By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
As I consider business trends, specifically as it relates to the telephone answering service, three words come to mind. I think of these terms as keywords we can use to describe what we do and promote our business.
An answering service provides a virtual service. It’s been that way from the very beginning, some ninety years ago. We have never done our work on-site, but remotely. Our presence is not tangible, but virtual. As the prior century drew to a close, forward-thinking answering services began promoting the concept of the virtual receptionist.
In practice, this was nothing new, but as a concept, it was. Today with many entrepreneurs and small businesses tapping into the parallel concept of a virtual assistant, as a money-saving means to accomplish routine tasks with speed and precision. Answering services need to capitalize on this trend by touting their specialized version of a virtual assistant, also known as a virtual receptionist.
An answering service is virtual.
Often technology carries the label of scalable. This means its scope can easily increase or decrease to meet changing user needs. Though answering services often have scalable technology, they remain labor-intensive. Labor is not scalable.
However, from the perspective of our clients, we offer a scalable service. If we normally take one call at a time and two come in at once, we “scale up” to handle the extra work. Then we “scale down.” They can’t do that in their office.
What happens if they close early, their receptionist is sick or on vacation, or they want everyone at a staff meeting? We automatically scale up to take their extra calls. Conversely, if they decide to extend their hours and stay open until seven instead of closing at five, we scale accordingly to meet their new expectations.
An answering service is scalable.
Through outsourcing, especially as it relates to phone calls, was once severely tarnished by offshore outsourcing done poorly, the reality remains that outsourcing shines as a key concept for businesses. Outsourcing work provides flexibility and control costs.
Businesses wishing to run a lean, effective operation know that outsourcing is a preferred way to do this. Another significant reason to outsource is that many businesses are reluctant to hire staff. They sight overhead costs—especially healthcare expenses—and the legal hurdles to un-hire staff when no longer needed. As a smart alternative, they outsource whatever they can, whenever they can.
An answering service is an outsource provider.
Next time you talk with a business owner about your service drop these hot keywords. Say that you are a virtual, scalable, and outsource provider. That should get you some attention and hopefully some new business.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader, covering the telephone answering service industry. Check out his books How to Start a Telephone Answering Service and Sticky Customer Service.