Wednesday, October 12, 2016

5 Small Business Tips To Help You Compete With The Big Boys

The economy is getting slowly better, and with it, the fortunes of small businesses are improving as well. Many think that it will keep improving and that new jobs will be created and that small businesses will expand. Since we help many small businesses with their communications needs, we sincerely hope that this is the case. However, whether the economy keeps improving or not, as a small business owner you want to be able to compete with the big companies – of course at a fraction of the cost. Here are 3 ways that you can do just that.

Invest In Your Team

I know, I know, you are a small business. You may even run a one man show. But whatever size you are, you will never get anywhere if you do not have a team to help you out. If you hire employees, take the time to train them to do their jobs right. The worst thing that can happen is for your employees to damage relationships with your customers because they were not trained properly. If you do not have employees, you need to do two things. First, find people that you can outsource some of your more menial tasks to. And second, get a network of professionals that can help you out with advice, send referrals your way, and be a resources to your clients.

Don’t Let Your Prospects Know You’re Small

Just because you are a small business doesn’t mean you have to let your prospects (or even your customers!) know that you are small. Run your business professionally. Offer great service, make sure everything looks professional, and mind the details. Often, by having a professional logo, website, packaging and marketing materials, you can appear much bigger than your are and give a great first impression to any prospects.

Make Sure That You’re Reachable, Even When You’re Not

Do you like leaving voicemail? Of course not, no one does – and that includes all of your customers. But, sometimes you are on the phone or in a meeting when the phone rings. What can you do to make sure that your prospects and customers always talk to a live voice? It is usually cost prohibitive to hire a receptionist to handle those calls for you (and even with a receptionist, sometimes they are on a break, call in sick or are on the other line). Often, the simplest solution is to hire a small business answering service to handle the calls that you can’t (perhaps someone like PCNAnswers!), They will have a friendly and professional operator answer your calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year so you’ll never miss an important call again and your customers will never have to talk to a voicemail box!

Of course you know your business best. You know what your customers need and how you can best meet their needs. And if being more reachable and making a great first impression is something that would help your small business, we would love the opportunity to talk to you about your customer service needs!

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Listen To Your Clients and Get More Business

Listening to your clients’ needs is vital to unlocking your business’s true potential; call answering services are the key to not only building clientele, but also keeping them loyal. Hiring a call answering service lets you capture business that others let slip away.

Are You Listening To Your Customers?

You spend good money on advertising – which is not cheap by any means – and for other necessities to put your business out ahead of others. So, what can a call answering service offer you over and above that? Well, say someone is intrigued by an advertisement and gives your business a call. What do you want them to hear? – A telephone answering service right? Of course, you want them to hear a live, professional operator. This is what your client wants as well, no matter the type of business.

People want to be heard. Being heard means by a person, not a machine. A call answering service offer just that: live professional caring service. Clients know that they have a choice and the choice they make is greatly affected by the type of treatment they receive from your business. Call answering services are the best at truly hearing your customers and making sure they feel valued and heard.

You might say “but wait, I’m always courteous to my clients – they know that I really care about how I manage my business”; but what about your receptionist? OK – say you have the best receptionist ever, never a day where you have to hire a temp. What happens after hours? Usually a recorded voicemail with an “I’m sorry…” message is set up to answer calls. That’s not good enough; you need a call answering service.

Getting More from Your Calls through Call Answering Services

Voicemail is great at taking information – if they are not full. However, call answering services not only excel at gathering information and asking the best questions, but also giving back to the client. Call answering services give clients the peace of mind that their phone call was important enough for you to make sure there was a call answering service, not just a machine, to take it. This is especially important in the medical field, where a full voicemail box cannot help with an emergency. Your patients need the assistance that medical answering services provide.

