Thinking outside the box!

Thinking outside the box!

May 09

Tweet Many people ask what our typical client is. Our answer – there really isn’t a typical client! We work with a huge range of clients from a massive cross section of business sectors. Although we provide telephone answering for clients you might deem as ‘typical’ for example accountants, solicitors, finance, recruitment and consultants we also work with businesses you might not consider typical. Including florists, IT, technical, software and R and D companies we also supply telephone answering to publishers, business brokers, the motor trade, marquee companies, catering companies as well as a mobile petting zoo and various trades including plumbers, heating engineers and landscape gardeners. They think outside the box. What we know about our clients and say with confidence is that they all think outside the box. They are committed to providing excellent customer service. They are ambitious and want to grow their business. For some the decision to outsource their telephone answering and trust someone to answer their telephones was very difficult. This can be due as we have found out to sometimes horrendous previous experiences. Others have needed to stop taking their own phone calls in order to change the way that they work to be more productive. As part of our clients extended team, by sharing information, doing our research and with a genuine passion to help we find trust is built quickly. This means that our clients can confidently get on with their day leaving the phone in safe hands. Secure in the knowledge that each caller will be helped in the best way. We receive lots and lots of Emails from new clients usually during their free trial week to say they really aren’t quite sure what they did before turning to the Answer-it service. We are hugely proud of the fact we have a long list of clients from all sectors who have been loyal to us for many years they have all grown and evolved but continue to use our service, albeit in a different way than when they first started using it. What have you got to lose? A trial week is easily arranged and what have you go to lose? Other than missed calls, and wasted time dealing with cold callers and recorded messages? Give us a call today or send us an Email and we can get things started for...

Communication – The Missing Bit

Communication – The Missing Bit

Apr 15

Tweet Many Forms of Communication There are so many forms of communication nowadays it is really easy to lose track.  Who knew that in my lifetime I would be able to hold a device in my hand and see and talk to a person in Australia.  I never imagined when I was at school that I would be able to send a letter to someone anywhere in the world and have them receive it on their computer just minutes later.  Or even be able to order a dishwasher from home at 8.30pm on a Saturday night and have it arrive a little less than 12 hours later! It’s  amazing what can be achieved with effective communication that has the right processes and systems to be able to back it up.  As human’s we seem to have an awful lot to communicate. Apparently there are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data produced daily.  We love to communicate and share things.  However we don’t always do it very well. How do you feel when your internet connection is lost? What about when your Email is down or your phone line has a fault?  A bit like you are missing a limb? Communication is so important to everyone it’s so essential in our day to day lives not just in business but in every aspect of our lives. We all have a love hate affair with the telephone. We love to have it with us and talk to people while we are on the go but we hate it when people call us to waste our time, think, recorded calls and sales calls that disrupt your day.  We hate waiting for that expected call, the delivery of a yes or no on the deal we have been waiting to hear about.  Should we stay in? Should we go out? What calls will we miss or have to catch up on? The Missing Bit The missing bit is the most important, it is the bit that causes most stress.  When it’s not there is when communication or rather non-communication is thrust to the forefront of our day.  When we don’t get that phone call, when we can’t get that meeting and worst of all when you can’t get a response from someone. We have all been in the situation where we are waiting to hear from someone about something, perhaps innocuous to the person...

