumber or do a web search. A list of plumbers that says “24 hour service” will pop up. You dial the first one and you get a voice mail. The voice mail actually says “someone will call you back soon”. You have no idea what “soon” means, so you hang up and call the next plumber. For plumber number 2, a receptionist answers and tells you, yes, they can come out right now and yes they do service your area. The receptionist tells you that she will page the plumber on duty right now, and he should be there within the hour and he will call to confirm. You are relieved that help is on the way.

If you are a business owner and worried about your operating costs, please consider this:

Plumber number #1 has voice mail, which was probably very cheap, but he just lost $200 in revenue for the week. Plumber #2, pays $5- $10 per day and with this 2 a.m. service call, his answering service paid for itself for the month. One call, one job.

Are you forwarding your office calls to your cell phone? Do you really want to be called at all hours of the night? Plus answering half awake does not present a professional image for your company. What if you are at a nice dinner, or at the movies? You just lost that client because you could not answer.

The same concept goes for Attorneys, Doctors, emergency restoration companies, and the list is endless. The old addage is true: You get what you pay for.  If you try to save money by using your voice mail, and your type of business requires this type of quick response, you will lose more money than what you are saving. You may not even be aware of how many people are hanging up. If you try to answer yourself, you will be stressed out and always on alert. Any Attorney or plumber, who answers his own phone after hours, does not present a very professional image.

Receptionist by Ambro

The answering service itself: There are hundreds of answering services across the country, many of them good, many of them bad, many of them cheap and many of them expensive. The really cheap ones save money by either outsourcing the calls to another country (and we all know what those calls are like), or by understaffing their call centers, which leads to long hold times and hang ups. The more expensive ones usually have more staff on hand and give a much better service. They trick is to find a good answering service that is well priced for your needs. Many people have the notion that answering services cost about $50 per month. A lot of them do, but what do you get for that money, probably not much and your calls being answered in another country. Consider that for around less than the cost of paying someone for one hour of work, a good answering service has you covered all day. Think $200 or $300 a month is too much? Plumber number 1 thinks so as well, so he pays nothing for his voice mail. Plumber number number 2 gladly pays $200 per month for service which helps him make more money and which he covers on one service call. We at Global Messaging provide superior live answering for our clients. Many of our clients came to us from other answering services that were dirt-cheap and the clients were still losing money because of the poor service. You get what you pay for. Not all answering services are the same.

So next time you receive a text message from your “receptionist” saying “New Client”, or a call from your recptionist connecting you to a new client, you will know that your investment in your answering service is not only paying for itself, but it is helping you make more money.

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Social Media, is your Company taking full advantage?

Everyone knows that Social Media rules the internet.  Facebook is leading the way,  Twitter, LinkedIn just went public, Yelp…etc. But, have you thought about how all these can help your company? Or if people will eventually get tired of the whole “Social Media” thing, and will go back to pre-social media internet? Nothing is for certain, but the sheer number of people who have Facebook accounts is staggering.  As of this writing: Over 500 million users on Facebook, over 70 billion minutes per month spent on Facebook by its users.  (source Facebook Statistics:http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics)

Social Networking by jscreationzs

The average Facebook user is connected to 80 community pages. Is one of them your page? 10,000 new web sites integrate with Facebook everyday. If your business is not yet involved in Social Media, you are missing a huge opportunity.  The Gourmet food trucks that are all the rage in Los Angeles, for example, send out Tweets as to where they are going to be, and also send out Tweets with discounts for their followers. Why follow a celebrity? We will leave that up to your preference. Why follow a business such a food truck? Because they will give you discounts and tell you where they are going to be.

Some companies are using Social Media in very clever ways such as asking their fans to post a comment about their company on the fan’s own “wall”, and then “tagging” that business. Once the business has been tagged, they are notified, and they can select the fan who will receive a prize for tagging them and therefore, promoting them on user’s own wall. It gets the business’ name out there for a minimal cost. The effects of this cross advertising platform have not been measured, but any avid Facebook user has probably found out about many new businesses in their area from seeing them in Facebook postings.

Like Button by Master Isolated Images

We at Global Messaging do a bi-weekly raffle for all our Facebook fans and we give away movie passes or Lunch Platters delivered to the office of the raffle winner. That is our way of saying “Thank you for being our fan”. This gives people an incentive to click “Like”. As a result, anytime we post something, it appears on their wall.

LinkedIn is great for building business connections and it keeps growing daily. It just went public and many people who are not Facebook users are in LinkedIn because they find it useful and not a huge waste of time, as many view Facebook and Twitter. We believe LinkedIn will keep growing and you may have already been asked to join someone’s network, even if you do not have an account with LinkedIn.