Call answering services go a lot further than just to your immediate callers as well. Remember, word of mouth can sometimes make or break a business. The inability to reach a business or impolite or distracted phone handling often results in a client not recommending a company to their friends and associates. A telephone answering service operator is able to concentrate on one thing: your telephone calls. Unlike receptionists or secretaries, a call answering service operator at PCN has one job and that is to handle each call as if it is the most important ever.
Call Answering Services: The Bottom Line

Every business owner has a choice: listen to the needs of your clientele and push your business strength further by hiring a telephone answering service, or do things the old fashioned way and let voicemail take their calls. Making sure people realize your business cares and is ready to do business is one inexpensive and simple step away. Employing our expert call answering services here at Professional Communications Network ensures that people know you mean business.

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Friday, October 7, 2016

Why An HVAC Company Needs An Answering Service

No matter what business you are in, profit margins matter. As an HVAC contractor, you know that you need to provide excellent service to all of your customers, but you also know that you have to do it inexpensively. You can’t afford a big staff to answer all of your calls for you so you have been answering all of your calls on your own… or at least trying to. If you are like most HVAC contractors that we talk to, there are times when it is no problem to answer all of your calls, and there are times when there is no way that you can keep up.

Tell me if this sounds familiar… you climb up into the attic… and your phone rings. Do you answer it in the attic? Do you climb down and answer it? Do you hope that they leave a voicemail (hint – no one leaves a voicemail any more)? Any way around it, would it be nice to have someone available to answer your phone for you whenever you were on a job? That is exactly what an answering service can do for you. We can answer for you 24/7, after hours, or only when you are busy so that your customers are always cared for and you don’t pay for calls that you can answer yourself.

So How Does an Answering Service Work?

When we set up your account, we will talk with you and come up with a script that we will use to answer your phone. You can give us answers to simple questions that come up frequently, and we can also set appointments for you if you would like. When one of our friendly and professional operators answers the phone for your business, they will instantly have all of your company information in front of them on a computer screen. They will use the script to answer the phone and they will follow your instructions to assist your caller. When appropriate they will forward a caller to you, but otherwise, they will take a message and text or email it to you immediately.

Make Your Advertising Count

Of course you run ads and leave a phone number in your ad. Sometimes an ad will run and not much happens – no phone calls, no new business. However, there are times when you get your ad just right and your phone starts ringing and you get an influx of new business. You don’t want to waste a single call because you know that you have a much better chance of converting the caller to a customer if they talk to a real, live human being. Our answering service will make sure that every caller is greeted with a friendly voice that will represent your company well.

Try Us Risk Free

We know that we can help your HVAC company and we would love the opportunity to prove it. Give us a try, risk free. You can call and talk to one of our operators at 888.528.5678 or you can fill out the form here to get started!

The post Why An HVAC Company Needs An Answering Service appeared first on PCNAnswers.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Long, Sad Decline of Voice Mail

Voice mail used to be an absolute business essential. A decade ago it would have been hard to imagine any business without a voice mail box (though Shawn Hakl the Verizon business division’s head of new products estimates that 80% of business phones had voice mail before the digital age). Now however, usage of voice mail have dropped to the point that many business (even large businesses) are dropping voice mail for the vast majority of their employees. Coca Cola recently gave employees the option to keep or get rid of their voice mail. The results were stunning with only 6% opting to keep their coverage. And while it was a bit of a cost savings measure, their Chief Information Officer Ed Steinike said that the change was “to simplify the way we work and increase productivity.

Of course you could think that we are being melodramatic. That voice mail is still a big part of the communications landscape and will continue to be. That the companies ditching voice mail altogether are not trail blazers, but outliers, simply looking for a way to cut costs. It would be a valid criticism if this hadn’t been predicted by the techies for years, and if this did not mirror the consumer usage of voice mail.

People Actually Hate Voice Mail

Of course this isn’t everybody, but a lot of people, and especially millennials, hate voicemail and refuse to listen to it. With the rise of text messages, they figure if it is important enough to need a reply, then the person will text. I have actually heard people get angry at a caller for leaving a voicemail. It’s strange, and it is a lot different than only a few years ago, but voicemail is something that has the capacity to bring scorn rather than goodwill.

