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All posts by Jet

Employing a professional telephone answering?

A few months ago I was having a conversation with a friend of mine at our usual monthly meet up down at our local pub, I was struck by how little time he had to spare, a professional man, a self-employed business consultant no less, who spends his time visiting other businesses advising them on time management amongst other business related issues.

Now as he sat opposite me bemoaning the fact that he had no time to himself and was definitely much too busy to come to the pub more often and spend a pleasant couple of hours chatting to friends, it occurred to me that here was a person who really needed to take on board some of his own advice.

I asked him why he didn’t have a secretary to help organise his time to help take some of the load off him? His reply was that it was too expensive to employ someone, if he did employ a member of staff, all the employer / employee rules would come into being and as he was trying to maintain his own business costs low, this was a road he really didn’t want to go down.

It was at this point that I mentioned that he could have all of the benefits of a Personal assistant without any of the minefield that it has become to be a direct employer if he was to employ a professional telephone answering and virtual PA service. Imagine, I told him, a friendly professional voice on the end of the phone picking up to all of his client’s calls, no more distant, difficult, hands free calls whilst driving from one appointment to the next, the nightmare time waste of having to pull over and try and get an appointment set down in his diary.

All this and more organised for him in a professional and precise way, his diary booked up for him, in fact every aspect of his job, the bits which are not actually stopping him from doing his job but which are no less important, done !

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First impressions count!

First impressions count!

We all know that when we meet a new person it takes something like 3 seconds for them to form their first impression of you, so we all do our best to look good, put ourselves over well and so on.
You would never turn up at a meeting wearing dirty shoes, a creased shirt, hair unbrushed would you?
No of course not!

So why on earth is it that you expect your clients to have a sometimes second rate experience when they are calling you to enquire about your services?

Crazy as it seems, lots of businesses, from small one man bands right up to big nationals have a telephone answering system that leaves much to be desired and In fact can be downright frustrating for the very people you need to impress.

There is no surer way to lose hard earned customers than giving them a rubbish experience at the first point of contact with your business.

The answer of course is to outsource your telephone answering to us here at telephone-answering.biz where our professional call handlers take the call as YOUR reception , they will capture all the information you need right at that point of contact and reassure your client that they are valuable and will get a call back as soon as possible.

In short you never miss a call, you never lose a sale and most importantly those first impressions are absolutely perfect as far as you client is concerned.

You look great, your business looks great. Happy, confident customers! It’s a no brainer.
Telephone-answering.biz is the company to make your company succeed.

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How to prevent your staff from stealing your client’s

 

We all spend years building a loyal client base and we try to recruit talented staff but then you could lose half of your client base overnight if your staff leaves your business and secretly, without you knowing, they take your client details with them.

We (telephone-answering.biz) were a part of a franchise. The franchisors had cash flow problems and tried to sell our business and the rest of the franchisees offices secretly. This is because they had access to all our clients’ data. The reality was that when they tried this all our clients decided to stay with our new business name and not move to another service which was inferior to our service. They even offered my clients a free telephone answering service for a year free and this still couldn’t persuade my clients to move.

This happens a lot and sadly most business owners don’t realise it is happening until it is too late. This is, of course, totally understandable as you have to trust your team and you have to have the courage to let your team exercise their own values and discretion.

There are, however, measures you can take to reduce the likelihood of your staff taking clients with them whilst still making them feel appreciated and trusted.

  1. Build a Brand, not just a great team of individuals

 

First things first. Ask yourself why your clients are with you over the competition. If your answer is ‘Because they love the team’, then there is work to be done. Of course they have to love your staff, but they have to love them in the context of your brand and in the context of you as the business owner.

What I mean by this is that your clients have to believe that the business and their experience is great because you as the owner have created that. Then, if a member of staff leaves, they know you will still provide an amazing experience because of the standards YOU set.

You do this by building relationships (that’s why it is important to keep gathering and updating your customer’s details) and any communication should include you as the business owner as this lets them know that you are in charge and also lets them know how much you care about providing an amazing experience.

Get customer feedback is important as it helps you improve your business and can highlight problems that you had not realized.

You should also analyse the best performers in your business to understand and share what they do and get them to tell you all how they deliver great customer service. This makes them feel important AND it alleviates the reliance on one superstar to attract clients. If you are using them as a standard to build a culture, then every new employee theoretically can reach this standard.

  1. Recruit Carefully and take up References

 

Obviously you want to hire talented people, but they must be loyal. By not following up on references but even more commonly, following up in the wrong way.

