call answering services soothe your pain
call answering services soothe your pain

SMB Cheat Sheet: Soothe Your Growing Pains with Call Answering for Your Small Business

Owning your own business was the dream, right? You would get to set your own schedule, run things how you want, and stop working for somebody else. You probably expected at least a little stress. Especially in those first few years, it might feel like all your energy goes toward finding new customers and getting your name out there.

But many small business owners can’t predict how much those growing pains can hurt! Sometimes the phone rings off the hook, and you feel like all you’re doing is answering calls. Imagine how much work you could get done if Abby Connect took care of call answering service for small business.

Call Answering for Your Small Business Can Help You When You’re Spread Too Thin

When running your small business, growth is the name of the game. But that flood of new customers we’re all hoping for can be a double-edged sword. So many small business owners are stretched too thin. Some days it probably feels like you never stop running, putting out fires, and struggling to keep up.

When that one phone call too many comes in, the person on the other end of the line is probably not getting your undivided attention—or your best attitude. Missing calls or being hard to reach is a sure way to lose business. Every missed call is a chance for that customer to find someone else to take care of them. And if your phone skills are less than glowing, that’s not great for your customer satisfaction either.

You’ll need to start delegating. You’ll need to hire employees, but payroll can drain your finances. Can your business absorb the burden of hiring someone to answer your phone?

Lucky for you, there’s another way. Many companies offer call answering for small businesses. Partnering with an excellent call answering service can offload some of that admin burden, keep your customers happy, and keep your business growing without driving you crazy. But choosing the right call answering service for your small business takes careful consideration.

Do You Need Call Answering Service? Can’t Customers Just Leave a Message?

Even if you decide answering the phone is worth their time, your team can only take so many calls in a day. At some point, they’ll get caught up on another task, or you’ll need them to sit in on a critical meeting. And how many phone lines does your law office have? What happens to calls when all lines are busy during high-traffic times of day? No matter how you look at it, there is a bottleneck to the flow of clients into your legal practice, starting with your phone lines.

A virtual receptionist for lawyers is a great potential solution that can pave a multi-lane highway into your practice. No matter how many clients call simultaneously, a virtual phone receptionist has the bandwidth to handle them all. Think of us like a pressure valve that can relieve some of the strain as your practice grows. With a virtual receptionist backing up your team, you’ll be able to take more calls without sacrificing your time or focus.

How Virtual Phone Receptionists Help You Make the Best First Impression

No matter what industry you’re in, there are probably bigger fish your customers could turn to. As a small family-owned business ourselves, we understand that feeling! Whether you’re a contractor or plumber, or if you own a cleaning service or any other type of small business, you’ve got to offer something the bigger guys can’t. So what’s your biggest draw? Why should customers work with you instead of the other guy?

That’s the difference your customers want. They want to work with small business owners because they can expect personal attention. 

But can they reach you? In today’s world, there’s no shortage of apps to let customers get in touch without needing to pick up the phone. There’s WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram, not to mention texting and messaging services from SMS to Facebook! So do people still use the phone these days?

Surveys overwhelmingly prove they do! Even in the “yeah, there’s an app for that” age, people want to talk to people. We all want to know we’ve been heard, that we have someone’s attention and they are working on our problem immediately. And letting your calls go to voicemail doesn’t count. If your caller felt like leaving a message, they would just text! (And for those customers who prefer to text, we offer full support for texting and chat services, too! Missed calls leave your customers feeling disappointed and dissatisfied. A call-answering solution is key for your small business.

Customer Service Skills Not Your Strong Suit?

We get it, but just picking up the phone when you can isn’t enough. Your customers want a predictable way to get in touch. They want to know their concerns are being handled and if they can have a great conversation while they’re at it, even better! But that’s not why you went into business. You need to spend your time and energy doing the real work. A phone call is a great way to get clients, but then it’s time to shine and deliver the kind of personalized service they need. Can you do it all?

Handling Your Calls Might Be a Bad Call

Your customers want contact. They want to connect with your business and know they can reach you. But you can’t be expected to handle 24/7 call answering, right? Too many small business owners overwork themselves and always sacrifice their days off to be available for their business. That’s a massive mistake regarding career longevity; you’ll burn yourself out and leave your relationships in shambles. You need to be able to go out to dinner with your spouse and leave your work phone at home sometimes. Days off are vital to keeping your energy and business going.

On top of which, not all of us are great on the phone, to begin with. After all, if you’re reading this, your small business is probably not a call-answering service. With everything you have going on, you might come across as distant, short, or rude over the phone while juggling ten other things. Flying solo to handle all the calls for your small business might seem like a good way to avoid extra expenses, but it could end up costing your customers. On the other hand, excellent customer service experiences protect your business. Customers are more likely to forgive mistakes after receiving great customer service, and they’re more likely to bring you repeat business and refer friends and family, too. It all starts with a call.

All Call Answering Services for Small Businesses Are Not Created Equal!

