Small businesses and start-ups face many challenges, especially as they grow. It can be difficult to prioritize which areas of your business to spend money, and in which areas to focus on savings. Large organizations have the luxury of hiring new personnel on a whim, but smaller companies must be more strategic.
There comes a time in the life cycle of a small business where inbound call traffic becomes too overwhelming for the existing staff to handle. Employees want to focus on their jobs, they don’t necessarily want to be tasked with answering and transferring telephone calls. But hiring a receptionist to manage this traffic isn’t always in the budget. In larger organizations, receptionists often have enough front-desk work to justify the full-time position. At smaller organizations; however, there may not be enough for a receptionist to do other than answer the phone; an expense that can’t always be justified.
So what is a growing business to do? How can you manage inbound call traffic without spending the money for a new, full-time employee?
What is Virtual Phone Answering?
Small businesses have several options when it comes to virtual phone answering. But one of the most cost-effective ways to manage inbound calls is through a virtual phone system. These systems use the power of the internet to deliver telephone calls and advanced calling features to customers, without the need for bulky and expensive hardware.
One of those advanced features is an automated attendant. When customers dial your number, the call is answered immediately. You can record a cheerful greeting, and then direct callers to take the next step required to connect their call to an employee. This can be done through touch tone inputs or even voice commands. Callers who know their party’s extension can bypass the menu and connect their call immediately. Others are given a list of options or extensions to choose from. They choose the best option, and their call is sent directly to the appropriate desktop phone.
Virtual Phone Answering – Your Internal Traffic Cop
While some customers may just push “0” to default to the main line, virtual phone answering systems help ease the congestion that comes with a general phone free-for-all. Each employee can be assigned an extension. As customer and vendors become more familiar with your new answering system, they will bypass it and dial the precise extension they need when they call. This eases the stress on the main telephone line, and helps eliminate the all-hands-on-deck approach to answering and transferring calls.
Other Benefits of Virtual Phone Answering Systems
Virtual phone systems provide other features and benefits outside of acting as a virtual receptionist. Internet telephony is extremely flexible, and companies can customize their services so that their communications systems meets their unique needs.
Call Forwarding – Employees can route calls to mobile phones on the go
Voice-to-text – Individuals can have their voicemail sent to their email inbox as a recording or as a text-based communication.
Fax-to-email – Faxes can be delivered over internet telephone lines to email inboxes, eliminating the need for a physical fax machine.
Web Conferencing – Employees in separate locations can collaborate online via web conference.
Call tracking and reporting– Critical data regarding inbound and outbound calls can be collected and analyzed to assist in strategic planning.
At a certain point in the lifecycle of a small business it may be necessary to recruit and hire a receptionist to help manage inbound calls. For businesses attempting to scale, there may not be enough money in the budget to justify that expense. Companies looking to manage their call traffic and remain lean will benefit from the flexibility, scalability, and overall cost savings that comes with adopting a virtual phone answering service.