People Get Anxious When They Have To Leave A Message on Voicemail

I have to admit that I giggled a little bit when I first read this. But then I thought about it and it made sense. I have always hated leaving voicemail messages. It always made me nervous and I would usually stammer something out and regret what I said instantly. For people that view voicemail with contempt, they simply won’t leave a message at the beep. Think that won’t cost you business? Imagine that you are unavailable and your voicemail kicked on. How many millennials do you think are going to brave their fear of public speaking to leave you a message. Every single one of them is a missed opportunity (which coincidentally is why we offer our live answering service so that you never have to miss another call again…).

Voicemail is a Waste of Time

This is the one that hits home for me. I hate when I get a voicemail because it simply seems like a waste of time to listen to it. If the person had texted me, I could read it instantly and reply. But with a voicemail, I have to click and swipe a few times, actually listen to the message, then call back to reply. That takes a lot longer than a simple text.

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Get A Competitive Advantage Over Your Competition

Do you want an easy way to get some new business ideas? Take a look at what your competitors are doing and compare it with what you are doing. I know it sounds obvious, and I know it sounds simple, but when was the last time that you took a comprehensive look at your main competitors to see how you stack up with them? If you are like most business owners, it has probably been a little while.

And that makes sense. You are busy dealing with customers. You are busy dealing with employees. You are busy with your sales team. You are busy with accounting. And payroll. And… There are so many things to deal with and oversee as a small business owner that we often do not take the time to really evaluate where our company fits in the market as a whole. There are always opportunities available if you know your market and you differentiate yourselves from your competitors.

We Can Give You A Competitive Advantage

One of the things that we hear from our clients is that they appreciate that we give them a competitive advantage over their competition. There are a few common themes as to how, which we will get into below.

1. Your Customers Never Get Voicemail
This one is bigger than you think. Imagine if you never had any missed calls without a voicemail left. Any one of those could be a potential client that decided to call one of your competitors because you were not available. In today’s instant gratification society, no one wants to leave a voice mail any more. With our live answering service, your clients will get a friendly and professional voice any time they call.

2. You Are Always Available
How great would your customers feel if they could call you any time, day or night? While that doesn’t sound appealing for most business owners – having to be available all the time – but your customers will appreciate it. With our 24 hour answering service, we can answer your calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Our operators will follow your script, so they are able to answer frequently asked questions (that you provide the answer to), give directions, give hours of operation, schedule appointments, or simply take a message. Whatever you and your customers need, we will figure out a way to help.

3. We Are a Lot Less Expensive Than A Receptionist
Of course, you could hire another receptionist to take some of the load off of you and you would get many of the benefits that we offer. However, that would be a lot more expensive and a lot more hassle. First you have to advertise for a job opening, then interview, then train the new employee, pay their salary, the payroll taxes, benefits… According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a receptionist will cost (on average throughout the country, so a lot more in California) over $27,000 for salary alone. This doesn’t take into account all of the other expenses that you will incur. Or, you could hire us for a low monthly rate and know that we will handle everything for you.

The post Get A Competitive Advantage Over Your Competition appeared first on PCNAnswers.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Why Your Small Business Needs A Virtual Receptionist

So, you run a small business. If you are like the other small business owners that we work with, you feel that there just are not enough hours in the day. Between managing your business, managing employees, answering the phone, and actually doing your job, the time runs out quickly. In the past, this would be at the point that it would be time to bring in a receptionist to help take some of the stress off of you. But is that still the best way to go?

With our ever changing world of technology, you now have options. Instead of paying a receptionist to sit at a desk in your office, waiting for the phone to ring, you can hire a company like ours to be your virtual receptionist. So what is a virtual receptionist, and why do you need one?

A virtual receptionist is exactly like a regular receptionist, only they do not sit in your office, cost you a full salary (and benefits, workers’ comp, etc.), or require you to add an extra phone line or an expensive phone system.