Not So Great Networking

Not So Great Networking

Oct 16

Tweet It is fair to say that I have been on the networking circuit for some time.  I wouldn’t say I have ‘been around the block,’ as there are many more experienced networkers than me out there. That said I have gathered a fair amount of knowledge and some experience so far on my networking journey.  Of course there has been fantastic moment and amazing connections and business done.  However there have been moments that have been utterly cringe-worthy. Moments when I have wondered why I was at a particular event….. and that’s not just the coffee! Cambridge is rich in business networking events.  I have often joked that it would be possible to go to breakfast, lunch and dinner for a good few weeks in the area and still not go to everything that is on offer.  There really is something for every sector, and for the night owls and early birds alike. Of course there are the obligatory membership, breakfast groups, you may have had an invite to one or two of them.  Then there are the lunchtime groups, and ‘ladies’ only groups and evening events. Meeting People The basic premise is always the same and that is meeting people.  Each group / event has its own agenda and feel.  Some are more formalised than others, some stick to a rigid and ‘proven’ agenda others are more relaxed and offer plenty of open networking time.  Each has their downfall and it is simply because of people and nothing more.  Some see networking as a pure and simple opportunity to say a cursory hello and then sell AT you.  This isn’t so much an issue at a formalised event with a rigid agenda but at open networking events it can be awful. I’d much rather meet you, get to know you a little, then find out about your business and at that point see what happens. Formalised groups or those that combine some open networking are great.  Its an opportunity to connect with people you might have met at a previous event or simply meet some new faces.  Its always a great thing to be able to do, if you have been to an event before and you see a person looking a little forlorn, go and introduce yourself find out about them, who they are looking to meet.  If you can introduce them to someone who might...

Hurdles

Hurdles

Jun 19

Tweet Business is tough and competition fierce. Business is as we all know, is tough, competition is fierce.  Here in Cambridge we have recently lost HMV from the main area of the city centre.  It got me thinking, as there is now just 1 specialist music and DVD retailer in the city.  It is owned by the same group and it is unclear how long it will remain open.   Looking at my own buying history from this type of store.  I might drop in and buy a new release CD or DVD if I am passing. I have to line up (shocking!) pay with cash or a card (again shocking!)  The advantage however is I can ask someone in the store if I am looking for something specifically, find out when something is due to be released or if something has been discontinued.  Contrast with Amazon or iTunes (who seem to be doing pretty well) – I can be ANYWHERE literally now using my iPhone and order whatever I might want.  Indeed there is a very handy app that I have.  If I hear a song playing while I am out and I am not sure what it is, the app will identify it and link me straight to somewhere I can buy the song or album.  Amazon’s very handy ‘one click’ both on their website and on their app means I can order something wherever I am and if it is for my Kindle the book is available instantly.  Deadly on the bank balance as it is so simple and quick to do. Make it easy Why then, when companies are making it so easy to buy from them are others making it so difficult? I appreciate that you don’t want to be Amazon or iTunes, but still there are ways to make the whole buying experience easier on your prospects.  I appreciate you may not be in the retail sector at all you may have a service to sell.  The principle is still the same.  Do you make contacting you easy?  Is your business contactable by phone, by that I mean can callers actually speak to someone (not an automaton) each time they call?  This sounds really simple doesn’t it.  Making sure each call is answered can have outstanding results.  It means your prospect is engaged immediately, they are not talking to your competition they are talking to...

Are you thinking of engaging an answering service, how can you choose one that fits for your business?

Are you thinking of engaging an answering service, how can you choose one that fits for your business?

Apr 04

Tweet Thinking of engaging the services of a telephone answering service? Good for you, taking control and making sure you are providing fantastic customer service and ensuring you don’t miss any business. There are lots of service providers out there and in essence each does the same thing. However not all answering services are created equal. It really isn’t a, one size fits all first result after a quick ‘Google’ will do. What do you want from an answering service? Have a very clear idea of what you want the service to do for you. Make sure you speak to someone and chat about your requirements. Make sure your requirements are fully understood, as well as the type of business you operate and how you operate. Getting the right phone number Do you need a phone number to be supplied for your business if you don’t have one already? If so make sure that you have explored all the details of what is on offer. 0845 0870 and 0800 numbers are all fine if called from a land line but for people calling from a mobile phone there are cost implications to consider. Think about an 03 or other geographic number instead as more and more people make calls from their mobile phone. Be clear on who actually ‘owns’ the number and what are the implications if you move away from the service? Would you want to lose all your past customers because they have the wrong phone number if you don’t own yours and can’t take it with you?   Questions to ask your potential provider Can I divert my calls? What hours does the service operate? Will I be allocated a receptionist or PA? Are the operators located in one place or do they work from home? What environment are your calls being answered in? How will my messages be delivered, by Email or SMS or even Fax? Does the service offer a trial period? Do you offer diary management, to book appointments? Does the service charge for sales calls / recorded messages? Paying for your service How does the service, charge? Some charge by the amount of time a call takes, others charge by the message. Some services offer a Pay As You Go BUT beware there may be a minimum spend or ‘credit’ per month. Top tips Make sure you have a read of any...

