By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Having a professional website is essential for any telephone answering service that wants to grow. The emphasis is on the word professional. Though collectively our industry websites are much better than a decade ago, too many TAS websites still aren’t professional looking or professional sounding.
Here’s how to develop a professional website for your answering service:
1) Clarify Your Brand
Before you do anything with your website, you need a clear, strong brand. This includes the overall image you want to project and the supporting materials, including logo, color palette, tag line, mission, and so forth.
2) Decide Who You Are
You must also determine if you will brand yourself as an answering service, a call center, a contact center, a BPO (business process outsourcer), or something else. If you pick multiple answers, seriously consider a separate website for each one. They can look similar and even duplicate some content, but they each need a separate website and domain name.
3) Establish Goals
What goals do you want your website to accomplish? It can be an online brochure to support your sales team, a means to capture leads, a way to order online, or some other goal.
4) Hire an Experienced Website Developer
With your brand, identity, and goals established, now hire a professional website designer. Though they could produce your logo and determine your color palate, if you don’t have all these other elements firmly in place before you call them, expect to pay two or three times as much for them to help you work through these decisions. Also ask them to use WordPress. I’m biased here, but one quarter of the websites worldwide use WordPress. It’s open-source, has a great online support community, and there are scads of developers to step in if needed (in case your developer disappears, which happens too often). Plus, if you want to, you can make simple changes yourself.
5) Don’t Survey Other TAS Sites
Don’t look at other TAS websites for ideas. Seriously. Instead, look at the successful websites in other professional service organizations. You don’t want to look like other TAS websites; you want to look better than other TAS websites. You have to look outside the industry to do so. Tell your designer which ones you like and why.
6) Hire a Writer
Your developer could write your content or you could do it yourself, but the likely outcome is you will end up sounding like everyone else in the TAS industry. Hire a professional freelance writer or journalist to interview you and write the content. Your website developer may have recommendations for who to contact.
7) Hit Refresh Every Couple of Years
In looking at TAS websites, I see a few that were great websites – ten or fifteen years ago. Now they merely look dated and imply the same about the company. Plan to update yours about every two to three years. If you like your developer and stay with them, the refresh shouldn’t cost as much as the first version – unless you wait too long before doing the update.
Having a professional website is critical to helping your answering service grow. It is your first step to a better tomorrow.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader, covering the telephone answering service industry. Check out his book How to Start a Telephone Answering Service.