Be Available 24/7/365:
At PCNAnswers, our operators are available to answer your calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year with our 24 hour answering service. Whenever a customer calls, they will reach a friendly and professional voice who follows the script that you provide and then promptly either connects you to the caller or texts or emails you your message. Whether you need us to answer frequently asked questions, give directions, schedule appointments, or handle your common customer service issues, we can help – and for a whole lot less than a receptionist would cost.

Call Forwarding:
Just like with a real receptionist, we are able to forward calls to you or your staff when it is appropriate. You will let us know who is on call, give us reasons for that person to be connected with a caller, and then we handle the rest. If it is an issue that we can take care of, we will without disturbing you (you will get a notification of the call so you know what calls we have taken). If the call requires either you or a staff member, we will call your number, let you know that you have a call that needs your attention, and then connect you.

You Set The Script:
The best part about having us as your virtual receptionist is that you get to choose how we answer. No having to train your receptionist on how to answer the phone professionally (we take our training very seriously, and our operators are the best in the business). You simply write out a script for us (we are happy to assist you with this!) and when we answer the phone for you, your script and all of the information that you have given us about your company will pop up on our computer screen. We will follow the script exactly and we will handle all calls just the way you want them handled. Our most important job is to be your representative to your customers. We will do that exactly like you set out in your instructions.

The post Why Your Small Business Needs A Virtual Receptionist appeared first on PCNAnswers.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Your Smart Phone – Indispensable or Major Distraction?

Everyone has a smart phone now. You can’t travel a few feet without seeing somebody staring at their phone. So why is everyone staring at their phones? Because they have become an indispensable part of our lives. You need to find out how to get somewhere? You get on Waze and have directions and know how long it will take to get there. Bored? Pop out your phone and start catching some Pokemon with Pokemon Go. Looking for a great place to eat? Pull up Yelp and find an amazing restaurant right around the corner.

To keep from beating a dead horse, our phones have become an integral part of our lives, and there is nothing that is going to change that. So why is this a problem? If you are the boss at work and you walk in and see half of your staff looking at something on their phone you start to wonder how productive your employees actually are. Is the ease of entertainment found on a phone keeping your staff from being as efficient as they should be?

Here are 3 Tips To Help You to Get the Most Out of Your Employees in the Smart Phone Era

1. Turn off non-essential notifications
The last thing that you need is your employees looking at their phone every 15 seconds at a new notification. Of course some notifications are necessary. If they text with clients, you cannot have them turn off their texting notification. If they monitor Twitter for the company account, those alerts must come through. However, productivity would go way up if the amount of notifications would go down. Just think about what we do when we get a notification on our phone… we look at the notification, unlock our phone, and do three or four tasks that we were not thinking about doing before the notification.

2. Have official cell phone breaks
It is one of those things that is just going to happen. Your employees are going to check Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Instagram whether you let them or not. You would be much better off setting aside 15 minutes a couple times a day for cell phone breaks. Let your employees get their fix, and then bring them back to the task at hand. A couple of short breaks are good for productivity in general, but it will be even better if you can cut down on most of the unofficial social media breaks that your employees are already taking.

3. Cut down on office stress
One of the main reasons that people use cell phones is as a stress reliever. You will find that the more stressed your employees are, the more they will want to use their phones for something mindless. If you can keep the morale up and the stress level down, you will find that there will be much less use for your employees to use their phones for non work related tasks. At PCN, our supervisors are always available and make sure that we are getting the training that we need. One of the most stressful parts of our job is when there is a caller with a medical emergency and medical office has not given us updated information. Of course we have procedures in place to handle that particular call, but our management is very good about making sure that we feel supported and that we get the information that we need updated so that it is available the next time. With just these little changes, it not only makes the quality of our medical answering service better, it makes us as operators feel valued and our stress levels stay low.

The post Your Smart Phone – Indispensable or Major Distraction? appeared first on PCNAnswers.