Answer-it is 5 Years Old! With a Special Offer.

Answer-it is 5 Years Old! With a Special Offer.

Mar 30

Tweet It’s hard to believe we are celebrating our 5th Birthday! It is shocking how fast 5 years has flown by.  It is even more amazing that online statistics state that 95% of businesses fail within the first 5 years.  We count ourselves among the 5% of survivors and having started up mid recession we are quite proud of our achivement. The 5% Club! To celebrate our 5th Birthday and a pat on the back to the rest of the 5% of survivors.  We want to help other businesses.  We are offering a Free no obligation Trial Month of the Answer it service to the first 5 business’s that call  or Email us. If after the trial you decide to stay with the service once you have used the service for 2 months we’ll give you another little bonus too! So act quickly and call or Email so that you do not miss out!  http://answer-it.co.uk (Our usual rule of not taking our trial when you are on holiday still...

More Than Just Taking a Message.

More Than Just Taking a Message.

Feb 16

Tweet I often attend networking meetings where my clients speak about the Answer-it service to other people (usually when introducing me to someone.)  I quite often hear them say ‘they do more than just taking a message.’  Being on the inside it has made me stop and think about what we actually do beyond the mechanics of simply answering the phone on behalf of our clients and relaying a message to them We Answer The Phone and…. It is true we do answer the phone when you need us to.  So when you are out, need overflow cover, holiday cover, business continuity cover or just an extra pair of hands to manage your calls so you are not disturbed. We also send items out by post for some of our clients.  Application forms, catalogues and invoices. Some clients like us to use their diary and book in appointments for them. However what we actually do is so much more.  We help each business we answer for continue their marketing message, far beyond their website or printed collateral. We offer continuity to this message.  The business is contactable and approachable. Those Who Don’t Answer The Phone. In stark contrast to those who either don’t answer their phone, rely on voicemail or use an automated system.  Surely there is no stronger oxymoron than listening to a recorded message for the umpteenth time telling you how much the company who you are calling ‘cares.’  You know they really don’t otherwise they would be talking to you rather than keeping you on hold. The same with the voicemail ‘Thanks for calling’ So in fact it isn’t what we physically do that is as important, as the result of what we do, and how we do it....

Just one moment I’ll try to connect you……

Just one moment I’ll try to connect you……

Feb 03

Tweet ‘Call Forwarding ‘ or ‘Patching’ is something we at ‘Answer-it’ get asked about…. This is something that we sometimes get asked about. Yes we can do this for our clients.  However following the old adage ‘Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.’  The following is why. If you are using a service such as ours and your calls have been diverted to come through for us to answer on your behalf, it usually for a good reason.  Most of the time it means that you are too busy to take  calls.  Imagine this So just for a moment – Imagine this You make a call to be it to a customer or a client The person that takes your call says they will ‘put you through’  You dutifully hold on the line The ‘operator’ is trying to connect (you are still on hold) but they are unable to.  This could be because the person you are trying to reach is out of area on a mobile phone, in a meeting, or for any other reason, too numerous to mention.  (Voicemail can take some time to connect.) The ‘operator’ comes back to you to say that the person you were trying to reach isn’t available.  Politely asking if you would like to leave a message so that they can return your call. Perhaps it would have been better for the operator to simply take a message in the first instance, saving the caller the indeterminable ‘on hold’ time. Reality However it is fair to say that call forwarding works for some clients, those who are larger organisations or those that do keep us informed up to the minute of their whereabouts.  Reality is that a lot of our clients are simply too busy to keep us this informed.  If they get a last minute call to attend an important client meeting they are safe in the knowledge their calls are handled professionally.  Safe in the knowledge that even though they aren’t answering the call their competitors certainly aren’t...

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