Most companies ask for a minimum of two references and will call the referee who may feel obligated to just give you a standard reference. Some companies ask that the candidate’s referee phone in on their behalf. This way if a previous salon owner thought they were OK in terms of talent they should be happy to phone in, or if the candidate’s previous employer had a bad experience with them, they won’t lift up the phone on their behalf and this may help weed out anyone who has previously stolen and used client details.

  1. Locking Down on Info

 

Your client details are your business’s property and you have an obligation to keep these safe and secure and to have levels of security as to what information can be seen by whom. It’s not about trust, it is about best practice.

 

  1. Tip Build Your Personal Brand Too

 

In the first point we touched on this, about building your personal brand increases influence, respect in the industry and helps you attract talent.

Some people feel uncomfortable jumping in front of a camera, speaking publicly or getting themselves out there. For some, this may feel egocentric or even like self-obsession.

If you can overcome that thought process, what it does do is it builds your reputation and the reputation of your business. If your business is seen as somewhere to providing an amazing experience and has a great name, your employees need you to back them to make their career. Trust is based on respect yes, but if they feel they have nothing to really lose by taking your client details with them, they are more likely to do that.

If they feel you have the industry’s ear and are a respected name, employees will want your backing both in their role with you and the future.

Conclusion

So, none of these points can completely prevent people taking clients or completely protect your business’s client details. But, they are preventative measures. If you hire right, give fantastic service, build relationships with your clients as the owner and take care in storing info and granting access, then you are doing everything in your power to be in full control of your business.

Thanks for reading

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3 Ways to scale your business

1. Invest in process management

As a small business owner you probably have direct lines of communication to all of your employees. But as your business develops you must turn your attention to strategic questions and leave the day-to-day operations of your business to others.

According to Andrew Laurillard, founder of the Giggling Squid chain of ‘Thai tapas’ restaurants, understanding the value of company processes was vital to its growth. The business founded in 2008 and today has 12 restaurants across England with five further openings planned.

“As the company grows and the directors spend less time at the sharp end, it’s essential to invest in information reporting and process management, to know what’s going on,” says Laurillard, who employs 300 staff at the Giggling Squid. The business grew profits 123% and sales 93% last year alone.

“Processes, once a dirty word, are now essential for keeping control of quality. The trick is to retain the same small company culture as processes step into the role that regular direct contact with the owners used to do.”

2. Outsource as much as you can

Transaction software business First Data Merchant Solutions recently commissioned YouGov to find out the biggest struggles facing small and mid-sized businesses in 2014. It discovered that daily administrative tasks were taking up too much of their time, at the expense of activities that encourage growth strategically.

The survey found that nearly seven in 10 business owners described running their operations as “a constant challenge” and a quarter admitted they spent less than an hour each day on “proactive business growth.

If this describes your business, then look at outsourcing simple tasks to free up your own time to work on more valuable things. The internet, and most recently the Cloud, has given rise to a multitude of cheap services run by third parties in accounting, marketing and PR, customer relationship management, telephone answering services and plenty more besides.

3. Stay agile

Related to the last point is the need for growing businesses to stay agile. Being stripped-down and streamlined means you can react quickly to new opportunities as they present themselves. This is the chief advantage of being a very small business; so it’s important not to throw away this natural benefit as you grow.

“Start-up businesses are of a size which is advantageous. Consider whether your business set up gives you the most flexibility to take advantage of new opportunities,” advises John Styring, CEO of IglooBooks, which founded in 2003 and now employs more than 100 staff with a turnover of £23m.

“It is the leanest, most adaptable companies that come out the other side as success stories. Business owners can increase their chances of getting there by streamlining their firm and adapting to the needs of the market.”

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We have just been nominated as finalists for the FSB Bedfordshire Business Awards for great customer service.

 

Having been answering telephone calls for over 8 years we had never entered for any awards but this year we thought we should.

After all we always get complimented how well our staff answer the calls for all the businesses we answer telephone calls, so why not shout about it.

There are many companies who do telephone answering but I wonder how many actually do what they say and how many don’t charge for those little extras that we do free of any cost to our clients

Like when they call in to advise us of their movements or when we take a call that’s urgent and we then try to locate you and transfer the call anyway because we know it’s urgent or how about letting you know your child is ill and you need to go to the school immediately. Well that’s what we do for all our clients large or small everyone gets the same high standards because we care.

Anyway enough about us shouting at how much we care about answering your business telephone calls just look at the testimonial on our client’s page.

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