Remember, a phone call is frequently your first point of contact for a potential client. It’s how your customers get to know your business and decide whether or not to work with you. Every call is a chance to make your customers feel connected to your business. Customers who feel heard, who feel like they can connect with the person who answers the phone, are far more likely to call again. The small expense of a call answering service for small business is likely a very wise investment in the health of your business.

Not every call answering service is right for your small business. As important as it is to be sure your calls get answered, people can tell when they’re being handled like a number instead of an individual. Too many big call answering services for small businesses use a round-robin system where your customer will be handed to a different random operator every time they call. Most also allow their operators to work from home, meaning your customers might be getting someone distracted by kids, barking dogs, or Netflix. These workers rely on hit-or-miss residential internet connectivity, not to mention potential power outages. You may have experienced outages yourself when working from home. If so, you know the feeling of using a strong and reliable connection that an office place typically provides. Our offices have the best internet connections, extra digital security and backup generators to prevent these kinds of problems!

Finally, some small business owners employ call centers overseas. They use a standard script that sounds canned, and lots of them only handle calls during business hours, regardless of when your customers need you. Annie, Co-Owner of an A/V installation company, says other companies she considered had “totally random people answering your calls, looking at a company profile scanning for answers to caller questions.” That’s no way to build a good reputation for customer service!

Abby’s Approach Is Different

We’ll set you up with a small, dedicated team of highly trained receptionists. They’ll know your business inside and out to integrate fully with your systems. We want your receptionist team to use the words you like to help them blend in with your business. By ensuring your callers connect with the same few people every time, you’ll give the impression of having a much larger staff than you do. That helps boost your image while ensuring great service! Take it from Kim, Nurse Practitioner and Practice Owner, who says: “…clients have mentioned how nice my ‘front desk’ is. I have even [gotten] business because people said when they called ‘us,’ we were much nicer than any other places they called.” Your customers never even need to know you use a call answering service!

To make that happen, you’ll be able to build customized scripts, greetings, and instructions for how to handle each call. When customers call, they’ll talk to the same handful of people, all of whom work from our offices in the US. You can choose what hours you want active, whether you want us to handle calls only during business hours or 24/7 call answering. Either way, your clients will connect with real people and get focused, tailored attention every time they call, no matter when they call.

Because our receptionists are experts in call answering and trained on your business, they can do more than act like a glorified voicemail to take your messages. (Although we also have voicemail hosting if that’s what you need.) They can troubleshoot and help your clients solve problems. Chiropractor John also appreciates the other reception tasks they can handle: “They are great at securing appointments for me. They also make calls for me. They are very professional and friendly when dealing with my patients.” Abby’s receptionists can be there for 24/7 call answering and complete concierge service, day or night. They will know how to prioritize your calls and which ones need your attention immediately. They’ll let you live your life while they provide the superior customer service your business needs to thrive.

Can You Afford Call Answering for Your Small Business?

So, call answering for your small business sounds like a pretty smart expense. But can you afford it? For growing businesses, every payout matters. When it comes to overhead, you need as much predictability as possible from month-to-month. That’s where too many call answering services are coming up short. They can be super unpredictable when it comes to billing. You won’t know how much you’ll owe for call answering services until after they send the bill, and that kind of unpredictability can be a huge problem. They also don’t offer the same kind of personalization we do. You’ll probably end up paying for a bunch of items that don’t quite fit your business or address your needs. Wasting money is never a good move for your growing business.

We want you to know what to expect and avoid surprises. That’s why we structure our pricing to be as predictable as possible. Our app comes in especially handy here. You can use it to monitor your usage and stay in complete control of how you’re using Abby. We understand how tight things can be when it comes to running a small business, so we make sure you’ll pay for just what you need with customizable plans that will fit your budget without all the fat.

(Related Blog: How Live Virtual Receptionist Pricing Works)

Is Outsourcing Your Call Answering a Risk to Your Rep?

Beyond just how much you’ll pay for call answering, you need to consider if you can take the risk of handing over that kind of control to a third party. As you explore options for call answering services, the details mean a lot. For example, Abby’s receptionists will pick up after three rings, whereas other services give until five rings. That might not seem like a big deal, but many callers give up after three and move on to the next option. Outages are a huge sticking point. Even the most extensive call answering services have had outages that lead to hundreds of missed calls and potentially lost business for their clients. However, we’re proud of our track record for consistent, reliable service.

Your business is your baby, and we get that. Trusting someone else with something as important as your phone is hard. Your calls are so important; you should have call-answering specialists handle them for you! But you should also be able to retain control over those calls while they do. Every aspect of what we do is designed to give you control, oversight, and predictability. 

Written by

Racquel Pankau

Racquel Pankau

Racquel's journey began as one of the first Abby receptionists, the most important role at Abby Connect. After 12 years, Racquel has helped grow the company by performing various roles from IT support to hiring, training, staff development, and culture. Today, she is the Senior Learning and Development Specialist as an educational content writer and speaker for Abby Connect.