For a small business (and even for some bigger ones), success can be a bit of a double-edged sword. Of course we all want more conversions, more orders, more customers. But growth can present challenges of its own. Who’s going to take all those orders and support those new customers as they use an unfamiliar product or service? Who’s going to show your new customers you’re still there for them after they’ve paid their bill, so they’ll feel good about buying from you again or putting their own reputations on the line to recommend your company? If you don’t have a good answer to those questions, you can be cut by the blade of your own success. Ouch!
Two Bad Options for Customer Service
A business in this situation essentially has two choices. One approach is to shift existing resources to customer service. You can assign your technician to answer the phone when she’s not out on a repair job, or direct your software developer to personally handle troubleshooting your app with users over chat. Maybe you even try to do it all yourself, becoming a CEO-salesperson-accountant-strategic planner-customer service agent. There’s something to be said for having all your employees understand and stay engaged with customer service. But it’s a mistake to ignore the opportunity cost of having specialized employees distracted from their primary responsibilities—the reasons you hired them, and the way they create value for the business. Plus, a great team manager or graphic designer (or CEO) is not necessarily a great customer service agent. Trying to handle customer service in-house may be appealing from a cost perspective, until you look at the hidden costs of lost productivity and misalignment of skills.
The second approach small and medium-sized businesses might take to handle growing customer service needs is to hire new employees. But starting an internal customer service department is expensive. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a receptionist in 2012 was about $2100+ per month in the U.S. If your product’s popularity is triggering orders around the clock, or your service is in high demand, no single agent will be able to handle it all. You may end up eating a sizable chunk of your new revenue paying for the new customer service capacity. Sales may be growing, but labor costs grow, too—leaving your business on a hamster wheel of unprofitable success.
The Live Answering Solution
Neither of the choices described above for handling the customer service needs of a small or medium-sized business is particularly good. You can’t afford to miss out on the opportunity of those inbound calls and website visits—whether it’s a $40 single sale or a $40,000 lifetime customer. Live answering can be a good option for companies who want to beef up their customer service on a budget.
A seasoned live answering team (after twenty years in business, we have the experience to offer just such a solution) provides fast, friendly, versatile customer service around the clock for a fraction of what direct employees would cost. Instead of the more than $2,100+ per month salary plus benefits, vacation time, and other costs of a single receptionist, an AnswerConnect live answering plan can be less than a tenth the price. You get experienced, knowledgeable people trained to deliver real connections in every interaction, but you only pay for the time you use.
Live answering lets you embrace your success, knowing you can handle as many orders or inquiries as you get. Extending your customer service to a virtualized team of experts lets you focus on what you do best, while still reaping all the benefits of your business’ growth. It frees you to work anywhere business may take you, as you know when the customer calls we have you covered. Give us a call at 800-525-1315 to find out more about the live answering answer to small business acceleration.
(Photo via Flickr user Albion Europe)