Finally there is Yelp. This may be the truest form of freedom of expression and power to the people of the internet. If you are running a business and have not yet looked up your company on Yelp, you may want to do that right away. Yelp is the place where consumers become “critics” and if they love your business, they will say it and if they hate it, they will say it as well. If you see a business with many bad reviews on yelp, you may want to stay away. This is people helping people and  all this information is free and at your finger tips. If your company is not yet or not very involved in Social Media, you may want to consider it. The costs are very  low, and the returns if your strategy is done correctly, can be amazing. If you are a movie fan, we encourage you to visit our Facebook page and become a fan. You may just win movie passes. Winners are announced every 2 weeks and we do make several postings announcing the winners. We look forward to seeing your Facebook page and perhaps some clever Twitter Marketing.

 

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Get the most of out of your answering service

Everyone knows that answering services are great for answering their clients’ calls when they are not in the office, but there are many other services an answering service can offer.

Depending on your line of work and your business needs, you may have multiple people on call. Did you know you can send the on-call schedule to your answering service and they will take care of it for you? When a new person is on-call, and a phone call comes in to them, the receptionist will have those instructions on their screen and they will contact the on-call person according to the instructions.

Is the on-call person not answering? Not a problem if you set up a “Cascade” list. If the on-call person does not answer, then receptionist will call the second person on the list. The messages can be set up to be sent to one, a few, or all the people on-call, so that everyone has a copy of the message.

Do you have multiple departments? No problem, the receptionist can ask who the call is for, then the message can be texted or emailed to everyone in that department, or the the manager of that department. The manager can then forward it to the person they would like to handle the call.

Do you only want to take some type of calls after hours and not all? Did you know you can set up different questions that the answering service can ask to determine what type of call it is and then if the call qualifies, it can be connected to you. For example if you are an attorney, you may not want to take calls after 10pm, only emergency calls. The answering service can ask “is this an emergency?” (The caller may have just been in an accident, or detained), at that point the receptionist can connect the call to the attorney and both the attorney and client benefit from the call being properly processed.

Does your company offer any literature, or a booklet on your ads? This type of call does not have to be transferred to anyone. If so, you can have the answer service ask “Are you calling about the free information booklet?”, then the information can be taken from the caller and be sent to you under the “Free Booklet” heading so that your staff can quickly process the information to be sent to the caller.

Does your company offer a special of some kind? For example, a drain cleaning special for a certain amount, if you’re a plumber? Well, your answering service can have that information, and as long as it’s simple, it can help the caller in deciding. If the caller asks for example “What do you charge for a drain cleaning?” The receptionists call tell them about the special and  another client lead is captured for you by your answering service by simply offering one piece of information to the caller.

The job of the answering service is two fold. It is to answer your calls when you are not in your office  and it is also to help you capture those calls and help you turn then into potential clients. We at Global Messaging know that when we answer a call for our clients, we are representing them and their business.  We try to help our clients as much as possible because we understand that every little bit helps when it comes to capturing new leads and new business.

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Mailers, do they work? read on.

Ever open your mail box full of junk mail and wonder why these same companies keep mailing you these? The answer has 2 parts. Part 1, is the success ratio: A return of 1% on mass mailings is considered good. Part 2, is brand recognition: Since you noticed it is the same companies that keep sending you these mailers, you are noticing who they are whether you realize it or not.

image by Digitalart

Most people take a quick glance at these mailers before throwing them away. The companies who send these out are hoping to either get you to use their coupon or remember their name. According to some marketing experts, the magic number is 7. It takes 7 times for a person to see your company name and or logo, before they remember it. If you get the “$5 off an oil change” coupon right before your oil change is due, you will probably remember it and keep that one. Score one for the oil change place mailers.

If you are considering sending out mailers for your company, here are some things to keep in mind: Coupons work best, as most people need an incentive to get them over to your business. Mailers for businesses are targeted and therefore if done correctly, can yield a higher return than  the average mailer you get at home. The reality is that mailers work, if they did not, your mail box would only have bills in it and the post office would lose a huge source of revenue. We at Global Messaging use and send targeted mailers to business clients which we can benefit by making their business more efficient at a very low cost.  Many of our clients who have answered to a mailer have told us they had seen our mailers before. Just like with the oil change flyer, if your mailer reaches your potential client at the right time, they will respond to it.

When sending targeted mailers, keep them simple and colorful. Offer a discount, a promotion or a coupon if possible. If your return on your mailers is very low, you may not be asking yourself the right question that needs to be answered in the mailer. “Why do customers buy my product?” Do you save them time, or money, or help them in any way? Offer the BENEFITS of your product, rather than just the product. Lastly, offer a call to action. Promotion lasts until…(and give date). Offer good through …,  this should help the undecided get a little motivation. Good luck with your mailers and remember that the magic number is 7. Keep sending them out and keep seeing your business grow.

