Mobile phones, internet shopping, and social media have definitely changed the business world in just a short period of time. Once upon a time, customers had to wait until businesses were open to make an inquiry or a purchase; but now, online shopping methods have created the expectation of instant customer service.
As the pace of everyday life becomes faster and faster, customers have become less willing to wait in order to satisfy their needs. Long gone are the days when clients would wait on hold to have their phone call taken, or spend hours researching different options. They don’t want to wait for slow shipping or for a product to be available. If instant gratification is not provided, most customers know that they can simply take their business to another company.
If you think about it, this change in attitude makes perfect sense. Nowadays, people have to keep up with many more obligations than before. Life moves faster, schedules are busier, expectations are higher, and people simply don’t have as much free time as they used to.
As a business owner or manager, understanding your customers’ expectations is vital for success. Otherwise, potential customers won’t waste much time before resorting to an internet search to find a new alternative. Competing for clients is at an all-time high, with customers exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages each day. As a result, it is important for businesses to revisit the way they interact with customers and the changes that they can implement in order to provide a certain degree of instant gratification.
One of the main things that customers have come to expect from a business is 24/7 customer service. If a potential client is interested in your services or comes across your website after your office hours are over, they won’t want to wait until the next business day to get the information they need. And if they do need to wait, they can simply look for another business that does offer around-the-clock customer service.
So, how are small businesses supposed to offer 24/7 customer service? Creating an on-site call center that operates regardless of time and date is incredibly expensive. So expensive, in fact, that it is usually only multi-million dollar companies who are able to afford this service. In order to create a call center, you would have to hire a certain number of full-time employees, train them, provide an adequate physical space where they can work, and pay for extra hours – even on days when you don’t get a high number of phone calls. It is no wonder that most companies can’t afford this!
Is there no other option available for companies that want to offer 24/7 customer service but can’t afford spending so much of their budget on this service? Thankfully, there is. And the easiest, most affordable way to achieve this is by hiring a virtual answering service.
If you aren’t sure of what a virtual answering service is, it is actually very simple: a company that provides customer service operators who work remotely and are fully-qualified to provide callers with top notch customer service. You can customize many aspects of this service. For example: you can choose to use this service only for after-hours phone calls, or use it 24/7. You can have operators take certain phone calls only, ask them to pick up calls after a certain number of rings, or specify which phone calls should be transferred immediately to your on-site staff. You can also set up an emergency answering service to make sure that your business’ phone lines will still be open even during natural disasters or emergencies of any type.
Operators are professional, warm, and have been trained to offer customer service before they are given any assignments. You won’t have to spend any time training new staff; instead, you simply have to provide operators with the information that they need to answer customers’ inquiries.
Thanks to this service, anyone who calls your business will be greeted by a friendly customer service agent, regardless of whether it is 2 p.m. on a business day, or 4 a.m. on a Saturday. You will be able to satisfy your clients’ need for instant gratification without breaking your budget or wasting time and energy training new staff. Very soon, customers will spread the word about your services and your business will stand out amongst the competition, increasing customer retention and profits.