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To sustain a successful business on a long-term basis you need to have two basic ingredients

You must be good at providing your primary offerings to your clients

This one is obvious. It is the easier one because it is typically something you are passionate about and enjoy doing if you don’t enjoy the business then it’s not likely to succeed.

You must continuously work to improve your operations.

The second ingredient is not as easy because it has to do with ‘everything else’ needed to operate a business; such as the tools and technology, the human resources, compliance with the law and good management of working capital. Lack of this continual improvement of operations is what may sink a successful business or at least prevent it from reaching its full potential.

Focus on what you do best and outsource the rest

If you are a business owner or director, you likely will have multiple talents that have enabled you to get to this level. However, you should know the operational areas that are not your strength or that you have less interest in working on. These specific items, tasks or roles that you need to outsource – either internally or externally to a trusted partner with specific expertise in that area. By truly focusing on expanding your strengths and assigning out those other areas or tasks, you will be able to reduce or eliminate many of the barriers limiting the success of your organization.

Fixing Neglected Areas of Operations

We have learned over time that, for organizations both large and small, communications processes are one of the most neglected operational issues. Larger businesses have many departments, each with different priorities. In these environments, communications methods quickly evolve per department, creating a very inconsistent experience for clients across the board. Smaller organizations are often challenged here because they simply do not take the necessary time to define and map out a detailed communications plan on a periodic basis. In both cases, when issues do arise, the typical approach is to make a quick patch to fix the issue, instead of stepping back and looking at the process strategically to identify the root cause of the communications issue.

Ask a Better Question

When we talk to a new prospect for our telephone answering service, they are often looking for more information than just basic telephone answering services. We hear comments like “we are considering a new phone system” or “we keep updating our voice-menu options, but we’re still having issues” or even “we just need a provider that follows our instructions”. In other words, they know they have communications challenges, and they have some level of frustration because they are not sure how to go about fixing them.

Prior to asking about service offering bells and whistles, the right question business organizations should be asking themselves are “how do my prospects and clients really want to engage with us, now and in the near future?” The toughest part here is putting your personal preferences aside. Because there are so many options, the preferences of your prospects and clients may be any of the following: e-mail, live-chat, web-form, instant messaging, text message or even social media channels. However, given all these options, you can be sure that if they pick up the phone to call you, they want to talk to a live person, and not have to leave a voice-mail. This is where a telephone answering service can become a good partner in your communications process.

The Big Picture

Having the discipline to continually improve upon your organization’s operations is not easy to do; however all the successful companies I’ve engaged in my life have had that discipline. If you have an operational area where you’ve recognized a weakness, start with a basic question like the example above. This can help you get to the root cause of the weakness much quicker. And if that weakness is in the area of communications, you know who to call!


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Automated Telephone Answering Systems

For most of us, the customer service hell usually begins with a phone call being answered by an automated system called an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) — you know, the one where you have to listen to the 5 options you have to “Press 1 for this and Press 2 for that etc.”, I find these very frustrating. It turns out that I’m not the only one and many companies are realising that using what’s known as “live human beings” to answer the phone helps foster much greater customer service and loyalty.

It’s easy to understand why companies use automated phone systems as they are cheaper and more efficient than hiring more people to handle all the callers. But it’s also easy to understand why some companies don’t use such systems – customers hate them, and, generally speaking, it’s a bad idea to upset your customers. Consumer’s opinions on customer service can be determined simply by the fact that a helpful human has answered the phone.

Remember, Telephone-Answering do not make your customers go through automated calling systems – you get to speak straight away with someone.

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How Outsourcing has helped us with our other business

Last year we launched another business which happened by accident. Not really, but through networking we were offered another opportunity that we just could not pass up. We decided to outsource most of this business so we have the time to concentrate on Telephone-Answering.Biz

This new business runs on its own and is cloud based ( software is very easily accessed by schools and parents on any media device and helps schools organise their parent’s evenings and saves schools a lot of admin time. Of course we have well trained staff that can cope with answering the calls (that’s what we do) and software support for this business so very little work for us.

We use a specialist marketing agency to help us market the new software and all we do is capture the calls and of course sell and support the software. Even the invoicing is automated so we just have to track the payments. Isn’t this what we all strive for? Business that almost runs itself?

Easy you say but it’s because we have outsourced most of this business with great suppliers so it means we can concentrate on our core business and let the other business run itself. Isn’t this what we all dream of? Looking for the right agency took some time and of course had to change a few times because we were looking for a partner to work very closely with us so we could produce the sales we wanted. This is also how we work with all our Clients.

Obviously we are just a small part of the outsourcing world but essential for most businesses to capture every call and maximize the opportunities for sales and profit.

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Starting a Business? Skip the Plan

Not all entrepreneurs need a business plan. Most start-ups succeed because the founder had an authentic vision and clarity of purpose, not a well-written document. While not all planning is bad, the content that most business plans focus on has little to do with the reality that will actually emerge. Instead of agonizing over a document, focus on identifying exactly why your business should exist. Clearly articulate the bigger goal at hand, whether you call it vision, purpose, or calling. This will guide you and the business. And remember that the team is more important than any plan. It’s worth spending time making sure you are working and partnering with the right people.

Partnering with the right suppliers is a very important investment and must fit with your business plan.

Telephone Answering and messaging services should work like they are your team and behave like they are your partners if you are to achieve the growth you are expecting. This service is essential if you are starting a new business as you can then focus on growing and nurturing your business, the company you partner with should be as passionate about your business as you are and they should be interested in helping you grow your business.

Accountants should be proactive and be able to give great advice when you need to resolve an issue.

IT support is essential as all business must have communications and email as well as web presence.

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It’s not always about missing the call it’s about how it’s answered

Over the last two years we have been evaluating our business and looking at what makes us so different to other answering/call centre services. We have had the pleasure of visiting a call centre and looking at what they do compared to us and really we are poles apart in what we do.

Obviously we answer calls just like they do but that’s where the similarities stop. Yes we answer the call and capture the information. The way we do this is very different because our receptionists (Not Call handlers or operators as they would be called in a call centre) answer the call and will know who the call is for but will know a little about your business and also all your staff members as well as the departments they are in
In a call centre the call handler will have a call pop up on their computer screen which will tell them which company the call is for and also a script for how your call is answered . Their job is to answer quickly and really get you off the line as soon as possible so they can answer the next call. This is because call centres work on volume and really not always quality. They will only have limited options for whom to send the information to.

We on the other hand also answer the call but without formal scripts or time limits on taking the call because we would rather get as much information as possible. This sometimes has helped the companies we answer calls for actually gain more relevant and pertinent information. One example is when one of our receptionists answered a call and the person was a little forward and pushy about talking to the director, he came across as a hard-nosed sales person. We had a long conversation with the person and found out exactly what he wanted. It turns out he was actually the director of a well known national company and wanted 100s of his projects to have this particular product installed. Initially he was only talking about one project but when our receptionist asked the question he advised that it was really for hundreds of projects. Of course we transferred the call to the director informing him of the importance of the call. The sale was closed a few weeks later but turned out to be in the millions of pounds. So you see it’s not always about missing the call but more about how the call is answered.

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