If you’re a small business, you might not yet have the means to set up your own office space, especially not one equipped with an administration assistant or a secretary there to help you answer all your phone calls.
However, being tasked with taking every phone call – while also running your business – can result in an unmanageable, heavy workload for new start-ups. It can also result in missed calls – leading you to lose out on new opportunities for your business.
Many small business owners and freelancers are now opting for telephone answering services and virtual offices: these allow smaller companies to set up an official business address and telephone answering service, without having to pay high rents and utility bills for a physical office space.
So, how does the telephone answering service work, and how can you get one for your business? Let’s take a look.
What is a telephone answering service?
A telephone answering service is a bit like a virtual secretary: you’ll pay a fee for a third party to take all calls to your official business phone number (which will be provided to you), after which all calls will be transferred to your personal number. This allows you to get on with the day-to-day running of your business, and also allows you to keep your home phone number private.
How does the telephone answering service work?
Put simply, a telephone answering services works as follows:
- You’ll be given an official business phone number, which you can advertise on your website, Google Business, as well as on your business cards and any other relevant marketing information.
- When potential customers or anyone else rings this number, it will be answered by a telephone operator. This telephone operator will typically be in a call centre.
- The telephone operator will state the name of your business, respond professionally to the caller, and politely transfer them to your private phone number.
- You’ll then take the call yourself, whether it be a client, a business opportunity, or someone simply making enquiries about your services.
Who is a telephone answering service best for?
While any business can technically use a telephone answering service, it’s best suited to those who run the following types of business:
If you offer a freelance service, you might prefer to set up a business phone number rather than have clients contact you on your home or private mobile number. A telephone answering service is an affordable way to keep your own number private, while ensuring you don’t miss any important calls or job opportunities.
If you’re running a start-up, you’re probably trying your best to sell your company as professional and investment-worthy: an official business number can give your new company that professional touch, helping you be taken more seriously by investors.
If you’re a sole trader, you probably spend a lot of your time out on the job, whether you’re a plumber, accountant, or a labourer. This means you won’t always have time to take important business calls, leading you to miss out on key jobs and opportunities. A telephone answering service can take messages for you, so you won’t miss out on gigs if you’re unable to take a call.
Many large companies are often overrun with phone calls, especially when it comes to customer services: customers might often end up waiting hours to get connected to the right person, giving them a bad impression of your business and making it unlikely they’ll want to use your services again. If your business is being badly reviewed due to phone call waiting times, a telephone answering service can help lift any pressure on your phone operators, and ensure a quicker and more positive experience for the customer.
Benefits of a telephone answering service
So, why opt for a telephone answering service? Here are just a few reasons small businesses, sole traders, and large businesses alike can benefit from redirecting their phone calls:
Avoid spam calls to your private number
If you use your personal phone number as your official business number, your number will be public. Not only can this result in time-wasters flooding your phone with annoying messages, but it can also mean you become a sales target for cold calls and spam text messages. A telephone service operator will know to filter certain spam calls, so you won’t be bothered while you’re working.
Better customer experience
Missing calls happens – this is especially true if you’re incredibly busy during the week, or if you’re often absent from your desk at client meetings or jobs. By setting up a telephone answering service, your clients and potential new customers will be able to leave a message and deal with a professional, friendly operator when they contact your business.
Save on costs
If you’re a new company, a freelancer, or a sole trader, you most likely don’t have the resources necessary to employ a full-time receptionist or secretary. After all, a receptionist needs a desk, a phone and various office resources in order to do the job, meaning that you’d need to pay both a salary and the rent for an office space. With office rent prices already expensive and continuing to rise, a telephone answering service is a much cheaper alternative: you’ll be able to cut costs on expenses and invest more money into your business.
How can I get a telephone answering service?
One of the easiest ways to get a telephone answering service is by opting for a virtual office, often referred to as a virtual address. Not only will this give you an official telephone line for clients and customers, but you’ll also be able to enjoy the following perks:
- An official business address. Having an official business address for your company is a prerequisite when you register your business with Companies House. Many new companies without an office space will use their home address – but this leaves you vulnerable to becoming a target for spam mail and cold callers. Using a business address gives your business that professional touch, and keeps your home address private.
- Use of conference rooms. The price of hiring meeting rooms in London can be extortionate if you hire privately – a virtual office package allows you to use meeting rooms a few times a year, permitting you to host a business event or meet important clients.
- Post and mail redirection. A virtual office service will also offer you the possibility of redirecting mail: this means that any important letters that arrive at your business address will be redirected to the address of your choice.
How much does a telephone answering service cost?
The cost of your telephone answering service will depend on whether you opt for a subscription fee or a pay-as-you-go basis.
A pay-as-you-go basis is much better for smaller businesses, as you’ll only ever have to pay when you receive a call. When you set up a pay-as-you-go phone call answering service with W1Virtual Office, you’ll only pay 99p per call – less than a McFlurry!
A telephone answering service is a great way to take pressure off those starting a new company, and ensures you won’t miss out on any important business opportunities.
If you don’t have the means or need for a physical office, setting up a phone call answering service gives your business the professional touch at an affordable price.