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Email Marketing vs. Spam. Is it the same thing? Read on:

 

email concept by Renjith Krishnan

You open your inbox and you have another unwanted email from a “Dave” regarding an amazing new drug. You click delete or send it to your spam folder. The next email is from one of your favorite restaurants offering you free appetizers. You open it and hit print and know where you’re going for dinner. This is one that you signed up for, to receive free coupons and you are happy to receive that email.

 

While the effectiveness of email marketing cannot be denied, the way it is done makes all the difference. It must be mentioned that there is a large number of people replying to those unwanted emails about an amazing new drug, or the one telling you that you won a new PC, or else all this “Spam” would not be so popular. For the purposes of this article we are going to focus on email marketing, and how it helps you stay connected with your clients and your target audience.

Constant Contact and similar services offer a great way to let you stay connected with your clients and help you get new clients without the spam factor. You can announce promotions, invite people to company sponsored events and offer discount coupons.

This type of email marketing, if used correctly, can be a very effective tool in increasing sales, which is after all, the bottom line. Another effective technique in email marketing is to join forces with another company for promotions. Then offer coupons or discounts to your clients for your partner company, and have your partner company return the favor. This way your company is introduced to new prospective clients in a friendly, more welcoming manner. Living Social, for example offers discounts daily for different companies on a sign up only basis.

 

couple with laptop by Ambro

Now, most social groups, youth sports teams, clubs and assorted groups are using email to keep their members updated on upcoming events, team schedules, last minute changes, email news letters, etc. We at Global Messaging use it, but we always make sure to offer an “opt out” option, that lets the clients opt out in just one click.  No questions asked. This makes opting out, simple and hassle free. Another great use email marketing is Online Surveys. You can ask your clients for their input and in exchange for their time and valuable feedback, offer something in return, no matter what the feedback is. Again, this is another way to know that your recipients are reading your emails.

 

As long as you are not flooding your clients’ inbox, daily with new information and promotions, your well crafted emails, should be welcomed. Be sure to always offer the option to “Opt Out” and make it easy to do so. For any input on our blog postings, please give us your feedback, we would love to hear from you.

 

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Need to forward your office calls? Which option is best for you?

In today’s competitive business environment, staying in touch with your clients is key. Potential clients can call your office at any time and if no one answers that call, the caller will most likely hang up and call one of your competitors. Most businesses forward their calls at times to be able to service their clients’ needs. While there are many options available for call forwarding, here are the 3 most popular options.

Standard Call Forwarding:  Standard call forwarding consists of re-directing your calls to another phone number. When most businesses close for the evening, they forward their calls to an answering service that handles their calls as they come in. To activate standard call forwarding, simply dial *72 or 72# (depending on your phone provider) and enter 1 and the ten digit number you are forwarding to. You must wait for a confirmation take place in order for call forwarding to take place. To un-forward your calls, press *73 or 73#. If your company has a phone system or V.O.I.P. phones, you may be able to set your call forwarding from a menu on your system. Always check with your phone provider for instructions and any possible charges if any.

Delayed Call Forwarding: This option works best for busy companies with multiple people handling the phones, so no one has to remember to forward the phones at night. This is an “always on” feature. If someone calls your office and no one answers after a certain number of rings (the delay), then the call gets forwarded to another number, like an answering service. If you choose to use this option for your company, select the number of rings carefully. We recommend 3 – 4 rings maximum.  Example: If a client calls your office and the phone rings there 3 times, then the call gets forwarded to the answering service, and it rings there 2 times, (which is a good response time), then the caller hears a total of 5 rings.  Keep in mind that most of the time, an answering service like Global Messaging will answer in 3 rings or less, but that cannot be guaranteed due to unpredictable call volume at times.

Busy Call Forwarding: This option works best for companies that may, at times, get more calls than they can handle. This also works great for companies that are running a big promotion and are receiving a lot of calls. If all your lines are busy, the next call that comes in gets forwarded, usually to an answering service that will seamlessly handle the call. The message will be delivered to the intended person and the calls will not be lost due to the phone lines being busy.

We at Global Messaging consult with each of our clients to determine which option is best for them. Our goal is to handle the calls for our clients in a seamless manner, to help them capture more business and give them a competitive edge. Whether it’s just forwarding your calls while your receptionist is out to lunch, during a company meeting, or in the evening hours, call forwarding is a great way to stay in touch with your clients.

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