You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Whether it’s meeting a potential investor for the first time, or speaking with a new client over the phone, initial impressions are formed within seconds.
Sometimes, those opinions stay for good, which is why it pays to make your first impression a positive one.
In this guide, we’re going to look at how a live receptionist service can help amplify your customer service to make sure your initial contact with prospective clients, and the first impressions they form of your business, are the best they can be.
What is a Live Receptionist Service and How Does it Work?
A live receptionist is a customer service professional who works remotely and provides a live call answering and screening service on behalf of your business.
However, live receptionists don’t just answer the phone and forward calls. They can effectively become the voice of your brand and deliver high quality service, educate callers about your brand, capture leads, schedule meetings or bookings, and provide basic calendar management.
Key services and features include:
- Personalized call answering in your company name
- Screening calls and filtering out unwanted inquiries, such as cold sales calls or robocalls
- Speaking with callers and dealing with inquiries according to your instructions. For instance, forwarding specific calls to your cell phone, or to voicemail if you’re busy
- Taking messages if you can’t be reached, and forwarding them to you by email or SMS
- Capturing leads and handling new customer inquiries
- Scheduling meetings, bookings and call-backs based on your live availability (requires calendar software, included with all Alliance Live Receptionist plans)
- General customer service, helping to promote your brand and deliver a positive experience of your company
As you can imagine, this service can save your business significant time and resources. Rather than facing constant distractions throughout the day, you can outsource your call-based inquiries to a receptionist service and use that time for other business requirements.
It’s flexible too; most live receptionist plans start from 50 minutes of call answering time per month, which can be increased as your business grows.
What are the Benefits of a Live Receptionist?
Your live receptionist will get to know and understand your business, and can give helpful information to your callers.
For instance, they can inform new callers about your range of products and services, and who to speak with regarding specific inquiries.
At Alliance, our receptionists work in small teams and get to know your regular clients and their relationship with your business, which helps ensure that your callers receive a personal and friendly service. They learn how best to communicate with your callers, and the tone of voice or specialist language they should adopt when answering calls on your behalf.
CRM technologies help too, by presenting your receptionist with the information and notes they need to know exactly who they are speaking with.
Of course, personalization is key in customer service. A friendly greeting, followed by a short exchange in which the receptionist knows certain details of the caller — such as a recent business development, a new employee, or even a birthday or anniversary — goes a long way towards building rapport and increasing engagement with the client.
Greeted with a professional yet human service on a consistent basis helps your clients develop trust and loyalty to your brand. For new callers, it helps create positive first impressions and experiences that can ultimately lead to customer acquisition.
How Does a Live Receptionist Support My Brand?
If you’re concerned about trusting your clients to a remote receptionist, that’s normal. You’ve worked hard to build your client relationships, and you wouldn’t trust that responsibility to just anyone.
But how many times have you been too busy to answer the phone? Or your call time has been cut short due to other commitments or, worse, another call?
Like we said earlier, first impressions are important. Busy entrepreneurs unwittingly, yet frequently, answer the phone without an appropriate greeting, or even announcing their full company name. It might seem like a small oversight but to the person on the other end of the line, it can make a lasting impression.
Live receptionists answer calls in the name of your business, making the interaction more personal and ‘on brand’. They are customer service professionals, and it’s their job to make sure your customers get the level of service they expect, and that you aspire to.
And ask yourself this. As CEO, should you be answering general inquiries at all?
Unless you market yourself as an independent professional, it can make your business look small if you’re the one taking calls and handling inquiries. It will also leave your clients wondering how much time and attention you can dedicate to their business when you’re frequently interrupted by incoming calls and inquiries.
It’s the harsh reality of doing business. No matter how good your product or service is, the way in which you answer a call can make or break a new client relationship. And since a person’s first impression is often the one they carry with them, don’t expect that person to call back anytime soon.
The good news is, a live answering service can help. And as you can imagine, it’s a fraction of the cost of a full-time resource.
Let’s do a quick cost comparison. On average, a well-trained receptionist in a full-time position can earn around $20-25,000 per year. Outsourcing your live receptionist requirements through Alliance, for instance, costs between $95-$225 per month, or $1,140-$2,700 per year.
Of course, as your business grows, you may eventually need a full-time resource to handle your call volume. But for startups and those with limited or specialist requirements, it’s significantly easier, and more cost-effective, to utilize a remote call answering service.
Live receptionists don’t just help you amplify your customer service and keep clients happy; they become an extension of your team, and the time they commit to your brand can increase or decrease in line with your requirements.
From enabling you to re-focus your time on other important areas of your business, to giving your brand a professional edge, this receptionist service can have a significant impact on customer acquisition, the day-to-day running of your business, and of course, on those all-important first impressions.